How to Prepare: Non-Contentious Skills

  • Emily Buckley
  • Tuesday 07th December
  • 4 min read

If your career ambition is to work in the corporate sector of the legal world, then choosing the Non-Contentious Skills (NCS) training in place of more general practice skills electives on the Professional Skills Course (PSC) should be given serious deliberation.

Formulated and taught by experienced tutors and recognised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), this specialist coaching will enrich crucial aptitudes required for thriving in corporate law, commercial property, commercial law, intellectual property and private client roles.

So, if this sounds like the correct direction to explore in your legal journey, how can you make sure that you are suitably primed to make the most of the NCS modules?

Understand how it operates

The content of each NCS module is both presented and practised in intimately sized group workshops, consisting of six hours of training over one day. As you will need to complete four electives (regardless of whether they are NSC-specific or universal), you will be dedicating a total of four days (or 24 hours) to immersing yourself in these courses. The SRA has stated that, whilst some topics may be taught in a distance-learning setting (up to 12 hours is permissible) if there is appropriate supervision or assessment, the preference is for face-to-face classes. Do bear this in mind when considering your schedule around the time you carry out these electives.

Unlike the PSC’s core modules, the SRA does not provide a list of written standards that trainee solicitors are expected to obtain from the workshops. This is in recognition of the flexibility that some employers require to ensure that their intake of novices receive a more tailored education to better prepare them for their roles in the firm. As the content will be particularly applicable to your situation and is only covered within such a short time span of six hours, the lack of assessment should not discourage you from fully paying attention and actively participating throughout each day. It will help you in the long run!

Check for prerequisite experience

Most electives are standalone courses, enabling an easier mix-and-match process and fewer constraints to consider when timetabling your PSC route and other commitments. Some electives, like Acquisitions and Disposals of Shares or Drafting Commercial Leases, can be used as either an introductory class, a refresher or as consolidation on the topic. Others, like Private Client – Estate Planning or Private Client – Wills Trusts and Tax, build on pre-existing knowledge garnered from other electives, actual work experience or specific modules undertaken as part of the LPC. 

Be sure to check that you have the necessary understanding under your belt before selecting your desired electives.

Balance curiosity and handiness

Checking that the unit is strongly related to your future area of work – and therefore a pertinent use of your time – is an invaluable means of preparation. There should be a careful balance between what you find fascinating and what is the most beneficial investment, entailing research into the objectives of each module. 

As the corporate law track offers the most options by far, briefly outlined below are the choices to demonstrate the breadth of knowledge and skills taught:

  • Acquisitions and Disposals of Shares – this covers the bureaucratic build-up to drafting and negotiating acquisition agreements.
  • Share Capital and Directors Duties – this explores the types of shares and how to alter or transfer them, as well as the rights of shareholders and responsibilities of directors.
  • Corporate Borrowing and Taking Security – this delves into the role of banks regarding loans, the importance of debt securities for clients, and how the law shapes this area.
  • Corporate Drafting – this probes the trainee’s understanding of basic documents employed in corporate transactions to check that they can explain it clearly to clients and spot what needs amending to suit the client’s instructions.
  • Company Formation, Management and Share Capital – this encourages trainees to establish which areas of law need attention when handling certain corporate scenarios, such as a business reforming and rebranding itself as a company.
  • How to Read a Company’s Accounts – this looks into how to sufficiently scan, infer and clarify various group accounts and better appreciate accounting standards.
  • Stock Markets and Flotation – this emphasises the procedures for entering the London stock Exchange and Alternative Investment Market, how this affects clients in a practical sense, and the relevant documentation.
  • Understanding the City – this highlights the central role of London in the world of finance and fosters a better understanding of colleagues’ and clients’ issues (that work in this sector).
  • Understanding Corporate Tax Transactions – this focuses on matters like Capital Gains Tax and tax implications of purchasing and selling businesses or companies from a buyer’s and vendor’s outlook.
  • Corporate Insolvency – this concentrates on the timeline of a financially-troubled company falling into formal insolvency, and then the sale of the goods/services and other property back to its directors.

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