Legal market overview in Scottish Bar

Faculty of Advocates

Scotland, like England, has an independent Bar which undertakes a similar role to English barristers, but operates with a number of key terminological and structural differences in self-employed practice. Advocates in Scotland are governed by the Faculty of Advocates, an independent professional body housing over 400 members, the majority of which have an affiliation with one of nine stables, although there are some members with no stable affiliation. The Faculty acts as a regulatory body for the advocates, and manages Faculty Services Limited, which provides back office functions for all but a few advocates. Scottish stables are comparable to English chambers in their provision of clerking and distributing work among their members, although many aspects that would be handled by English sets independently are handled by Faculty Services Limited, which acts as the legal employer of the clerks. Those with a role equivalent to a senior clerk in England and Wales are often styled as simply the clerk, and are supported by deputy clerks, while a stable director is roughly analogous to an English head of chambers. Historically many stables were named after their head clerk, although a number have rebranded away from this following changes of clerking leadership over time. One substantive rather than terminological difference in Scottish training procedures is that those qualifying as advocates generally must go through the same traineeship in a law firm as solicitors, meaning moves between the two professions are common. Additionally, a number of Scottish advocates are dual qualified as English barristers, and are full or associate members of elite London sets. Scottish Advocates also have a degree of cross-over with the Bar of Northern Ireland. Scotland also features a QC system, run independently from the English system – eleven were appointed in the 2021 round. Eight out of nine of stables are based in Parliament House in Edinburgh, and share working spaces and consultation rooms in nearby facilities. The exception to this is Glasgow-headquartered Optimum Advocates, one of two criminal stables alongside Black Chambers; both are known for handling a varied workload in this area, including the most serious criminal cases. Scotland also has a talented family Bar as well, a number of whom call Westwater Advocates and Arnot Manderson Advocates home, although neither set is exclusively focused on that area.