Professional skills course information

Issued on 8 August 2017 | Updated on 12 December 2019

Course structure, timing and background

Background

The Professional Skills Course (PSC) is designed to build on the foundations laid by the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and to make sure all trainees receive formal instruction in matters better studied once they have some exposure to practice.

The PSC is intended to be an integral part of the period of recognised training; together they form the final elements of the vocational stage of training.

PSC providers are authorised by us (authorisations made under earlier training regulations also remain valid) either on an in-house (where training firms provide it to their own trainees) or external provider. We publish a list of providers.

When the course should take place

The PSC should normally be done during a period of recognised training. Where an individual is exempt from recognised training, it must be completed before admission.

It helps develops a trainee's professional skills before admission, and we expect providers and employers to consider when each element of the course should be undertaken. For example, it will be more effective for them to complete the Client Care and Professional Standards module after a trainee has undertaken at least six months full time (or equivalent) training.

Beyond this, we do not recommend when the other elements should be completed. Although we do suggest that tuition in elective topic(s) should normally be done after the trainee has completed the relevant area of the compulsory core.

Subject to exemptions, we will not admit anyone unless they have successfully completed the PSC.

Course structure

The PSC consists of three subject areas, underpinned by Written Standards

  • Financial and Business Skills
  • Advocacy and Communication Skills
  • Client Care and Professional Standards

There is a compulsory core element of 48 hours tuition with assessments, and an elective element of 24 hours tuition.

Compulsory core

Each subject area forms part of a compulsory core, which entails face-to-face instruction for a minimum number of hours:

  • Financial and Business Skills - 18 hours
  • Advocacy and Communication Skills - 18 hours
  • Client Care and Professional Standards - 12 hours

For the purposes of Financial and Business Skills and Client Care and Professional Standards, live online interactive courses with peer to peer and candidate to tutor interaction is seen as an extension of face to face.

The assessment scheme for each part of the compulsory core is as follows:

  • Financial and Business Skills
    • Written Standards Element 1 - no assessment
    • Written Standards elements 2-6 - Examination (one-and-half hours)
  • Advocacy and Communication Skills - skills appraisal
  • Client Care and professional Standards - no assessment

All examinations and skills appraisals must be conducted face to face.

Electives

The elective element of the PSC entails a minimum total of 24 hours of instruction.

The following conditions and provisions apply:

  • a maximum total of 12 hours of instruction in elective topics (whether whole courses or part courses) may be delivered on a distance-learning basis, provided that such instruction is "suitably supervised or assessed"
  • elective topics must fall within at least one of the three subject areas of the course
  • instruction in elective topics normally will not occur before completion of the corresponding compulsory core
  • at minimum 12 hours of instruction in elective topics must be delivered on a face-to-face basis
  • all elective topics must have as their primary objective the development of a trainee's professional skills
  • there are no prescribed written standards
  • there is scope for tailoring the PSC to meet the particular training needs of individual trainees and their employers.

Courses in the following topics/subjects will count as PSC electives:

  • The shortened Accounts Course for trainees that have taken the Law Society Finals or the pre 1997 LPC.
  • The courses leading to the Higher Rights of Audience Qualification.

If there are assessments as part of these courses, they do not have to be passed in order for the exemption to be available, as the PSC electives themselves have no assessments.

Information technology, business/commercial awareness

Trainees should be able to demonstrate that they understand the importance of information technology and business/commercial awareness in their work. They should understand the applications of these across a range of professional activities.

Information technology and business/commercial awareness should be treated by PSC providers as pervasive, to be addressed throughout the compulsory core and elective topics.

PSC Written Standards

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