The Devilling Process (Training as an Advocate)


  • What does devilling involve? 

Devilling starts with a foundation course in October that is classroom-based and lasts for five weeks. There is then a two-week course in January and a week of assessments in February. There is also a two-week skills course in May. Outside of those structured periods, devils are free mostly to arrange their time with their devilmasters. You will need to do four to six weeks of criminal devilling, where you will predominantly observe criminal trials and appeals that your criminal devilmaster is involved in.


  • How intensive is devilling and what is expected? 

The sole purpose of devilling is training and preparing you for practice.  No two days are the same!  You may shadow your devilmaster as they appear in court; you may assist with preparations and research in advance of hearings; and you may also help draft formal documents, including pleadings, opinions and notes of advice.  What experience you gain with your devilmaster will largely be dependent on where their practice takes them, so choosing a devilmaster whose practice you would find interesting is advisable. 

Devilmasters are experienced advocates with fully developed practices. The workload they will be dealing with is likely higher than an advocate would experience in the first few years of practice. As a devil you will be expected to keep up with your devilmasters. However, you will not be responsible for any finished work nor appear in court to argue a case. 


  • Do I need to be in Edinburgh to devil? What about travel costs? 

The classroom-based training and assessments take place in Edinburgh. Outside of this

whether you will need to travel or not depends on the practices of your devilmasters. This is something you should discuss with them at an early stage. 


  • How do I survive for nine months without pay? 

Many aspiring advocates have saved over time to build up the savings they will need to cover their costs while devilling. There are also scholarships administered by Faculty which are aimed at easing financial pressures on devils. 

Also, although you need to apply yourself full-time to devilling, you can take on external part-time work that the Clerk of Faculty and your principal devilmaster feel will not materially interfere with your training.


  • How do the scholarships work? 

There are four scholarship schemes. All applicants must show sufficient ability, but greater weighting is given when awarding the Lord Hope, Faculty, and the SCLR Scholarships to those in financial need or to those from groups currently under-represented.

The Lord Reid Scholarship is awarded in honour of the late Lord Reid of Drem from a bequest provided by him. One Lord Reid Scholarship is awarded annually to the most outstanding candidate. In recent years, the Lord Reid Scholarship award has been in the region of £10,000.

One or more Faculty Scholarships may also be awarded to candidates of particular merit. In recent years, Faculty Scholarship awards have been in the region of £5,000 per successful applicant.

The SCLR Scholarship is generously funded by the Scottish Council of Law Reporting and is administered by the Faculty’s Scholarship Committee. The criteria are similar to those of the Lord Hope Scholarships. The award for 2025 will be £6,000. It is hoped, subject to the continuing generosity of the SCLR, that a similar award will be available in future years.

The Lord Hope Scholarships are funded by contributions made by existing members of Faculty. They may be awarded by themselves or in conjunction with other scholarships where a candidate demonstrates both particular merit and particular need. The size and number of Lord Hope Scholarships depends on the need and number of eligible applicants but, often, around eight to 10 scholarship awards have been made for amounts ranging between £3,000 and £8,000.

Details of Scholarships, and how to apply, can be found on the Faculty of Advocates website here


  • Is devilling compatible with family or caring commitments? 

Devilling is an intense period of training, but caring responsibilities and family commitments can often be accommodated. Bear in mind though that there will be times when additional work outwith normal office hours might be required.


  • How difficult is it to get through the assessments week?

 While the assessments during devilling do not require as much preparation as the pre-devilling assessments, you will need to demonstrate full commitment throughout the training programme to pass the assessments. There are four assessments:


  • Examination of a witness.
  • Legal submissions.
  • Drafting a writ.
  • Drafting an opinion.


There will be an opportunity to redo an assessment should you not pass on your first attempt.


  • Can devils move into an area of law that they have not previously worked in?

Yes, although it is advisable to have a clear idea of which areas of law you may like to work in so that you can take advantage of as many opportunities to learn more about those while you devil. You may also decide to do only criminal work and there are stables at Faculty that concentrate solely in this area.


  • What steps do you need to take to start at devilling (ICO / giving up PC)

 Most obviously, you will need to leave your employment, make arrangements with a devilmaster, and pass the entrance exams. You will need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office as a data controller and pay the annual fee of around £40. You will also have to arrange with the Law Society of Scotland to be removed from the roll of solicitors and give up your practising certificate.

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