May 10, 2019

Written By Jan Hill

PSC: picking your electives

May 10, 2019

Written By Jan Hill

When it comes to your PSC, you have a choice of over 40 electives. You are able to pick whatever electives you like regardless of which campus they are at, whether they are 1 day or 2 day courses or whether they are contentious or non-contentious subjects. As long as they add up to 24 hours then this is acceptable.

The Professional Skills Course (PSC) for trainee solicitors at University of Law includes four days of elective module training (24 hours) in the following elective areas:

• Practice skills. These electives are designed to maximise employability in a competitive environment where a training contract is no guarantee.

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

• Non-contentious skills. These delve into commercial law, intellectual property, corporate law, commercial property and private client topics.

• Higher Rights of Audience. This module is offered specifically for lawyers who are planning a career in litigation. 

Solicitors who know in advance in what area of law they wish to practise can benefit from picking the right PSC electives that will increase their knowledge in their chosen area as well as enhance their employment potential. 

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Picking practice-skills electives

These training modules examine how image and behaviour affect success, how to create positive relationships with clients and colleagues, develop self-awareness and influencing skills, and how effective communication skills enhance teamwork and improve working relationships. 

Delegates who have already completed a foundation course in effective written communication might consider the Advanced Written Communication elective, which offers the opportunity to move beyond the basics and practice the craft of writing. Those leaning towards a specialty in business or contract law often elect the “Is it Enforceable?” course that deals with all the issues to be addressed whenever parties consider entering into a legal contract.

Picking contentious-skills electives 

Trainees considering careers in civil or criminal litigation, personal injury, employment law, family law or dispute resolution can benefit greatly from picking contentious-skills electives. These courses demonstrate how to manage litigation (rather than be managed by it), how to formulate a dispute-resolution strategy, and provide information about effective case-management skills.

Trainees have the ability to choose from one-day contentious-skills courses in the funding and damages aspects of personal injury, the key elements of employers’ liability law, how to investigate a claim, employment-tribunal advocacy, and how to apply for and oppose bail. Two-day courses are available for those interested in advocating for either the prosecution or a defendant in the Magistrates’ Court, as well as an overview of employment law rights, claims and issues encountered by employers, employees and legal advisers.

Picking non-contentious skills electives 

Trainees seriously considering a specialism in intellectual property or commercial law often pick non-contentious skills electives, which provide them with a solid background in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions, drafting IP agreements and commercial documents and corporate law.

Those with an interest in corporate law can learn about the reasons for corporate borrowing, the various structures and types of bank loans, the documents that are commonly used in corporate transactions, and how to read, interpret and explain different corporate group accounts. Three private-client electives—Wills and Inheritance Tax, Wills Trusts and Tax, and Estate Planning—give a solid background of the practice of the private-client department of a solicitor’s firm.

Choosing to do the Higher Rights of Audience training 

If a trainee is planning a career in litigation, the trainee has the option to pick the Higher Rights of Audience training in lieu of the PSC electives. Although a trainee cannot appear in the Higher Courts until fully qualified as a solicitor, all training and assessment can be taken during the training contract, and trainees undergo the same programme of study as qualified solicitors.

Acquiring the skills to advocate for clients in the Higher Courts of England and Wales can be a clear benefit to a solicitor’s career. In addition to providing the knowledge necessary to advocate for clients, Higher Rights of Audience training can enhance professional status as well as increase earning potential. This practical programme is directly applicable to the duties a litigator will perform in the workplace.

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