pass the LPC and also prove they have the necessary skills to become a solicitor through work experience in other, non-solicitor legal roles – most obviously as a paralegal. Professional Skills Course You cannot qualify as a solicitor without passing the Professional Skills Course (PSC). This is a modular course which aims to ensure that you have reached the appropriate level of skills and knowledge during the LPC and the training contract. Firms must pay for their trainees to attend the PSC. The three core modules are: • financial and business skills; • advocacy and communication skills; and • client care and professional standards. There is a written exam for the financial and business skills module, but no formal assessment of the others. You will also need to complete 24 hours’ worth of elective modules. If it is taken full time, the PSC will last up to 12 days. However, each module can be taken individually. Many of the larger firms run the PSC in house as part of their ongoing training programmes. Non-graduates Non-graduates can qualify as a solicitor by way of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), which involves completing several years’ qualifying employment (usually in a law firm), passing specific CILEx exams to qualify first as a member, then as a fellow, and then applying to the SRA to be considered exempt from some of its qualification requirements. For more on CILEx, see “Alternative careers” and the CILEx chapter on p133.
contract seat. In this way trainees receive good feedback about their performance both during and after a seat, and get to have their say about anything they’re not 100% happy with. You ought to be treated sympathetically in all your seats and should never feel as though you’re being given more responsibility than you can handle. Nobody will expect you to know everything from day one of your training contract; indeed, some firms dedicate the first few weeks to induction lectures and presentations to get you up to speed with the firm, its clients and its different practice areas. Most of your work will involve drafting, writing and researching, with everything being checked by a qualified solicitor and your supervision overseen by a partner (many trainees share an office with their supervisor during their seats). Other training opportunities exist with the Crown Prosecution Service and within the government, and with some companies outside private practice in commerce and industry (see “Alternative careers”). LPC electives Most trainees have completed the LPC by the time they start their training contracts. But trainees who have completed only Stage One (the core modules) of the LPC will also need to complete Stage Two (the elective modules) during their trainingcontract. Somepostgraduate course providers now offer different ways of doing this, fromflexible tutor time (weekends and evening classes) to online tutorials. Equivalent means In some circumstances it is possible to qualify as a solicitor without having done a training contract. Instead, the individual is required to
Reality check: Remember that althoughmost firms currently use the four-seat training contract model described here, this could change over the coming years – some also run training on a non-rotational basis. A smaller number of firms also choose to operate a six-seat training system, exposing trainees to awider variety of practice areas.
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