If you choose to study the Professional Skills Course (PSC) at The University of Law, you will have a choice of more than 40 electives. In this article, we will look at how to prepare for the Practice 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 elective 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 core 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 Practice Skills electives?
The University of Law offers 17 electives under the Practice Skills category. These modules range from Coaching Skills for Lawyers and Consultancy Skills for Lawyers through to The Law Firm as a Commercial Enterprise and Legal Technology – AI/Blockchain.
The focus of the Practice Skills electives is to equip trainees with key competencies and knowledge which are integral to being a successful solicitor.
The modules offer individuals an opportunity to hone it on a particular skill which they wish to improve, including communication, coaching, consultancy, research, negotiation, and problem-solving skills.
The Practice Skills electives also offer delegates the opportunity to examine how disruptive technologies are impacting the legal sector, including the automation of professional skills and the growth of artificial intelligence and blockchain.
How to prepare for the Practice Skills electives
All of the Practice Skills modules are one-day courses and do not involve any formal assessments. The only assessments you must pass as part of the PSC are the core module assessments. This means that The University of Law does not require you to do any advance preparation for the Practice 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 in 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.
Trainees whose commercial awareness is lacking, for example, may consider studying the Consultancy Skills for Lawyers module — which looks at how to analyse a client’s business — or The Law Firm as a Commercial Enterprise module — which focuses on the law firm as a business.
On the other hand, trainees wishing to develop their communication skills may consider the Advanced Communication Skills module — which builds on the Advocacy and Communication Skills core module — or the Effective Written Communication module — which examines the principles of effective and accurate writing.
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 Practice Skills electives, or other electives.