Dec 10, 2021

Written By Luke E Reilly

PSC: what are the modules?

Dec 10, 2021

Written By Luke E Reilly

The Professional Skills Course (PSC) is the final stage of solicitor training and must be completed before you can start professional practice. The PSC course teaches you how to apply your theoretical knowledge to real-world situations and scenarios; an invaluable process in the career development of a self-reliant, modern lawyer. The PSC is broken down into a mix of core and elective modules.

Core modules

1. Advocacy and Communication Skills 

This module builds on pre-learned skills. It helps you to develop your presentation skills, as well as teaching you how to structure a logical, cogent argument and efficiently elicit information from others.

You will learn how to conduct a factual analysis of a case and develop theories as to how a client’s case should succeed. You will also be taught how to conduct chambers advocacy; understand trial advocacy; practice effective examination, cross-examination and re-examination of witnesses-in-chief; and gain skills in presenting opening and closing speeches. 

Upon completing this course, you will have reached the required ethical and legal standards to properly exercise the rights of solicitors granted to those qualified in criminal and civil courts. The module takes three days, and is assessed with an individual oral and written appraisal. You’ll develop the following Business of Law competencies as part of the module: 

Business: client relationships, commerciality 
Law: technical competence, development
Self: managing self, development 
Working with others: team-working, communication

2. Client Care and Professional Standards

This module allows you to tailor your course in accordance with your preferred career route and type of practice: either the corporate route, the commercial and private route, or the in-house lawyer’s route.

You’ll develop an understanding of professional conduct, client care and work management, as well as developing skills in ethical matters of risk management and client care. The module aims to improve students’ time management, teamwork ability, professional development and problem solving. 

Finally, the course offers a strong grounding in the details of everyday practice such as retainer, duties owed to third parties, undertakings, court fees and client care. This is a two-day module, with the days either taken together on consecutive days or individually at different times. 

In this module, you’ll develop the following Business of Law competencies:

Business: client relationships, commerciality 
Law: technical competence, development 
Self: commitment, managing self, professional responsibility, development
Working with others: team-working

3. Financial and Business Skills

This module allows you to develop your understanding of the specific statutory bases on which financial advice can be given, as well as the possible criminal or code-of-conduct sanctions that might arise from the provision of such advice.

The module takes three days to complete. The course is usually run on a Thursday, Friday and Monday. The exam is held on the Monday morning. After the exam, you’ll conclude the course by developing the appreciation of the relevance of financial interpretation to solicitors. You’ll also get an overview of the regulation of accounts. You’ll develop the following Business of Law competencies as part of the module: 

Business: commerciality
Law: technical competence, development 
Self: professional responsibility, development 
Working with others: communication 

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Electives 

On top of these three core PSC modules, the University of Law offers the following elective modules. You have to choose a total of four elective modules. This allows you to tailor your PSC to meet your specific areas of interest within law practice. Most electives last for one day. 

4. Practice-skills electives 

These modules are skills based modules which encourage you to verify the impact and influence of your practice; develop your advanced written and oral communication, presentation, persuasion and negotiation skills; verify enforceability; learn essential skills for the In-House lawyer, and expand your knowledge in relation to the Law Firm as a Commercial Enterprise. 

5. Contentious-skills electives

The contentious-skills electives are broken down into Dispute Resolution, Personal Injury, Employment Law, Criminal Law and Family Law.

Dispute Resolution electives aim to develop your case analysis and management competencies, your civil-litigation drafting skills, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or mediation ability. 

Personal Injury focuses on funding and damages, employer’s liability, investigation of a claim, and pre-action protocols and expert evidence. 

Employment Law consists of employment tribunal advocacy. There is also a two-day course in employment practice which can be done as two separate employment practice days.

Criminal Law looks at bail and mitigation and a further two-day course in criminal trial in the magistrate’s courts. 

Family Law allows you to learn about advocacy and practice in the regions of care proceedings and domestic abuse, as well as developing drafting skills for financial-order applications. There is also an elective focusing on how to interview and negotiate with clients and expanding your knowledge on The Children Act 1989. 

6. Non-contentious skills electives

This group of electives includes commercial law and intellectual property, corporate law, commercial property and private client law. 

Commercial law and intellectual property looks at crucial skills such as drafting IP licences, practical contract law, e-commerce and data protection, practical commercial contract drafting.

The Corporate Law elective provide students with an understanding of the acquisition and disposal of shares, share capital & directors’ duties, and corporate borrowing and taking security. Also covered are courses in reading a company’s accounts, insolvency, drafting, and company formation, management and share capital. 

Commercial property is another non-contentious elective. Here you can develop skills in sales and purchase transactions and in drafting commercial leases.

Finally, the private client practice elective includes wills and inheritance tax, will trusts, and tax and estate planning. 

7. Higher Rights of Audience

If you’re planning on a career in litigation, the University of Law offers the option of taking Higher Rights of Audience training in lieu of PSC electives.

You cannot appear in the Higher Courts until full qualification as a solicitor, but all training and assessment can be undertaken during the training contract. Here you would take the same programme of study as qualified solicitors.

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