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Parliament House

The Profession of Advocate

The Faculty of Advocates is an independent body of lawyers who have been admitted to practise as Advocates before the Courts of Scotland.

Painting of The Scottish Bench and Bar in 1890 by W Skeoch Cumming. Acknowledgement: The Faculty of Advocates

The Faculty has been in existence since 1532 when the College of Justice was set up by Act of the Scots Parliament, but its origins are believed to predate that event. It is self-regulating, and the Court delegates to the Faculty the task of preparing Intrants for admission as Advocates. This task involves a process of examination and practical instruction known as devilling, during which Intrants benefit from intensive structured training in the special skills of advocacy. No-one can be presented to the Court as suitable to be a practising Advocate without satisfying these training requirements. The Faculty also provides for its Members an ongoing programme of talks, seminars and conferences covering a wide range of topics. The Faculty’s training courses are regarded as among the best in the English speaking world.

Lord Monboddo, Hugo Arnot, advocate and Lord Kames, by John Kay, 1874. Two eminent and erudite judges of the second half of the eighteenth century in conversation with the slender author of the History of Edinburgh

The Faculty is led by its Dean, who is elected by the whole membership, supported by the Vice-Dean, Treasurer, Clerk, Keeper of the Library and Chairman of Faculty Services Ltd, all of whom are also elected.

View a list of the current Office Bearers.

The Faculty includes practising and non-practising members. The current practising Bar includes an increasing proportion of women. Women make up approximately one quarter practising membership. Total numbers now stand at just over 460, of whom approximately one fifth are Queen’s Counsel. The taking of Silk, as assumption of the title of Queen’s Counsel is commonly known, depends upon the prerogative of Her Majesty. This is exercised through the First Minister upon the recommendation of the Lord Justice-General. The Dean of Faculty is consulted in the course of this process. As a general rule, Silk is awarded to experienced Counsel, who are considered to have achieved distinction in full-time practice.

The Faculty of Advocates
Parliament House

Telephone: 0131 226 5071