counsel barrister
Legal and court services

Career outlook for advocate

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would present cases in the Scottish law courts, putting the arguments to defend people accused of a crime or a civil offence.

Advocates present cases in Scotland’s courts, mostly at the High Court of Justiciary and the Court of Session, and also in other decision-making bodies such as tribunals.

You would be given cases by solicitors who need you to represent their client in one of these courts. You could specialise and build up expertise in a particular type of case.

You would:

  • Discuss the details of the case with the solicitor and the client
  • Read statements from witnesses and other reports to find out more about the facts
  • Research similar cases from the past
  • Decide how to present your case and prepare
  • Make speeches in court to the judge and jury
  • Question (cross examine) the witnesses in court
  • Point out flaws in the evidence that the prosecution puts forward

In civil cases you would prepare a written case on behalf of your client.

You would also use your expertise to advise solicitors and their clients about legal matters and give an opinion on the best way to tackle a dispute or issue.

Some advocates work for the Procurator Fiscal service; they are called Crown Counsel and prosecute cases in the High Court. You could also draft laws, working for the Scottish Government or Scottish Parliament.

You’d need be good at speaking in public and be able to quickly absorb a lot of facts and information. Confidentiality is very important.

The people you represent may at times become upset or emotional; a court case is likely to be very stressful for them. But you will need to be objective so you can give your opinion fairly and honestly on whether they have a good case or not.

You will need to represent your client to your best ability, regardless of whether you like them or not.

Working conditions


Your working hours would often be long and include evenings and weekends, particularly at the start of your career.


In private practice, you would be self-employed and be based at the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh. You would divide your time between the Advocates’ Library and court. When in court you would wear formal clothing including a wig and gown. Outside of court, you would wear smart business clothing. Even out of working hours, you would be expected to have high standards of dress, ethics and professional conduct.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Resilience
  • Compromising
  • Written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Questioning
  • Researching
  • Respecting
  • Developing a plan
  • Negotiating
  • Understanding

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You would need an honours degree (SCQF Level 10) at 2:2 or above in Scottish Law or an ordinary degree (SCQF 9) with distinction in Scottish Law. You must also complete a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (SCQF level 11). After the Diploma you would need to do at least 21 months training in a solicitor’s office; it's recommended that you do a 24-month traineeship.

To enter a LLB (law degree) you will need at least four Highers at B or above, some courses require Advanced Highers and some courses will ask that qualifications are gained in one sitting. You may also be required to sit a National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT). 

You can apply for entry to an accelerated LLB course, usually involving entry to the third year of study, with a relevant degree or honours degree (SCQF Level 9/10).  

Useful subjects

English or English-based subjects (required by most courses) 

If you wish to study law with languages you will require modern languages.

You will also need

Once in a job you must complete the requirements to be admitted as a member of the Faculty of Advocates:

  • Matriculate as an Intrant to the Faculty of Advocates
  • Pass the Faculty of Advocates’ examinations
  • Complete all Faculty training requirements (known as Devilling)

Helpful to have

Any qualifications that demonstrate understanding of the law and the ability to gather, organise and present information such as BTEC Diploma in Public Services.

Relevant experience such as attending the Faculty of Advocates Open Days and Law Society of Scotland events and activities for school students.