May 10, 2019

Written By Jan Hill

PSC: a basic overview

May 10, 2019

Written By Jan Hill

What is the PSC? at what point will you encounter it? What does it cover? If you're not sure where to start when it comes to this last legal course before qualification, we're on hand to help you out. 

What is the PSC?

The Professional Skills Course (PSC) for trainee solicitors is the final required portion of training prior to qualification as a solicitor in the UK. The University of Law is one of the UK’s authorised PSC providers and the exclusive provider to top law firms, with a programme that promises to be “directly relevant to life in practice”. 

The UoL PSC training is delivered via face-to-face small group workshops, aimed exclusively at trainees. Undertaken during the two-year training contract, the PSC can only be taken once the Legal Practice Course, or an integrated course, has been successfully completed.

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Why is the PSC necessary?

The PSC is mandatory for those training to become solicitors. It prepares trainees for practice by allowing them to relate skills being learned in the classroom to key competencies trainees need to smoothly progress in the legal world. It also provides career development for independent, contemporary solicitors throughout the UK. Subject to exemption, individuals will usually not be admitted unless they have successfully completed the PSC. 

What does the PSC cover?

The PSC is made up of three compulsory core modules and four days of elective module training in areas of interest for a total of 12 days (72 hours of training). The core modules cover key areas of practice, including: 

• Advocacy and Communication Skills, which prepares trainees to make a presentation, build a logical and persuasive argument, and efficiently obtain information. This module also offers training in conducing a factual analysis of a case, developing theories of success, conducting chambers advocacy, trial support and ethical and procedural standards.

• Client Care and Professional Standards, which offers a choice of career routes—corporate, commercial and private, legal aid and the in-house lawyers track. This module is offered as two separate days of training and helps trainees understand and meet expectations regarding professional conduct, client care and work management.

• Financial and Business Skills, which examines the statutory basis upon which financial advice can be provided, the potential criminal sanctions related to giving such advice, and the application of sound financial and business principles. After completion of this, trainees should have improved financial awareness and be able to apply the rules of professional conduct relating to financial and accounting matters. 

The PSC also includes four days of elective module training (24 hours) in the following areas of interest: 

• Practice skills electives that explore impact and influence, advanced written communication, advanced communication skills, effective written communication, enforceability, presentation and persuasion skills, negotiation, the commercial enterprise and essential skills for the in-house solicitor.

• Contentious skills electives focusing on dispute resolution, personal injury, employment law, criminal law and family law.

• Non-contentious skills electives in topics such as commercial law, intellectual property, corporate law, commercial property and private clients.

• Higher Rights of Audience, which is offered in lieu of other PSC electives specifically for lawyers planning a career in litigation. 

How does the PSC fit into the training contract? 

The PSC was introduced in 1994 to expand on the foundation set by the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and to guarantee that all trainees receive recognised education in areas best covered after the trainee has been exposed to legal practice. The PSC is also intended to be a critical part of the period of recognised training for solicitors and develops a trainee’s professional abilities before they are admitted. 

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulates the PSC course and authorises PSC providers under the SRA Training Regulations 2014, either on an in-house or external basis. The SRA recommends that the PSC be taken during a period of recognised training and that modules be completed after a trainee has commenced at least six months of full-time equivalent training. Regarding electives, the SRA advises that these topics be studied after the trainee has completed the relevant area of the compulsory core.

It is up to the delegate to decide exactly how they fit their PSC course dates across their training contract, but the University of Law does offer the PSC all year around.

Who pays for the PSC? 

According to the SRA’s 2014 regulations, the training provider will provide funding for your first attempt at the PSC, as well as paying for any expenses incurred. If you’ve recently had to self-fund the LPC or GDL, this will come as great news! pa

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