Legal traineeships

Information and how to apply for the Government Legal Service for Scotland traineeship programme.

Each year a number of 2 year legal traineeships are made available offering the opportunity to work within the Government Legal Service for Scotland (GLSS).

The GLSS traineeship

Working as a trainee government lawyer is intellectually challenging and rewarding. The work of Government is varied, interesting and exciting and much of the legal work here is unique.  GLSS traineeships are suited to law students who have a particular interest in public law and public service. Trainees spend time in four areas of practice (known as ‘seats’) each lasting for six months.

Most trainee seats are based at government offices in Edinburgh, but there may be opportunities or requirements for a seat in other locations. You might be working in Glasgow, on secondment to a private sector law firm or to Scottish Parliament Legal Services.

GLSS lawyers are involved in almost all aspects of government and you can expect your training to cover a wide range of legal work from core professional areas – like contract, litigation and public and administrative law – to specialist advisory work for the government and associated agencies. Trainees can also expect to become familiar with the development, drafting and implementation of new law, which are core elements of the work of the GLSS.

GLSS trainees have a good record of securing permanent posts after qualifying, either within the Scottish Government or in the wider GLSS. Decisions on trainee retention are taken on a year-by-year basis, depending on budgets and vacancies at the relevant time, and there may be the possibility of a permanent role after the two-year training period, subject to the existence of suitable opportunities, satisfactory performance during your traineeship and success in a formal assessment centre.

Careers in the GLSS

One aspect which makes working in the GLSS unique is that lawyers tend to move between different areas of work over the course of their careers. They are viewed as specialist government lawyers, rather than specialising in a particular subject area for lengthy periods of time. This approach means that lawyers develop transferable skills and are able to deal with novel subjects which frequently arise.

A GLSS lawyer’s work may involve handling high profile, sensitive litigation or dealing with novel devolution or other constitutional problems. This work is often newsworthy and it is always necessary to consider its political consequences, potential sensitivities or wider implications. Given the nature of the work, the GLSS lawyer has a very influential role and a real opportunity to make a difference.

As well as having opportunities to work across the different offices of the GLSS, lawyers may also be seconded to work in policy posts, particularly in areas which relate to legal policy. There are also opportunities to provide support for public inquiries.


GLSS lawyers are all civil servants who are bound by the Civil Service Code

Recruitment is done by way of fair and open competition and operates with diversity and inclusion at its core. The GLSS reflects the Scottish Government ambitions for diversity and inclusion and wants its lawyers to reflect the people of Scotland and the work we do. We particularly welcome applications from groups currently under-represented in Scottish Government and the legal profession in Scotland, including people with a disability, people from minority ethnic communities and people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. As part of our commitment to our Disability Confident Employer status, disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria will be invited to attend the assessment centre stage of the selection process.

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.

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. 

In line with Scottish Government policy, applications and interviews are competency based. If successful in your application, you will be invited to an interview which will involve a competency-based interview, and usually other forms of assessment such as a presentation, group exercise or written exercise.

More information about the offices of the GLSS

Scottish Government Legal Directorate (SGLD)

This is a directorate of the Scottish Government, providing legal services and advice to the Government and its agencies.

SGLD lawyers are responsible for:

  • litigation and tribunal work
  • commercial law and procurement advice
  • instructing bills and drafting subordinate legislation
  • legislative competence and devolution matters, including consideration of the European Convention on Human Rights and EU Law

Legal Secretariat to the Lord Advocate

The Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland are the principal legal advisers to the Scottish Government, providing legal opinions to Scottish Ministers in cases where advice at the highest level is required.

The Legal Secretariat supports the Law Officers in this role, for instance by researching and helping to draft opinions and by providing advice on other matters referred to the Law Officers. The work very often involves complex issues of human rights and constitutional law.

Office of the Advocate General (OAG)

OAG is the UK Government’s Scottish legal team. Lawyers provide legal advice, drafting and litigation services to the UK Government on policy and legislation affecting Scotland and the Scottish devolution settlement.

OAG lawyers also support the Advocate General in his role as a UK Law Officer and represent the UK Government in the courts and tribunals in Scotland.

Scottish Law Commission

Scotland’s Law Reform body makes recommendations to the Scottish Government to simplify, modernise and improve Scots law. Lawyers often give independent advice on law reform, examining whole areas of law and making recommendations to improve them.

Revenue Scotland

Revenue Scotland is the tax authority with responsibility for the administration, collection and management of Scotland’s devolved taxes, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Scottish Landfill Tax.

Read some GLSS trainee blogs.

Legal Traineeship Application Process



GLSS Secretariat
B(N) Victoria Quay

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