Thorntons introduces pioneering pathway to solicitor advocate qualification

Anne Miller and Iain Buchan (Thontons)

LEADING full-service Scottish law firm Thorntons has developed a new solicitor advocate programme to provide opportunities for its solicitors to build expertise within the firm.

The introduction of the programme is part of Thorntons’ long term strategy as its litigation department grows across the firm, particularly in its new Glasgow office. 

Thorntons created the solicitor advocate development unit for solicitors across all sectors of the business to participate in and build relevant experience in a supportive, collegiate environment that is open to all.   As well as specialised training on written and oral advocacy, legal research and procedures there are regular peer support sessions, with one to one mentoring focusing on individual training plans and goals.

Anne Miller, Partner at Thorntons, said: “Investment in our people supports our aspirations to be an employer of choice and to provide development pathways across the business. It is encouraging to see the progression already made by our colleagues on the solicitor advocacy programme in recent months.

“Recognition from wider industry representatives is testament to the investment we’re making at Thorntons and we’re proud to be the first to offer this type of training and development to our people. It makes Thorntons an exciting place to develop a career in litigation.”

The innovative nature of the initiative has captured the attention of leaders across the industry from sector bodies to other firms, including Neil Hay, a solicitor advocate and partner at Levy & McRae, who was a guest speaker at a training session earlier this year.

Iain Buchan is one of the Thorntons solicitors currently enrolled in the programme. He said: “Qualifying as a solicitor advocate has always been part of my long-term career development plan. Advocacy is the part of my role I enjoy most, and being able to appear in the Court of Session will mean that I can both expand my practice and undertake a wider range of work for the firm.

“The development unit covers all aspects of advocacy, from commercial disputes, to employment, family, and personal injury. It provides the structure and support network to ensure that the necessary experience and training is achieved over the course of a number of years, and I would encourage others to join the programme.”

Solicitor advocates are solicitors who have been granted extended rights of audience before the higher courts in Scotland. Regulated by the Law Society of Scotland, solicitor advocates can represent clients in both civil and criminal cases.

To become a solicitor advocate, candidates usually need to have been qualified for five years and must invest a significant amount of time in obtaining relevant experience in court conducting evidential hearings and debates to meet the minimum requirements to qualify. In addition to undertaking several exams they must also complete a practical advocacy course, spend hours witnessing Court of Session hearings and deliver an oral submission to two Court of Session judges – all while maintaining the high service levels of a demanding day job.

Headquartered in Dundee, the firm has 71 partners and employs more than 550 people across 14 Scottish offices including its Glasgow and Edinburgh locations.

For more information on Thorntons and current vacancies visit

The latest stories