Now in my second seat, and have moved to the Milton Keynes office to work in the company commercial department. The work I have been doing has been very varied and I have been involved in some employment work, alongside the company commercial work. I have also managed to remain involved in commercial property transactions, and although I did commercial property in my last seat, the work in the Milton Keynes office is very different from that in our Sandy office. Commercial property in Milton Keynes involves more leases in large city units, rather than the agricultural work and s.106 Agreements I was assisting with in Sandy. I am really enjoying the new office, which is perfectly placed to do some shopping at lunchtime. However, admittedly I do occasionally miss putting on my wellies for site visits!
As Charlotte Hunt, Luke Shaw and I are now in our second seats (how time has flown), we have begun our Professional Skills Course (PSC). The PSC is a compulsory course which all trainee solicitors must complete before they qualify as a solicitor. The SRA recommends that trainee solicitors do the course after at least six months of full time training, in our case after one seat has been completed. Woodfines therefore encourages trainees to undertake the PSC during their second and third seats so that the training will be most effective. However, the firm is flexible and has allowed one trainee, who began her training contract in March, to carry out the core modules of the PSC during her first seat. The firm, and our respective supervising partners in each seat, have also been very flexible in terms of the format and timings of the PSC. For instance, we decided collectively that we wanted to do the core modules in stages rather than taking two consecutive weeks out of the office.
The course is broken down into 48 hours of core modules and 24 hours of electives. The core modules and length of time required on each module are as follows:
- Client Care and Professional Standard (12 hours);
- Financial and Business Skills (18 hours); and
- Advocacy and Communication Skills (18 hours).
The Financial and Business Skills module is carried out over three days, usually a Thursday and Friday followed by an exam on Monday. The exam is 90 minutes long.
The Advocacy and Communication Skills module also runs over three days, and is practically assessed on the skills demonstrated throughout the three days of the module.
To date we have completed the Client Care and Professional Standards module, which spanned over two days. The first day was spent on each element of the module. We are undertaking the other two core modules over the next few months.
In addition to these core modules, 24 hours’ worth of electives must be completed. A lot of the providers teach half of each elective module by face-to-face tuition, and the other half of the elective is taught online. There are a variety of electives to choose from, some of which focus on specific areas of law, and others which focus on developing more general skills for example, time management and writing skills.
The SRA refers to the PSC as being designed to build upon the skills and knowledge learnt in the Legal Practice Course, and the module we have completed certainly reflected this. The module was very practical and considered lots of scenarios that you may come across in practice, both as a trainee, and later on as a solicitor.
There was a lot of interaction throughout the course, and it was a good opportunity to share our own experiences with other trainees at a variety of firms. The numerous tea and coffee breaks also provided for some networking.