The Professional Skills Course consists of three core modules, compulsory for all trainee solicitors to complete, as well as four additional electives, which can vary between each provider.
The core modules will account for 48 out of the 72 hours’ worth of training offered on the course, and are generally completed in the first eight days of a 12-day intensive course, unless you decide to take them individually at different times.
Making up the three obligatory components of the PSC are the following modules:
- Financial and Business Skills,
- Advocacy and Communication Skills,
- Client Care and Professional Standards.
Financial and Business Skills
This module is taken over three days of lessons, totalling 18 hours’ worth of training, and focuses on regulations related to financial advice and activities, such as solicitors accounts. It looks at the legal repercussions that these can have as well as the SRA regulations with regards to them. It is made up of six elements, namely the following:
- Accounting and financial issues,
- Introduction to the marketplace,
- The regulatory framework,
- The scope rules,
- Money laundering,
- Mortgage fraud.
It will then culminate in a 90-minute exam, testing elements 2-6, on the third day of the course.
Advocacy and Communication Skills
The same number of hours will be dedicated to this module, which will also be spread out over three days. It will look to develop your ability to construct and present convincing arguments, as well as analysing individual cases and elaborating ideas concerning whether the client’s case could succeed.
You’ll also be led to understand the specifics of trial advocacy as well as practical skills such as cross-examination and giving opening and closing speeches. It will be assessed through a written and oral appraisal, rather than a formal exam.
Client Care and Professional Standards
Unlike the previous two modules, you’ll only spend two days - or twelve hours - studying this component of the course, and there won’t be any form assessment for it. The University of Law offers three different career routes for this component of the course, depending on your professional interests - a Corporate route, Commercial and Private route, and an In-house Lawyer route.
Although it’s not a strict rule, the Solicitors Regulation Authority recommends that you take this course six months after starting your training contract. You’ll be taking a closer look at the professional ethics needed to be a solicitor, as well as developing personal skills such as time management and the ability to work effectively with clients.