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Government Legal Services for Scotland: Dare to be different


dare to be...inspired bright dynamic challenged supported

Fast-paced, high-profile decision-making at the heart of government: where else could you make such an impact?

  • The GLSS is different.
  • The GLSS offers lawyers a varied, stimulating and unique career at the heart of government.
  • As a result, the GLSS can provide opportunities that cannot be offered anywhere else.
  • Working with the GLSS provides you with an opportunity to advise and influence top decision makers on the most high profile issues of the day - it is an opportunity to make a difference.
  • Our Pro Bono Network helps our lawyers serve the community in other ways.
  • There are over 200 lawyers in the GLSS, making us one of the biggest legal practices in Scotland. All are ambitious and continuously supported through career planning, training, mentoring and management.
  • The 6 core offices of the GLSS are: the Scottish Government Legal Directorate; the Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate General; the Office of the Solicitor to the Scottish Parliament; the Legal Secretariat to the Lord Advocate; the Legal Secretariat to the Advocate General; and the Scottish Law Commission.
  • Within the GLSS, our lawyers move post every few years, changing subject matter and clients. This enables them to develop a range of skills and functions, including: the preparation of legislation; advice to Ministers and officials; litigation; policy development; and management.
  • The GLSS career structure takes our lawyers away from narrow specialisation and places an emphasis on a broad range of transferable skills and personal development.
  • We recruit lawyers of the highest ability, with good team working skills and a commitment to working in the public interest.
  • We take on 5 or 6 trainees per year - although offers of posts following qualification cannot be guaranteed, in recent years we have been very happy to retain all of our trainees. We otherwise recruit qualified lawyers as and when appropriate.
  • As a large organisation, we are aware of our impact on, and responsibility for the environment. All our offices are committed to minimising this impact through our excellent recycling facilities and environmental initiatives.

be inspired

Why would you choose to be a GLSS lawyer?

Perhaps you are looking for stimulating, intellectually challenging work that you can really get your teeth into? Maybe you are looking for ajob where human rights are not just things that belong in some half-remembered exam paper, but where they really matter?

As a GLSS lawyer, the essence of your work will be to further the public interest and uphold the rule of law. You will be at the forefront of developing and implementing new law, and you will regularly have to consider novel and complex constitutional issues. If you are passionate about litigation, you could join our lawyers in running some of the most high-profile and important cases out there, with the opportunity of taking cases all the way to the Supreme Court or the European Court of Justice.

Do you feel strongly about contributing to your community? The GLSS can help. We actively encourage pro bono work and have a dedicated Pro Bono Network to offer advice and assistance to those who have an interest.

As a GLSS lawyer, you will have a real opportunity to make a difference. Your advice will help Ministers and parliamentarians make the decisions that matter. Legal issues which cross your desk one day can hit the headlines the next. Quite simply, our work is inspirational.

be bright

We deal with big questions in the GLSS. Questions, the answers to which determine the future of Scotland and the UK, and have a tangible effect on people's lives. These questions rarely have easy answers.

The work you do in the GLSS will involve the weighing of many different factors and the understanding of many complex relationships. Issues of constitutional and administrative law, human rights, European law and private law are always involved. Highly developed problem solving and analytical skills are essential for the work that we do. Wherever you work in the GLSS, one question is nearly always present - "do Ministers have the power to act in this situation?". Answering that question will require you to have an understanding of the political environment and the devolution settlement, the relationship between the various jurisdictions within the UK, and the wider European and international context in which we work.

As well as the intellectual challenge, the nature of our work means that things can change very quickly. As a GLSS lawyer, you will have to be ready to respond to these sudden changes of pace.

We have the facilities to make all this easier, though. Besides the expertise and experience of our lawyers, we have an extensive legal library including access to a wide range of online resources, and a dedicated staff of knowledge managers. So you can rely on getting, and giving, answers quickly.

European Parliament, Brussels
European Parliament, Brussels

Westminster, London
Westminster, London

Westminster, London
Westminster, London

The Scottish Government, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh
The Scottish Government, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh

Court of Session, Parliament House, Edinburgh
Court of Session, Parliament House, Edinburgh

The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh
The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh

Supreme Court, London
Supreme Court, London

so where do we fit in?

GLSS lawyers are the legal advisers to government in Scotland. In practice, this means that we advise the various Scottish Government policy directorates ( e.g. Justice, Environment etc.), the Scottish Parliament and UK Government departments; we support the Scottish and UK Law Officers; and we contribute to the development of law reform proposals. This covers a vast range of legal expertise; from conducting litigation in domestic and European Courts, to advising on a wide variety of different subject areas, often considering the most high-profile and sensitive issues of the day.

The majority of our lawyers work in the Scottish Government Legal Directorate, advising Scottish Ministers on the legal implications of their policies and decisions. Another large team works in the Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate General doing a similar job for UK Ministers in relation to reserved matters such as immigration and energy. Most of our time is spent working with our clients in policy departments, assisting in the formulation and delivery of Ministers' policies.

A unique aspect of GLSS work is the development and implementation of new law. If you like the idea of seeing your writing on the statute book, you will be pleased to know that our lawyers draft all Scottish subordinate legislation and are involved in drafting or instructing UK statutory instruments as well.

Our lawyers play a key part in the process of creating new Acts of the Scottish Parliament as well as the Scottish content of UK Acts of Parliament; our role is to instruct Parliamentary Counsel who draft Scottish Government and UK Bills. Our input is essential in assessing whether or not a Bill is within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, whether it achieves what Ministers want, and what impact it will have on the people of Scotland.

Our lawyers at the Scottish Parliament work in an iconic setting, at the forefront of devolution. They are indispensable in assisting the Scottish Parliament fulfil its role of holding the Scottish Ministers to account, by advising the Presiding Officer on the legislative competence of Ministers' Bills and scrutinising all subordinate legislation. Our lawyers are involved in advising on the Parliament's constitutional powers and standing orders, as well as on high-profile inquiries which often generate intense interest from the media, action groups and the general public. Parliament lawyers also provide advice to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body in key areas such as its provision of services to the public and engagement with external organisations and other legislatures.

Our lawyers at the Scottish Law Commission are key to the promotion of law reform for Scotland. Working with a Commissioner as part of a team on law reform projects, they make recommendations to the Government to improve and update areas of the law.

The common thread to all of our work is that we are advising in the public interest. Our advice helps shape policies and legislation; everything you will do as a GLSS lawyer has a clear outcome. So if you are looking to make an impact, the GLSS is the place to be.

be dynamic

In the GLSS, you will not stand still. One of our key philosophies is that, as a GLSS lawyer, you develop a core set of transferable skills that you can use in any post. Our offices deal with a huge variety of work. As your career develops, you will have the opportunity to move between different subject areas, different kinds of work and between offices.

You could also have the opportunity to take up a secondment to a public inquiry. This is an exciting and developing area of expertise, which increasing numbers of our lawyers are involved in.

Depending on where you are placed, you will be expected to advise on anything from immigration to education, from criminal justice to health or from transport to the environment, with European and human rights law forming a constant backdrop. If you work in one of the Legal Secretariats to the Advocate General for Scotland or the Lord Advocate, you will be working directly with Ministers on some of the most difficult and sensitive legal issues of the day. Wherever you are, your work will be varied, fast paced and always interesting - there is never a dull day.

For lawyers, the opportunity to explore so many different areas is attractive. However, as a GLSS lawyer you will be a civil servant, which opens up even more possibilities for career development. In recent years, GLSS lawyers have taken positions in the Private Offices of Cabinet Secretaries, in the Cabinet Secretariat and in Whitehall departments; they have landed policy jobs in justice and education; and have worked in the Scottish Government's EU Office in Brussels.

be challenged

The GLSS offers one of the most varied, fun and rewarding traineeships available. We offer unique opportunities for trainees to be involved at the cutting edge of public law.

Your traineeship will comprise four six-month seats across the various offices of the GLSS. Normally, this means you will have three seats within the various divisions of Scottish Government Legal Directorate, and one further seat, which may be at the Office of the Solicitor to the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Law Commission, or the Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate General. There is also the chance to do six months at a private law firm. All of these seats are Edinburgh based, but there may well be opportunities to travel to London or Brussels, for example, depending on your work.

As soon as you start working with us, you are a valuable member of the team. No trainee is a glorified photocopier. From day one, you will be given your own projects to work on. This could involve giving formal advice to Ministers, drafting subordinate legislation, or working on high-profile litigation. From early on, you will be a point of contact for clients. As a GLSS trainee you will be constantly challenged, making our traineeship one of the best in terms of preparing you for life as a qualified lawyer.

Of course, although you will be expected to take charge of your own work, you will never lack support. Your manager will be an experienced lawyer who will help you with any problems, offer guidance and point out opportunities.

As a second year trainee, you will have the chance to do a two-week placement in London. You will spend the first week working in the Legal Secretariat to the Advocate General at Dover House in central London, and the second week working in a department of the UK Government in Whitehall.

Our vacancies for traineeships and qualified lawyers are advertised both on our website and in the national press. We recruit two years in advance of the traineeship starting, and our adverts normally appear in October/November.

Summer placements

The GLSS also operates a summer placement scheme. These paid placements are for one month, and they are an excellent opportunity for law students in their third or fourth year of study to get a taste of the kind of work that we do. If you are interested, send us a CV and covering letter by March of the year you wish to do your placement:

Contact us:

If you would like any further information about any aspect of a traineeship or summer placement with the GLSS, please email us at GLSSenquiries@scotland.gsi.gov.uk, or phone us on 0131 244 0815.

be supported

We know that our lawyers are committed and talented professionals. We also recognise the personal and professional benefits of a good social and family life. That is why we actively encourage our lawyers to maintain a healthy work life balance and provide support by offering excellent working conditions and promoting flexible working patterns. There is an excellent crèche at Victoria Quay which offers a range of childcare services.

If you join the GLSS, you will benefit from our unrivalled training and development opportunities. We know that our lawyers are ambitious and we are proud to offer excellent career prospects. We place emphasis on management support, mentoring and flexible team working.

You could get involved in our regular social events, from hillwalking to rock gigs, or why not join colleagues in charity fund-raising endeavours, from running marathons to sampling the finest GLSS baking. Within the wider Civil Service, there are foreign language classes, social clubs and more!

You can also sign up to the excellent sport and leisure facilities. At Victoria Quay there is a 25m heated swimming pool and sauna, a well-equipped gym, an outdoor multi-court and a large number of fitness classes available.

Our lawyers are civil servants, with recruitment being by way of open competition run by the Scottish Government. Salaries are competitive and appointments are permanent (after training/probationary period) and pensionable. We are firmly of the view that variety is the spice of life. This is reflected in our work and in our people - the GLSS is committed to equal opportunities and to attracting and developing talented lawyers from a diverse range of backgrounds.

be yourself

Designed by RR Donnelley
Photography by Stephen Kearney
Cover Retouching by Candigital

appearing in this brochure were:

Sadif Ashraf
office of the solicitor to the advocate general

Alex Doig
glss trainee

Fraser Gough
scottish government legal directorate (sgld) - constitutional and civil law division

Janet Hall
glss trainee

Kenny Htet-Khin
office of the solicitor to the advocate general

Saira Kapasi
sgld - rural affairs division

Caroline Lyon
sgld - transport, culture and procurement division

Katie Millar
glss trainee

Neel Mojee
sgld - children, education, enterprise and pensions division

Judith Morrison
office of the solicitor to the scottish parliament

Stephanie Prowse
glss trainee

Francesca Rennie
glss trainee

Neil Ross
office of the solicitor to the scottish parliament

James Shaw
legal secretariat to the lord advocate

Alastair Smith
scottish law commission

natalie wease
glss trainee

for further information contact GLSSenquiries@scotland.gsi.gov.uk