PSC Business of Law: what is it?
If you do your Professional Skills Course (PSC) with the University of Law (the main provider of the PSC to the top law firms), you may hear about the Business of Law programme. Here, we explain a little bit more what Business of Law is.
Rather than being a course in its own right, the Business of Law programme is a key set of competencies that are taught and tested as part of the PSC.
The University of Law has grouped these competencies together, so that you and your employer can keep track of how you’re getting on. These competencies are broken into four areas—Business, Law, Self and Working with Others. These are clearly identified in all PSC modules, both core and elective, so that you and your firm can easily see which essential competencies will be taken back to the work place.”
So there’s nothing scary about the Business of Law… in fact, it’s a great way for you and your firm to keep track of where you’re up to, and understand where you might need to improve.
Business of Law: what competencies will I gain?
As your expertise in business starts to grow, you’ll realise exactly why law firms, graduate recruiters and AllAboutLaw have been going on about commercial awareness for the past few years. Now you’ve started your training contract, you’ll really start to use it.
As part of the University of Law’s PSC training, you’ll consolidate your knowledge on business development. By the end of it, you’ll show awareness of market and competitor activity, as well as being able to understand your firm’s business-development strategy and assist with it when required. You’ll ultimately be aware of the skills and techniques required to ensure that your firm is a key developing business within the legal market.
Of course, none of this is possible without good client relationships. Your University of Law PSC will get you up-to-speed on what clients expect from legal services, ensuring you meet the expectations according to your trainee role in all client contact, and even develop a rapport with those on your level in client teams. Ultimately, lawyers will encounter people from a wide variety of cultures, companies and countries: now is the time to ensure you’re clued-up, respectful and able to meet their needs.
The final business competency you’ll gain as part of your training contract and PSC will be commerciality. You’ll come away understanding what services your firm provides. Commercial awareness, unsurprisingly, crops up again: you’ll understand the commercial environment in which clients sit, as well as any multicultural issues or business practices, and will learn to tailor your advice to all of these. You’ll also develop some crucial technical competencies: how to deliver a work product that’s commercially and technically sound; become proficient at meeting client deadlines; manage your own work in progress and be able to record your chargeable time with accuracy.
Even after an undergraduate degree or conversion course, there are always things to be learned about the law. This competency is obviously vital: you’ll learn how to research like a lawyer (rather than a sleep-deprived student straining against a deadline) and will get to grips with the appropriate technology and information. You’ll learn how to manage your own fee-earning matters, while still knowing your limits: as a trainee, there’s only so much you can do, and there will always be someone to give the correct advice if you’re unable to do so.
After learning law in an academic context, the University of Law PSC will test your ability to solve problems using what you already know. You’ll develop your professional skills and technical ability, and ultimately will take responsibility for your own learning and development, keeping up-to-date with any new legal issues.
In developing self-competency needed for law, you’ll show commitment by delivering work products with enthusiasm, whether it’s the most interesting thing you’ve worked on, or the least. You’ll show determination, take ownership, and be willing to take on new tasks if needs be. You’ll also be a competent self-manager, who is resilient under pressure, organised, self-aware and reflective.
The PSC also looks to develop your professional responsibility. You’ll show awareness of professional-conduct responsibilities under Code of Conduct, and adhere to all of your firm’s policies. Finally, the PSC feeds into your development, so that you’re equipped to learn from your mistakes, develop new skills and capabilities, and receive constructive feedback and advice.
Working with others
However small your firm or intimate the department you want to specialise in, you’re going to have to work with others sooner or later as a lawyer. This competency is stretched on the PSC, so that by the end you’ll come away with the know-how on building professional relationships. You’ll be a team member who contributes in whatever capacity you can, communicating with everyone efficiently and respectfully.
Of course, a huge part of this is communication. Both your oral and written communication will be built on the PSC. You’ll also learn how to tailor your communications to the needs of the recipient.