All trainee solicitors must at some point during their training contract complete the Professional Skills Course. This consists of completing 3 core modules as well as 24 hours of electives (12 of which must be face to face tuition). At the end of my third seat I have now completed each of the core modules leaving only the required electives.
This is the final hurdle you will need to overcome. The studying is very different to that which you may have experienced at university. The modules are largely based on interactive sessions which will likely act as a top up to knowledge gained from the LPC. Two of the core modules are assessed; the Financial and Business Skills course (by way of an exam following your first two days of teaching) and the Advocacy module (through two mock trials).
The word ‘exam’ has frightening connotations, but rest assured the course leaders will ensure that you have everything you need to be fully prepared. The first two days of the Financial and Business Skills course are very fast paced and there is a lot to take on board, which is why you are given the weekend to revise. The exam is open book and you will have all the information required at your fingertips. I did find myself pressured by time, so I would strongly advise you familiarise yourself with your course material and organise your notes so that you are able to find things quickly. The exam will primarily focus on the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 as well as the SRA Code of Conduct’s Principles and Outcomes. Prior your first day, it would do no harm to refresh your knowledge of the basic aspects of these areas.
The Advocacy module has been the most enjoyable so far. The first day and a half consisted of the preparation and execution of a mock criminal trial. This was then repeated on a mock civil trial. The class was split into two groups and each individual was then given their role. I was tasked with conducting the cross examination of the Prosecution’s witness in the criminal trial and the closing speech for the Defendant in the civil trial. I also played a witness which proved to be quite amusing as you are encouraged to really get into character. As for the assessment, again, don’t worry, it is a team effort so you all help each other out, making it a great place to network with other trainee solicitors.
The Client Care and the Professional Standards modules each take one day and aim to reinforce skills most people will already be familiar with. These include managing client relationships as well as ensuring you know the SRA rules and how to comply with them.
Having completed my core modules, I now just need to complete 24 hours’ worth of electives. I recommend making sure you book early to make sure you get a place on the course you want as they do fill up fast.