GLSS traineeship: recruitment brochure

Information for prospective trainee lawyers about a traineeship with Government Legal Service for Scotland (GLSS).

Where will your choices take you?

What is the Government Legal Service for Scotland?

The Government Legal Service for Scotland (GLSS) is a community of lawyers in government in Scotland which exists in order to:

  • provide shared services to member offices, associate offices and their legal staff;
  • promote contacts, share information and develop skills and knowledge among lawyers in its member offices and associate offices; and
  • raise awareness of the roles of lawyers in government.


The member offices of the GLSS are those offices (other than associate offices) staffed by lawyers employed by the Scottish Government. Scottish Parliament Legal Services is currently the only associate office of the GLSS.

The current member offices are:

  • Scottish Government Legal Directorate (including the Legal Secretariat to the Lord Advocate)
  • Office of the Advocate General (including Legal Secretariat to the Advocate General)
  • Scottish Law Commission
  • Civil Recovery Unit, Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Lord President's Private Office
  • Revenue Scotland
  • Edinburgh Tram Inquiry
  • Crofting Commission

Why would you choose our traineeship?

A traineeship with the GLSS offers a unique and stimulating start to your legal career, working right at the heart of government.

Our traineeships are one of the most varied and rewarding available, offering opportunities for trainees to be involved at the cutting edge of public law. We deal with big questions, the answers to which determine the future of Scotland and the UK and have a tangible effect on people's lives.

As part of our team, the essence of your work will be to further the public interest and uphold the rule of law.

Our advice helps shape policies and legislation. Depending on where you are placed, you could be advising on anything from education to immigration, from criminal justice to health, or from transport to the environment, with public law forming a constant backdrop.

If you are passionate about litigation, you could join our lawyers in running some of the most high-profile cases in Scotland, with opportunities to be involved in cases all the way to the Supreme Court.

Our career structure takes lawyers away from narrow specialisation and places an emphasis on a broad range of transferable skills and personal development. In the GLSS our lawyers usually move post every few years, changing subject matter and clients and developing a range of legal skills.

Our commitment to diversity and inclusion

Here at the GLSS, we are committed to having a diverse and inclusive workforce and ensuring that diversity and inclusion remains at the heart of how we operate, including how we recruit and train new lawyers.

We want our appointments to reflect the people of Scotland and welcome applications from under-represented groups. We've run "taster days" in the past, which are specifically aimed at raising awareness of our traineeships among law students who are disabled or come from minority ethnic or socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and we plan to organise similar events in future.

The government also runs a number of staff networks, including networks for under-represented groups, for colleagues to meet others and share experiences.

"The GLSS traineeship has provided an incredibly supportive environment for me to develop a wide range of legal skills and build knowledge. The work is immensely varied, but always interesting. I have had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from some brilliant lawyers, who have dedicated time to supporting my learning."

Kate Connelly, recent trainee

What are we looking for?

Due to the ever-changing political environment, the nature of the work can be fast-paced and subject to constant change. That means we need trainees who are adaptable, flexible and able to respond to the issues of the day.

Highly developed problem-solving and analytical skills are essential for the work that we do. The advice you provide will require you to have an understanding of the devolution settlement, as well as the political environment and the relationship between the various jurisdictions within the UK.

Good team working skills are essential. You will be working alongside other lawyers in the GLSS and often as part of a wider team with policy colleagues working towards a shared goal, whether it is the introduction of a Bill or the drafting of a Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI). Our trainees must be self-aware and able to appreciate the wider needs of the team and the wider goals of the government as a whole.

In order to provide effective legal advice to policy teams and Ministers, strong communication skills are important.

Overall, a commitment to working in the public interest and the desire to be challenged are key.

As a GLSS trainee you are also part of the civil service and your work and experience will reflect the Scottish Government's core values:

  • We act with integrity
  • We are inclusive
  • We are collaborative
  • We are innovative
  • We are kind

"I have been provided with a broad range of experiences during the course of my traineeship. Within the Scottish Government, I have had advisory seats in commercial and business, and constitutional and civil law. I have also had the opportunity to work in litigation for the Scottish Government and spend six months on secondment to the Scottish Parliament. At each point I have received work that is both challenging and diverse.

The traineeship as a whole has strengthened my commitment to working for the public and has widened my areas of interest interms of developing my career as a solicitor."

Caitlin Hislop, recent trainee

  • Knowledge
  • Training
  • Discover
  • Experience
  • Learn

"My traineeship with the GLSS has been incredibly varied. During my traineeship I have gained experience in advisory posts in transport, criminal justice and social security. I have also worked in litigation for the Scottish Government, gaining experience of working on high profile judicial reviews as well as the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland. The work has been really interesting and rewarding which was a key draw for me to apply and it has not disappointed!

Suzanne Houston, recent trainee

"Being a GLSS lawyer gives you the opportunity to engage with genuinely interesting legal topics on a daily basis. A lot of the core aspects of GLSS work – such as the development, drafting and implementation of new laws – are unique to government, and you won't have the opportunity to undertake this kind of work in any other traineeship."

Ross Grimley, current trainee

What is the traineeship like?

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

Your traineeship will typically comprise of four seats each lasting for six months.

Usually two or three of those seats will be based within Scottish Government Legal Directorate (SGLD), the largest GLSS office, working directly for the government of Scotland. Seats are also available at the Office of the Advocate General – one of the other GLSS offices.

Currently the Legal Secretariat to the Lord Advocate and Scottish Law Commission do not offer traineeship seats but opportunities for secondment to their offices are available to lawyers after they qualify.

You could also have the opportunity to work as part of the Scottish Parliament Legal Services team. This seat gives trainees experience of providing legal advice on parliamentary matters.

You could find yourself spending six months at a private law firm. This is a great opportunity to gain legal experience outside of government and find out more about the operation of a law firm which works closely with SGLD.

Training covers a wide range of legal work, from core professional areas – including contract, litigation and public and administrative law – to specialist advisory work for the government. You can also expect to become familiar with the development, drafting and implementation of new legislation, which are core elements of the work of the GLSS.

Most trainee seats are based at government offices in Edinburgh. We are, at present, trialling a hybrid working approach, with trainees and lawyers adopting a mix of office and home working.

Every trainee is a valuable member of their team and will be given their own projects to work on, with a strong network of support and training. 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 enjoy the balance of undertaking complex, challenging legal work in a kind and supportive environment, making our traineeship one of the best in terms of preparing you for life as a qualified lawyer.

Being supported

At the GLSS we place emphasis on management support, mentoring and flexible team working.

Our trainees are responsible for their own work but will never lack support. Each is line managed by an experienced lawyer who offers guidance and supports the personal and professional development of their trainee. We also have a dedicated Trainee Committee which provides strategic oversight, planning and management of our trainees and their traineeship path.

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 team of legal librarians and professional business support staff.

We recognise the personal and professional benefits of a good social and family life and offer excellent working conditions and a flexi-time system.

As one of the largest legal employers in Scotland, the GLSS offers opportunities to meet new people and get involved in a range of activities, from nights out to book clubs and hillwalking.

The practicalities

We usually take on between six and eight trainees per year, many of whom go on to secure permanent posts on completion of the traineeship.

Traineeship adverts usually go up on the Work for Scotland website at the start of the year, for posts starting in September of the following year. We want to make sure that the practicalities of the application and selection process don't get in the way of anyone being able to show their full potential. Therefore if you require any reasonable adjustments you can speak to a dedicated member of our team about what you need to perform at your best. Any reasonable adjustments put in place throughout the application and selection process will be agreed with you in advance.

If you would like any further information about any aspect of a traineeship with the GLSS, please email us at



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