What is a Solicitor Advocate and what does extended rights of audience mean?

Solicitor advocates are solicitors who have been granted extended rights of audience before the higher courts in Scotland. 

In civil cases solicitor advocates can represent clients alongside advocates in:

  • the Court of Session
  • the Supreme Court
  • the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

In criminal cases can represent clients alongside advocates in:

  • the High Court of Justiciary
  • the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

Solicitor advocates are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland.

Solicitor advocates may work with a case from start to finish and will work on almost all aspects of a case. Solicitor advocates would usually be part of a team and work for a firm, where they would be acting on behalf of the client across all levels including research, attending meetings, preparing the court work and appearing in court.

Depending on the area you want to work in, you must undertake and pass either the Civil or Criminal Rights of Audience training and satisfy the Law Society Committee that you have the relevant skills and knowledge and are fit a proper to have rights of audience in the higher courts. Find out more about obtaining rights of audience.

The Statement of Standards for Solicitor Advocates – Performance Indicators forms the basis for assessment, a solicitor advocate must be competent in each of these to practice effectively in the Courts to which rights of audience are sought.

Why become a Solicitor Advocate?

Solicitor advocates are solicitors first and foremost, which means they have a general initial court training and rights of audience to appear in lower courts as well as practice of working in various areas of law. Most will have experience of dealing with clients and cases, before deciding to specialise in court work and gain extended rights of audience. After gaining experience in court, solicitors can then take extra advocacy training and sit more exams. If successful the solicitors' rights of audience are extended, allowing them to represent clients in some of the highest courts in Scotland and the UK.

  • Opportunity to work cases through to completion which builds a strong case/client solicitor relationship

  • Potential support from a firm while training, working within an organisation with access to CPD, training and networking without having to leave full time work.

  • Rights of Audience training course counts as CPD.

  • Personal development, training and learning in a more specialist area while working as a solicitor will develop skills in a range of areas including; time management, communication and client service as well as an enhanced understanding of the court process.

Solicitor Advocates | Case Studies

"As an Associate at Simpson and Marwick (now Clyde and Co) I specialised in personal injury defender litigation, but was keen to expand my expertise, not only to provide me with more challenge but also to allow me to progress in my legal career. I had extensive court experience so decided I would attempt to qualify as a solicitor advocate. The course was demanding: I required to sit a number of exams, attend weekend courses, sit in on numerous hearings at the Court of Session and prepare and deliver an oral submission in front of two Court of Session judges, at the same time as continuing to deliver good service in my demanding day job. The hard work was worth it, and I qualified. I started to receive instructions from colleagues to appear in court, at pre-trial meetings and prepare written pleadings, over and above my existing case load. It was a challenge and time management became very important, but I was exposed to a far greater variety of litigation. I have no regrets about qualifying and would recommend the course to anyone who is looking to enhance their court skill set."

Lynne Macfarlane

Rights of audience

Find out more about applying for extended rights of audience including the application process, performance indicators and rules.