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starting your training contract by completing the professional skills course

11 March 2011

Often trainees are a bit suspicious of what the Professional Skills Course (PSC) actually is and after years of exams at university and then on the LPC, they are mildly outraged to arrive at their firms and find that just when they thought they had started a ‘grown-up job’ and left exams behind they are to be shipped off for yet another course. However, the PSC in fact arms you with practical skills you will find come in handy as you are training.

On starting our training contracts with Browne Jacobson, we had 3 days at the firm with introductions to our future team, various talks on life at the firm and a community day out to get to know our fellow trainees. We were then whisked off for our first 6 days of the PSC course.

The first 3 days are focused on the ‘advocacy and communication skills’ module. On this you learn techniques and methods for improving your advocacy skills, in areas such as trial advocacy (where you get to try out examination & cross-examination of witnesses and opening and closing speeches), factual analysis of a case and chambers advocacy. If you are already a confident public speaker it’s a good chance to hone those skills you developed on the LPC and if you are less confident then you leave armed with the skills necessary to become a confident advocate when the time comes to put it into practice for real. There is no exam at the end because you are assessed as you go along.

The next 3 days are taken up with the ‘financial and business skills’ module. On this you spend 2 days learning about various types of investments and how they relate to portfolio planning, the financial services industry generally and the legal and regulatory regime that applies to solicitors in providing financial advice. Whilst some of it will sound familiar from your LPC, it’s helpful to go into more depth on the types of investments that are available and to be aware of your duties when informing clients about these.

On the morning of the third day you take a 90 minute written exam. Following this you spend the final afternoon gaining an overview of the regulation of accounts and the relevance of financial interpretation to solicitors.

The final aspect of the core PSC modules is the ‘client care and professional standards’ module which runs for 2 days. Whilst this addresses various aspects of client care such as ethics, professional conduct and fees, it also focuses on time management, working with others and professional development.

The PSC also consists of various elective modules, which you will study during the course of your training contract, but that’s another blog…