What are your options if you're going on maternity leave or taking a career break?

If you are going be away for less than 13 months...

...and are reasonably sure that you will be returning to your previous role, then we recommend that you keep hold of your practising certificate. You will still need to meet your CPD requirement (pro-rated for those on maternity leave) and pay the necessary fees, but it does mean that you can return to practice without having to reapply.

If you are going to be away for more than 13 months...

... you might consider giving up your practising certificate. If you do give it up we recommend that you take up a non-practising member or roll-only membership option as it helps keep you in touch with what’s going on. You would also be subject to disclosure, and required to reapply for your practising certificate (see below) and may have to come back on a restricted basis. If you are returning from maternity leave, that restriction should not conflict with your employer’s obligation to offer you your job with the same terms and conditions.

See our Parents in the Profession Guide for more information.

Returning to practice

There are a couple of steps that you need to go through before  you can get your practising certificate back so we recommend that you allow plenty of time. You need to be on the roll of solicitors before you apply for a practising certificate. If you are not on the roll, please read the section below on returning to the roll of solicitors. If you are already on the roll, the next step is to contact our Member Registration team who will advise you on the application process, your CPD requirements and, depending how you intend to practise, what your fees will be.


If you have not held a practising certificate in the last 13 months, you will need to submit a Standard Disclosure application. It is important that you complete this form accurately and provide the required identification, copies of which should include one photo ID and one showing your personal address. We complete the countersignature section. There is an additional fee of £25 in relation to the disclosure application which is payable to the Law Society of Scotland.
Please note that, at busy times, it can take up six weeks for Disclosure Scotland to process an application.

Practising certificate application

The application is available from the Member Registration team and you should contact them in the first instance.

It is important that you include the following information in your practising certificate application -

  • Your full employment history since you last held a practising certificate, with particular reference to any work involving the provision of legal services
  • Details of any continuing professional development or training undertaken during that period
  • If you were subject to regulation by another legal services or other regulatory authority (if yes, please provide details)
  • An explanation of why you want a practising certificate

The reason we need this information is that it allows us to make a more accurate assessment as to the conditions we might apply to your practising certificate. As you might appreciate, we need to consider applying conditions to solicitors who have been away from practice for a period of more than 13 months. We do this to ensure that returning solicitors are given time to get back up to speed before being allowed to carry out certain activities. The restriction is generally around not practising as a partner (manager) and would be in place for 12 months. An unrestricted practising certificate may be available in appropriate circumstances and you can contact the Member Registration team for more information on this.

For in-house solicitors, if your new employer queries why conditions have been applied to your practising certificate, please contact inhouse@lawscot.org.uk and we’ll be happy to provide any clarification or reassurance required.

For information on the legislative background and the appeal process – sections 15 and 16 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.

Returning to the roll of solicitors

To return to the roll of solicitors, please contact the Member Registration team for information.
You will need:

  • an application form, including:
    • an affidavit sworn before a notary
    • two character references from existing members (not within the same practice)
  • a new Standard Disclosure Scotland application
  • to pay the current fee