Guarding the legal system and protecting the people within

THE legal profession may have been with us for centuries, but today's Law Society of Scotland has only been established since 1949.

Established by the Legal Aid and Solicitors (Scotland) Act, it is the governing body for solicitors in Scotland. When simply put, the society is the protector of the legal system in Scotland - protecting the interests of the solicitors and those of the Scottish public in relation to their dealings with the legal profession.

Any solicitor practising in Scotland must be a member of the Law Society, from which the Practising Certificate is issued.

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At the moment, there are around 10,000 solicitors in Scotland, who can each provide advice on legal matters and represent clients in court. If a solicitor is also a Notary Public, they can record certain transactions and legal documents.

Advocates are also members of the Faculty of Advocates, part of the College of Justice. Most of the advocate's work involves the higher courts and providing more specialised advice. The initials QC (Queen's Counsel) indicate a senior advocate. Solicitor Advocates are the only other solicitors who can appear in higher courts. This was introduced in 1993, giving solicitor advocates equal rights to advocates.

The Law Society is the first port of call for anyone considering a career in the legal profession. The website provides up-to-date information.

A law degree can be a passport to many different careers. Some graduates enter the civil service, go on to work in chartered accountancy, or even financial services.

There are qualified lawyers in industry and business as well as in the media. The police and the diplomatic service are also popular routes taken by those who have achieved the LLB qualification.

How far can a law graduate go? Well, his degree may not have been gained in Scotland, but a certain Edinburgh-born lawyer is currently celebrating his third term at 10 Downing Street.

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