Forget Glastonbury and Wimbledon, any law student will know that the real event of the summer is applying for a position on those rare gems – a training contract.
After spending years training and studying for your qualification, the training contract is what can truly cement your career in the legal industry, but the journey doesn’t end there. During your two years as a trainee solicitor, you will not only gain the lucrative hands on experience, you’ll also gain a real insight into a future career path by nailing the fundamentals of any legal career through the Professional Skills Course (PSC).
The majority of the course is prescribed although there is scope to choose at least two days of training to suit your particular learning and development needs. This “elective” element of the PSC can deliver real benefits and insights into career development and personal effectiveness. In determining what electives to take, a trainee can take one of two paths.One can lead to a more informed future by choosing relevantelectives which give skills and knowledge on which to build a successful career.The other path is simply an exercise in “box-ticking”, where the knowledge gained from the electives attended is less relevant and simply tucked away in the back of the brain, never to be used again.
As a legal training provider with over 30 years of experience, we recognise this and believe that to have the best possible future, you need to build the best possible foundation. We develop and deliver the courses to build your career foundation.
So what can you as a trainee solicitor do to make the most out of their elective choice?
1) The secret of getting ahead is getting started
It’s likely that a training contract is secured 2 years before the start date so that gives plenty of time to research the firm, what seats are available, when they will be sat and what electives will help. Whilst this may seem obvious, it’s also worth thinking about what essential and business skills might be required as these are necessary in any area of law.
2) Great things come to those who don’t wait
Once electives have been decided and researched, it shouldn’t be assumed that a place is ready and waiting. Although there are multiple dates and venues, electives wait for nobody and it can’t be taken as a given that there are still places. The only way to secure a first choice elective is to get in first.
3) Success is where preparation and opportunity meet
Although not all electives require pre-coursework, never underestimate the power of reading the course format and knowing exactly what is expected on the day of the course. Research and recognise the trainers’ experience and skills as they will be there on the day ready to answer any questions. After all, they’re experts in their field for a reason!
4) A goal without a plan is just a wish
It is all too easy to get a little complacent. In the legal industry however, there are always things to learn and build on. Lawyers are known for their drive and ambition and so the next steps in any legal career need to be planned and executed if success is to be found.
In order to reflect, identify and address learning and development needs, we recommend all lawyers complete a personal development plan. It is vital that lawyers recognise where they can improve and keep their training up to date as failing to do so will result in a substandard service and a slap on the wrist from the SRA!
The power of the PSC is in its electives. Although legal professionals and law firms can be forgiven for seeing an elective as a small fish in a big pond, they’re not just a throw-away course that should be visited once and then forgotten. Trainee Solicitors can and should use this opportunity to really find their feet in the industry and build upon skills acquired during study, making the knowledge last throughout entire careers. It’s a chance to get the broadest range of training at the earliest opportunity, something every trainee solicitor needs to experience if they are to build a prosperous future career.