Agree and Close
Think the LPC is the end of your exams? Think again…
At the end of my LPC, I cheered that I never had to sit another exam again and could move straight onto my training contract and concentrate on the job.
Well, surprise! You actually have one final exam to sit during your training contract. You’ll also have to attend compulsory modules and elective courses as part of your PSC (Professional Skills Course). I had absolutely no idea I’d be back in a classroom a couple of months later when I started my training contract and if you’d told me I’d be sitting another exam on finance and business, I might have cried. So here’s a few pointers as a heads up to what will actually be your final exam and the rest of the PSC.
1. What is the PSC?
The PSC is currently a set of compulsory modules which you have to attend in order to be able to qualify at the end of your training contract. These are: client care, advocacy and finance and business skills. You must also complete a certain number of hours on elective courses, these course you will select for yourself depending on what your PSC provider has on offer. In total it should take you about 3 weeks: 2 weeks for your compulsories and another week for your electives.
2. What do you learn in the compulsory modules that’s not on the LPC?
For me, it was largely the same. My LPC modules were pretty thorough and lots of the content will be familiar if you’ve done your LPC recently. Each module adds a bit more practical thinking and goes the extra mile from your university course.
Advocacy was a lot more involved than my LPC course and focused on a full trial including giving evidence and cross examination. But the twist here is that you play multiple roles during the trial so get a good understanding of what goes into each stage. Best to get stuck in here too as you’re assessed on participation.
Finance and business skills focuses a lot more on financial investment and the best products available for your fictitious clients. It’s more about reading the situation and advising, noting procedure on company law.
3. Is the exam hard?
The exam requires good time management, you don’t have much time for what you have to answer. Our exams were open book so we had all the information we needed in front of us, it was just a case of finding the right bit!
The content of the finance and business module/exam is mixed. Some of it will be familiar, some new but straightforward and some pretty complicated. The exam will be at the end of your module so you’ll only have the two nights before to revise everything (this is a good idea and recommended!) so make sure you ask your tutor anything during the module that you’re not sure of.
So all in all, the exam is not hard but good time management is essential.
4. What can I do for my electives?
There are literally hundreds of options for elective modules with differing lengths in hours. Some are half a day, some are three day intensives. These can be anything from area based topics such as how to run a commercial litigation claim, knowing your employment rights and learning how to present an insolvency petition, to more general skills based choices such as psychological survival tips for junior lawyers (I would totally recommend this one!).
The great thing about HP is that you are able to choose your elective courses provided that it’s something the firm works in and will be beneficial to your training. So if you’re hoping to choose immigration and asylum, or cyber security, perhaps not. You have to be realistic but it doesn’t exactly restrict your choices!
The electives run throughout the year so unless you plan very carefully, you’re likely to be out an odd day here or there attending your course. It’s always worth asking the second years too as some courses are better in some locations because of a decent lunch spread…
5. Do all the trainees go to the same courses?
At HP, we did all of our compulsory modules together which was really nice as some of us work in different offices. It gave us an opportunity to catch up but also helps to know some friendly faces in the room. The compulsory classes usually have around 30 attendees, and if they’re back to back, it’s likely to be the same people in all of them.
For your electives, you pick your own individual interests so unless there’s a happy coincidence, you’re likely to be heading to your electives on your own. These are generally much smaller groups, around 10-15 people and are trainees or professionals from other firms. My experience has been that everyone is really friendly and considering you’re in a classroom, they’re actually quite fun!
I had no idea that the PSC existed until I started my training contract and told one of the second years how glad I was at having no more exams. It’s worth knowing about just to prepare yourself for the final hurdle in the classroom so you can concentrate on the job. The PSC isn’t hard, and the courses allow you to meet trainees from other firms and actually learn some interesting stuff – the finance exam just isn’t a nice surprise if you celebrated as much as I did at the end of my LPC!
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