By studying the Professional Skills Course (PSC) at The University of Law, you can choose between a wide range of over 40 elective modules. In this article, we will look at how to prepare for the Contentious Skills electives.
What are the elective modules?
The PSC is made up of three core modules and four electives. At The University of Law, you have a choice of more than 40 electives, which are grouped into Practice Skills, Contentious Skills, and Non-Contentious Skills. The electives offered are constantly changing in line with clients’ needs and new modules are continually added to the existing portfolio.
Each module involves six hours of tuition, delivered over one full day (or in some cases two days). You must do a minimum of 24 hours of electives — in addition to 48 hours of compulsory modules — as part of the PSC. The electives are usually completed after the core modules.
Unlike for the compulsory core, there are no prescribed written standards or formal assessments for the electives. You can choose any four electives, provided they add up to 24 hours of training.
What are the Contentious Skills electives?
The University of Law currently offers 17 electives under the Contentious Skills category. These modules are sub-divided into different areas of law, namely Criminal Law, Dispute Resolution, Employment Law, Family Law, Personal Injury, and Private Client.
The focus of the Contentious Skills electives is to help individuals develop specialist knowledge in an area of law which interests them. They are designed to develop delegates’ case management, drafting, and advocacy skills within their chosen area of interest.
The modules range from one to two-day courses and include everything from Criminal Trial in the Magistrates’ Courts and Civil Litigation Drafting Skills through to Employment Contract and Family Law Advocacy Practice – Care Proceedings.
How to prepare for the Contentious Skills electives
None of the Contentious Skills modules involve a formal assessment. The only assessments you must pass as part of the PSC are the core module assessments. This means The University of Law does not require any advance preparation for the Contentious Skills modules. Where an elective builds on another module, this is indicated in the course description.
Whilst prior preparation is not required, it may be beneficial to invest time into deciding which modules you want to undertake. You can select any electives, from any category, regardless of which university campus they are taught at. However, you may benefit from selecting electives which address gaps in your skill set or knowledge, and which focus on an area of law which you are hoping to train or qualify in.
Delegates hoping to qualify as a family lawyer, for example, may consider completing one of the family law modules, which look at areas such as domestic abuse, interviewing skills in family work, and public sector childcare law.
On the other hand, delegates who are keen to work in employment law may consider studying one of the employment law modules, which examine how to resolve disputes in the workplace, employment contract law, and employment tribunal advocacy.
If you do not know where you would like to qualify or what seats you will do as part of your period of recognised training or training contract, it may be better to choose a wide range of electives rather than focus on a particular area of law.
When must you do the electives?
Generally speaking, you must complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) before starting the PSC, though there are some circumstances where the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) may authorise an individual to start the PSC before completing the LPC.
The SRA recommends trainees complete the core modules before completing the electives, as the electives often build on the compulsory core. This means you should do the three core modules before studying one of the Contentious Skills electives, or other electives.