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Core courses

Courses on the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice are designed to provide you with the core practical skills and knowledge to enter the legal profession. The programme commences with a Foundation Skills Week which forms part of core teaching.

Chelsea Clayton, Diploma in Professional Legal Practice Graduate, 2021
My time studying the Diploma at the University of Edinburgh has given me invaluable insight into the legal profession and has equipped me with the skill set and self-assurance needed to transition confidently into my role as a trainee solicitor.
Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, 2021

Learning and teaching activities consists of a mixture live lectures, practical workshops, online podcasts and self-testing.

The overall aim of the Civil Court Practice course is to develop skills in relation to the conduct, funding and resolution of civil disputes by litigation.

The course is structured around a series of lectures addressing the process of civil litigation in Scotland with particular reference to the sheriff court, covering inter alia:

  • the rules of jurisdiction in Scotland
  • the sheriff court Ordinary Cause Rules
  • the structure of other civil processes in the sheriff court
  • the law relating to pleadings

There are eleven three-hour workshops requiring students to undertake a series of exercises as they work through two case studies. The case studies replicate typical civil actions and are intended to allow students to undertake oral and written tasks as the actions progress.

This course aims to promote commercial awareness, teach and develop the practical legal, tax and commercial aspects relating to the formation, management, administration and operation of private limited companies and alternative choices of business medium.

The course develops the relevant practical skills of students in the preparation and provision of commercial, legal and tax advice to clients in the context of a variety of exercises covering the key commercial transactions and procedures typically undertaken and/or experienced by private limited companies.

The Conveyancing/Commercial Conveyancing course is a key part of the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at Edinburgh. The course covers the fundamental principles and practice of conveyancing: the transfer of legal title to heritable property, both residential and commercial, from one person to another.

The course is taught over two semesters:

Semester one focuses on letter writing and drafting including dispositions, servitudes, real burdens, standard securities and missives. Other subjects covered are deeds by unregistered holders, residential leasing, tenements and execution of documents.

In semester two the focus is on transactional work, including examination of title, stamp duty land tax and searching.

While the first semester is taught mainly in the context of residential conveyancing, generic skills relevant to commercial conveyancing are also learned, which are expanded on at the end of the second semester with four workshops dedicated to commercial conveyancing (commercial leases, management documentation and the purchase of commercial property).

For many of our students the Criminal Court Practice course is their first introduction to advocacy and through the medium of Scottish summary criminal procedure we aim to give students solid grounding in the basics of oral advocacy.

Workshops are built around complete sets of simulated papers and students learn the skills of advocacy and how criminal practice and procedure come together.

At the end of the course all students deliver a simulated plea in mitigation before one of the Sheriffs at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and we are very grateful for the strong links between this course and the Shrieval bench at Edinburgh.

The Financial Services and Related Skills/Accountancy course aims to ensure that students have a fundamental knowledge and awareness of the business and financial environment in which a legal practice operates. Topics covered are wide-ranging and include:

  • the economic environment
  • pensions
  • investments
  • mortgages
  • tax and benefits
  • regulatory reform
  • interpretation of accounts and
  • Solicitor Accounts Rules.

This is a very interesting and topical course which will benefit students on both a personal and professional level.

The course is taught over two semesters. Semester one focuses on financial products, planning and regulation. The first four weeks of semester two are dedicated to the accountancy section of the course.

The Private Client course covers all aspects of Wills, Trusts, and Executries as well as Succession and Tax Planning, and Adults with Incapacity.

The course aims to ensure that students have a sound practical knowledge of how to advise clients at different stages of their personal life, which will involve will drafting, providing lifetime and post-death tax planning advice, providing advice on trusts and their uses, the process of administering an executry, and issues surrounding mental incapacity and powers of attorney. This course also aims to give students an insight into the nature of private client practice and ties in the knowledge learnt from some of the other core courses in order to provide a client with holistic view of their affairs.

Although tax knowledge is an important part of the Private Client course it should be noted that tax will be taught pervasively across the entire Diploma.

The aim of this course is to expose Diploma students to the skills they will require as trainee solicitors and beyond. It covers:

  • Professional conduct and ethics
  • Presentation, interviewing and negotiation skills
  • Work, file and risk management
  • Communication with clients and colleagues
  • Thinking commercially: the law firm as a business

The course aims to set attitudes to work to enable students to work to their full potential during their traineeship. It is taught through a mixture of workshops, specific skills sessions and assignments. The assignments test student’s ability to work on their own and as part of a team.

An important part of the Professional Skills and Responsibility course is participation in the work of the Edinburgh University Free Legal Advice Centre. In particular all students will conduct an interview, research a case, provide written advice and manage a file to completion at the Free Legal Advice Centre.