Pete Cowan, Trainer at Kaplan Altior, gives us a short and sweet summary of what to expect from Kaplan Altior's Professional Skills Course...
Starting a training contract can be a hectic time, full of adjustment, high expectations (from you and your firm) and trying to find your place. Add to that the SRA requirement that you must satisfactorily complete the professional skills course (PSC) and the beginning of your training contract can start to seem overwhelming. But stay calm – your training principal is hopefully there to help you with adjustments, you can manage your own expectations and you'll find your feet in the firm through your own hard work and enthusiasm.
And the PSC? Don’t worry – this brief article will explain the basics to you and help you figure out the best way to approach the course.
What is the PSC?
The Professional Skills Course (PSC) is the SRA-approved course that all trainees must complete during their training contract. The course builds on the content of the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
??How does the PSC work?
The course consists of three core modules and 24 hours of elective courses. The core modules are:
- Client Care & Professional Standards
- Advocacy & Communication Skills
- Financial & Business Skills.
In addition to the core modules, trainees choose 24 hours of electives to study. These are often offered across a broad range of skills and specialisms, though students will normally choose electives in the area of law in which they are planning to practise. 12 of the 24 elective hours have to be attended face-to-face; this can be an excellent opportunity to network with other trainees and share experiences.
The PSC is completed within your two-year training contract. Depending on how you want to study, you can condense the course into eight days to complete the core modules, plus the days on which you attend your electives. Alternatively, most providers will mix and match core modules and electives.
??How difficult is the PSC?
The PSC has only one exam, at the end of the Financial & Business Skills module. The Advocacy & Communications Skills module assessment is skills based: the trainer will look at how well you prepare during the module and your performance across the three days. This might sound daunting but in reality it isn’t and, despite people being nervous about presenting, an overwhelming number of people actually enjoy themselves and benefit from the tips and assistance given by the tutors.
Both the Client Care & Professional Standards module and the electives are assessed on satisfactory attendance.
The key thing with every element of your course is to get involved and enjoy yourself! Not only will you be learning from the trainers, but you may also be spending time with trainees from different firms and different organisations whilst on public courses. You'll be able to share your trainee experience with each other and learn from that.
?Who pays for the PSC?
The SRA website explains that your firm must pay for the PSC and give you paid time off to attend the course as well as pay reasonable travel expenses. Depending on the way your firm’s training programmes are structured, you may get involved in selecting your PSC provider. It's always worth trying to minimise travel and accommodation costs by trying to find courses that are local to you.
Will I like the course?
There's no real reason why you shouldn't! In many ways, the PSC is what you make of it – if you turn up with enthusiasm and join in, there's a lot to learn. It's also a good idea to try and do as much of the PSC as early as you can in your training contract. That way you get to put what you learn into practice earlier on, and you can avoid the stress of trying to look for suitable courses and electives right at the end of your training contract!
How do I apply?
If you would like to talk about your PSC options, contact Kaplan Altior’s friendly team on 029 2045 1000. Ask for Matt Locke, Jenna Williams or Kelly Morris and they will be happy to guide you through all your options.