What is the HNC / HND Legal Services?

The HNC / HND Legal Services is a Higher National award that is often used as an access course to the LLB, but may also be of interest to those who already work, or wish to work, as a paralegal in a law firm or commercial organisation.

The HNC is studied over one year and the HND over two years. Some universities will accept either an HNC or HND for entry to the LLB.

This course will develop the competencies students need to undertake support roles, such as being a paralegal, in the legal profession or in a legal context in a variety of business, public sector or financial organisations. The HND further develops these skills and themes, and is often used as a stepping stone to the LLB for those unable to gain access to the LLB directly or study at university straight away.

Moving onto the LLB

If you wish to progress to an LLB degree programme with a view to eventually becoming a solicitor, an HNC or HND is recognised by some universities and will allow you to start in year 1 of the LLB degree, subject to the university’s normal admissions procedures.

"It was a great stepping-stone in so many ways. I was taught about the law in many different areas and got a great overview. It gave me a great basis for when I did start my university degree as I already knew the basics and so I felt, in some ways, ahead of the rest of the class. It was also ideal in preparing me for the type of learning that I was going to experience at university Freya Anderson Ward, NQ Solicitor, COPFS

Bridge the gap pinboard sign

HNC to Trainee

COPFS trainee Freya Anderson Ward explains why, for her, the HNC Legal Services was the perfect stepping stone to the LLB.
What will I study?

The HNC/D can provide an understanding of and insight to the 'professional subjects' you will go on to study on the LLB. Examples of the subjects you may study are as follows:

  • Scottish Criminal Law
  • Legal Research Techniques
  • Scottish Legal System
  • Commercial Law
  • Scots Private Law
  • Legal Ethics and Cash Handling in the Legal Office Environment
  • Scottish Criminal Procedure
  • Sheriff Court Civil Procedures
  • Communication - Analysing and Presenting Complex Information
  • Legal Services
  • Property Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Law and the Communication Industries
  • Sheriff Court Procedure for Divorce and Dissolution of Civil Partnerships
  • Individual Employment Relations: Law
  • Conveyancing
  • Legal Services
  • Accounting and Tax for Executries
  • Bankruptcy and Diligence
  • Environmental Land Law
  • Company Law
  • Executry Law and Practice
  • An Introduction to the European Union
  • Legal Aid in Scotland

"Taking contract law in the first year of my LLB was that little bit easier when I’d already been taught about the court structure and property law was contextualised in second year because I had been shown how to draft a disposition"  David Durie, DPLP Student

Reasons to consider studying at college prior to university

"The HNC in Legal Services was a great introduction into the legal world and provided the foundation which allowed me to build my career uponKevin Currie, Trainee, Anderson Bain LLP

Studying a HNC or HND Legal Services at college prior to university can be beneficial in many ways, regardless of whether you achieved the grades you hoped for at school or whether you are looking for a change in career.

  • College can help with the transition to the LLB

The course can provide you with an understanding of the required subjects prior to studying them at university. In addition, many college students report that the HNC/D has helped them to develop their critical and analytical skills, allowing them to study and succeed at degree level.  

  • Build self-confidence and belief

Studying at college can help build the self-confidence of anyone who has ever felt that going to university and achieving an LLB was beyond them. This could give you the self-belief to continue on the route to qualification and qualify as a solicitor.

  • Develop people skills

These will assist you in debating, discussing and negotiating through a number of different situations, not only whilst studying but also later in the workplace. Regardless of the career path you choose, confidence, articulation, courtesy and a professional attitude are all important attributes looked upon favourably by employers, especially in the legal profession.

  • Study a broad range of topics

The college course will provide you with a solid grounding from which to move on to your next step, whether that be further study or employment.

Employers: Why you should consider candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds

College students come from a mixture of backgrounds and age ranges. Some attend straight from school, where they may not have managed to attain sufficient qualifications or simply didn't know quite what they wanted to do yet. Some are mature students who want to change their career or achieve a dream career after a change in caring responsibilities.

For these reasons alone, a wealth of knowledge and transferable skills are often overlooked, simply because the candidates have not qualified via the 'traditional' pathway of school followed by university.

An HNC or HND in Legal Services is an articulation route to studying law at university and graduates should be afforded the same level of consideration as those who have qualified via the traditional route.

The legal profession should be reflective of a society in which we strive to achieve equality for all via fair access and widening participation, and colleges play an important part in ensuring that legal education is open to all, no matter their backgrounds.