The Diploma in Professional Legal Practice is essential for entry to both the solicitors' and advocates' branches of the profession and meets the requirements of the Law Society of Scotland's Professional Education and Training Stage 1 (PEAT 1).
The Diploma is a vocational course on which you will learn the ethical rules, practical knowledge and personal skills required of lawyers in Scotland. During the Diploma you will be introduced to the practices, values and attitudes of the legal profession. You will find a sharp shift in focus from undergraduate academia, with its intricate theoretical concepts to intensive skills-based learning and professional training. We train our students to be practising lawyers. We seek to produce professional, resilient, critical thinkers with a thorough knowledge of legal principles and a proper appreciation of the practical context within which they are applied.
We place great importance on preparing our Diploma students for what really happens in legal practice. We emphasise collaborative learning and transactional learning throughout the Diploma, which gives our students hands on experience of the reality of work in an office environment. We aim to produce graduates who will be well equipped for the job market whether that is in the legal profession or in other fields.
The Law Society of Scotland has produced a set of guidelines for the Diploma curriculum which forms the framework for the courses in all Diploma centres. Each centre implements the guidelines in its own way. The student experience we provide on our Diploma is fundamentally practical. For example,
- Students are assigned to firms of four at the commencement of the Diploma and a major feature of the teaching and learning is that it is done in their firms. This emphasis on collaborative learning anticipates the environment in which most trainee solicitors will be working.
- In addition to learning legal subjects, our students learn generic skills which they will require for their professional lives. Problem solving, oral and written presentation, interviewing, negotiating, and many other necessary skills are taught during the Foundation Courses at the start of each semester and covered throughout the various individual subjects.
- The back ground to much of our practical work is the award winning “virtual” community of Ardcalloch. Ardcalloch is a town which we have created and in which a wide variety of events take place which give rise to legal issues of one kind or another for its citizens. We use realistic simulations to recreate situations which trainees will experience in their work. This initiative has a world- wide reputation in legal education. See, for example, references to Ardcalloch in www.law.harvard.edu/programs and www.solicitorsjournal.com.
- We have devised sophisticated experiential or transactional learning projects. These have been developed by our teaching staff over many years and provide a rich reservoir of resources on which many practical exercises and legal activities are based.
- These activities are conducted on and supported by the SIMPLE (Simulated Professional Learning Environment) IT process which enables student firms corresponding with clients, fellow firms and other simulated characters throughout a real transaction.
- We have standardised clients who are specially trained “clients” who can give instructions in virtual cases and give feedback to students on their performance.
- Students are encouraged to think and act as trainee solicitors from the commencement of the Diploma, and are expected to display a professional approach to their work. Work is done in firms and in small tutorial groups in which teaching and supervision is provided by practising solicitors, who have been trained as course tutors.
- Most of our electives involve active participation, with students conducting Employment Tribunal hearings before real Tribunal judges, conducting a criminal trial in the Sheriff Court, having client meetings in the negotiation of family disputes and a whole range of other activities based upon the work which trainees will be required to do.
The Diploma is designed to generate a comprehensive professional working environment which simulates that which the prospective trainee will encounter once qualified. One of the most positive aspects of the course is the opportunity provided to meet both fellow students and tutors who will become fellow practitioners, and whose paths will cross regularly during their working life in this relatively small legal jurisdiction. The University of Strathclyde Law School enjoys long and established links through its pool of some 120 tutors and visiting professors drawn from across the legal profession.
The core curriculum consists of seven compulsory courses, plus a choice of five from twelve electives.
- Professional Practice and Ethics
- Business and Financial Awareness
- Private Client
- Civil Litigation
- Criminal Litigation
- Personal Injury Claims Handling
Plus a Choice of 5 from the following electives:
- Business Accounting for Legal Professionals
- Advanced Criminal Advocacy
- Advanced Private Client
- Commerical Contracts and IP
- Commerical Conveyancing
- Company Law
- Employment Law in Practice
- Family Business
- Family Law
- Mediation and Mediation Advocacy
- Practical Public Administration
- Work-Based Learning Module in Legal Practice
The Strathclyde Diploma is offered as both a full-time course delivered during one academic year and a part-time course over two years with part time students dividing the necessary subjects equally over the two years.
Full time students
Teaching of the full time Diploma commences with our Foundation Course in week one of the first semester, followed by tutorial teaching mostly from Tuesday to Thursday each week. There is a further dedicated skills training period in week one of semester two along with teaching of electives which are usually from Tuesday to Thursday.
Part time students
Part time students are required to attend the Foundation Course for week one of the first semester and the skills sessions in week one of the second semester. Otherwise, their teaching takes place primarily from 6 till 8 on Tuesday to Thursday evenings during the two semesters. In exceptional cases, special arrangements may need to be made but the teaching is designed to permit part time students to continue with their day jobs uninterrupted.
A qualifying LLB degree from a Scottish University with all Foundation outcomes achieved (see DPLP Admissions Guidance Notes on the right for full details).
Diploma course tuition fees for 2013/2014 have been set at £6,000 plus £250 for materials.
Extensive course materials including handbooks, on-line resources, webcast and multi-media materials are provided as part of each course.. They are supplemented by some essential text books. Normally we are able to negotiate substantial discounts with the publishers and are able to supply these to you at cost price. Distribution of materials and textbooks usually takes place at Diploma enrolment and matriculation at which point payment is required in full.
Please refer to the Law Society of Scotland Guidance Notes for Students document on the right for full details.
Career Development Loans:
See the Admissions Guidance Notes for further details.
The Pritchard Educational Trust: Please note the existence of the Pritchard Educational Trust, which was established to assist those who are of academic ability and wish to qualify as solicitors but who, through financial constraints, are unable to do so. Particular emphasis is given to those students embarking on the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice. See Law Society Guidance Notes and www.lawscot.co.uk/becomingasolicitor/students/grants,-trusts--fundingfor details.
The Clark Foundation for Legal Education: The Clark Foundation for Legal Education invites applications for Grants and Scholarships from persons practising law in Scotland whether as solicitors or advocates and from persons studying at Scottish Universities or other institutions of higher education based in Scotland.
The purpose of the Foundation is to promote and advance the legal and business education and training of Scots lawyers and students of Scots Law. Awards will be made annually in September and application forms should be returned no later than the end of March. To request an application form please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Stewart Bell, Full Time DPLP Student 2011/12
"I really enjoyed the practical aspect of the Diploma course at Strathclyde. All of the subjects took a very hands-on approach and allowed me to develop my skills in areas such as advocacy, negotiation, interviewing and drafting. The opportunity to work in a “virtual firm” was also a great experience and I feel it’s helped to develop my ability to work as part of a team, something which will no doubt benefit me when I start my traineeship"
Sarah Walker, Full Time DPLP student 2012/13
“I was a solicitor in the forensic criminal trial. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and now I feel I will be prepared when I go into court as a solicitor. I have a greater understanding of the whole court process.”
Anthony Bone, Part time DPLP student 2012/13
“Working in firms works really well although much depends on ability of firm members to communicate. Self & peer assessment gives an opportunity to ensure that a proper balance is maintained in terms of relationships and commitment to workloads. Webcasts are of excellent quality in preparation, delivery and content and enable great flexibility for those of us in full-time employment (not to mention full-time family commitments) as we can access webcasts at any time of the day at home or at work.”
Stephanie Orr, Full time DPLP student 2012/13
"Working as a lawyer within the virtual town of Ardcalloch has been a very lifelike experience and I felt that our law firm became real. It gave me confidence sending out letters and corresponding about a case in the way I anticipate I will be required to do in practice."