The Professional Skills Course (PSC) is compulsory in your journey to qualify as a solicitor, so some thought needs to be given to how it will be paid for. To fully capitalise on the course’s benefits, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) suggests the PSC is completed during a period of recognised training, meaning that having access to funds by specific dates is key.
Although you will be studying the art of legal practice, Student Finance is not available for the PSC. However, there are a handful of options to consider.
Law firm or organisation financial support
You know first-hand that law is not the cheapest of career choices. While the payoff will be worth it, there is undoubtedly a considerable outlay required before becoming a registered solicitor. Therefore, you will be very pleased to hear that if this is your first time encountering the PSC – regardless of whether you are training in a private practice or an in-house role – your funding is actually covered by your employer.
The SRA has established in Regulation 3.1(b) of the SRA Education, Training and Assessment Provider Regulations 2019 that training providers are obligated to pay for their trainees’ initial attempt. This was justified because the PSC is a required programme for aspiring solicitors in England and Wales to undertake and, unless you fall under one of the limited exemptions listed on their website, the SRA will not admit you without having passed it. It would be quite disheartening to dangle the carrot of qualification over your head whilst making you pay to obtain it!
Additionally, Regulation 3.1(b) states that training providers are also to cover expenses encountered during the PSC, meaning you should not be out of pocket for the 12 days (or 72 hours) of obligatory tuition. So rather than worrying about how you will scrape together the cash to afford the course and travel – for instance, if it is carried out on a University of Law (ULaw) campus rather than in your office – you can use that energy to focus on passing the course with flying colours.
Having said this, if you did not pass the PSC first-time around and now need to self-fund, there is still a deal to be had. If you have previously studied at ULaw, you are entitled to a 10% discount on all PSC modules thanks to their Alumni Loyalty Scheme.
When booking your place on the course, you need to disclose your eligibility for this concession. There is a 14-day window from the date of booking to confirm this, but your discount will be rejected if you miss this deadline. To play it safe and guarantee that you benefit from the price reduction, ensure that you have your Student Number or ULaw email address to hand to verify that you are eligible for the money off when making the booking.
Don’t think that your bank balance can stretch that far even with a 10% discount? Or perhaps you are not an alumnus? In this case, it could be worth exploring a postgraduate bank loan.
Although the UK economy is in a bit of a precarious state at the moment, lenders will still lend if they judge you to be a “safe bet”: a solicitor would surely come under this heading! While individual high-street banks will have their own criteria when examining your case, they will consider factors like the quality of the course, the course’s duration, and your future employability and credit score. The PSC will likely be viewed as a means to enhance your earnings as it is a stepping stone to qualifying.
It is vital to remember that lenders will be aiming to create profits from the interest on your loan, but in the grand scheme of things this may turn out to be a small price to pay. Future Finance, for example, offers loans from £2,000 to £60,000 for law students and have expressed on their website that there are no early repayment fees if you pay the loan off early. Of course, make sure you have done your research on the particular loan you are looking into and that you are aware of how this will impact your finances moving forward.