The Business of Law element of the Professional Skills Course (PSC) is not a distinct module, but a programme that permeates the curriculum, enabling trainee solicitors to recognise and develop the essential competencies needed to flourish in the legal world. These have been classified under the headings of Business, Law, Working with Others, and Self by the University of Law (ULaw).
At the end of the day, your law firm has to make a profit in order to continue providing its legal services. Therefore, it must ensure that you are a valuable asset who is mindful of this goal and helps their operation run smoothly. The core and elective modules offered in the PSC clearly distinguish which competencies are emphasised to reassure employers that you are the knowledgeable and worthy investment they require! Here we shall concentrate on the significance of Self.
Improving awareness of the Self
By creating a familiarity with what it takes to be self-competent in the legal sector and how this will manifest itself in practice, the PSC aids budding solicitors with the skills to work resourcefully, responsibly and with an appropriate focus on the clients without a prolonged period of metaphorical hand-holding.
The desired outcomes of the PSC are that trainees can demonstrate determination, a willingness to undertake new tasks, enthusiasm, resilience when under pressure and timeliness (to name just a few transferrable abilities).
Being able to constantly improve is another indispensable skill in the industry, so learning how to receive and act on constructive feedback will be covered, as well as the process of acknowledging your mistakes and using them as insightful career lessons.
In recognition of your relative inexperience in the sector, cultivating your professional accountability and dependability is also part and parcel of the PSC’s objective. You will become more perceptive as to how to perform work duties while adhering not only to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Codes of Conduct, which guide all solicitors in England and Wales, but also your own firm’s policies about how their employees are to conduct themselves.
Overall, highlighting self-awareness and self-improvement will give you the skill-set to be adaptable as a solicitor!
How the modules hone the Self
Referencing the three core modules will illustrate how trainees shall enhance their self-awareness, according to the SRA’s PSC Written Standards.
From the Advocacy and Communication Skills component, trainees should be able to modify their approaches for both civil and criminal cases as well as their language when communicating with different parties, such as their clients, witnesses and triers of fact and triers of law. This flexible social awareness also extends to using suitable presentation skills when opening and closing a case.
Client Care and Professional Standards covers 3 elements, each demanding different aims and objectives. The Client Care and Communication Skills portion underscores the ability to manage client expectations, handling difficult and demanding clients, foreseeing potential complaints and working to avoid them, and tackling client grievances in a fair and professional manner.
Professional Standards explicitly mentions the SRA Principles and Codes of Conduct (as mentioned above), as well as championing client confidentiality and steering clear of negligent conduct. The Work and Case Management section calls attention to time management, as well as balancing externally imposed time limits with detecting and reducing risk and considering any issues giving rise to professional liability.
After the Financial and Business Skills unit, trainees can efficiently locate appropriate sources of financial information when providing advice to private clients or businesses and recognise when other professions are more suited due to their specialist insights.
While the elective modules will be selected by your law firm, or with their input, if this is an area of your professional development that you are looking to enrich you should consider the following:
- Advanced Communication Skills – this builds on the Advocacy and Communication Skills core module with psychology and neuroscience studies, delving into emotional and social intelligence when communicating, decision-making skills and effective thinking.
- Being A Resilient Lawyer – this aids trainees in how to foster resilience and reduce work-related stress by considering what factors cause pressure in the industry and providing tips and techniques to minimise their effect.
- Coaching Skills For Lawyers – this encourages trainees to view their role as a source of support for clients, not just an advisor, meaning the Self is not put above that of the clients’ needs and a greater level of customer satisfaction is achieved.
- Impact and Influence – this explores the link between image and behaviour with success, and thus how self-awareness can make trainees more influential by forming a positive personal image, and in turn robust relationships with clients.
- The O Shaped Lawyer – this nurtures an emotionally intelligent method of working, by examining your own behavioural inclinations and how to recognise others’ preferences in order to create stronger relationships with colleagues and clients.