Enhancing professional development with PSC electives

As well as being a highly competitive industry, a lot of the work that solicitors carry out in the legal sector requires discipline-specific knowledge and as a whole, this is a job which can prove highly emotive. As a trainee, you’ll be looking to find your feet, understand what your professional style will be and what your practising specialisms will be. As well as being a necessary part of the Professional Skills Course (PSC), your PSC electives can help you to find solutions to these unanswered questions and get your foot on the professional ladder. For our blog this week, we’re discussing how these electives can help to enhance legal skills, leaving trainees with a lasting impact and learnings with longevity.

Understand your strengths
In order to choose the one specific area of law in which you wish to practice, you need to have a level of self awareness to understand your true strengths and capabilities. According to Forbes, only 10-15% of people are self-aware for three reasons: we have blind spots, we’re wired to operate on autopilot and we like to see ourselves in a positive light. Your PSC electives can prove most helpful in improving your self-awareness, by giving you experience and knowledge of certain specialisms which you might not otherwise have had. Each practice specialism will require different skills from its lawyers so whether you want to practice law in personal injury, employment law, family law or any other practice area, elective options will provide you with an initial guide, allowing you to understand if this is an area of strength or weakness for you, whilst developing your legal skills at the same time. Another little tip is to talk to your colleagues and peers to hear what they think you excel at.

Improve your communication abilities
Much of legal training is fuelled by exams and academic learning, focusing on key facts and details to help prepare you for life in the legal industry. However, what about personal skills such as communication – do they fall to the wayside during this time? In 2016, Inc reported that 73.4% of employers stated that they want candidates with strong written communication skills, with 75% of them wanting more of a focus on this at college level. However, face-to-face communication remains key, with the Harvard Business Review stating that in-person requests are 34 times more successful than sending an email. Regardless of how you wish to communicate during your career, elective modules such as Business Development and Networking Skills, Negotiation Skills for Lawyers or Dealing with Difficult People can all prove helpful for developing these essential skills in the legal sector.

Set yourself apart
You’ve passed all of your exams so far with flying colours and have secured a training contract, but what next? Have you thought about what makes you different from others on your course or how you’ll secure a full time position in a firm post-training? When it comes to securing a job, the Guardian claims that enthusiasm and focus are two key attributes needed to enhance your professional standing across any industry. This thinking can be applied to your approach to elective modules. Choosing modules that will help you to excel later on in your career, like a Higher Rights of Audience (HRA) elective can help to set you apart from other candidates. For example, choosing a specific HRA course as your elective option will set you further along your career path by allowing you to  to practice advocacy in higher courts, becoming one of  only 6,880 solicitors in the UK are currently accredited to do so.. Therefore, not only can you enhance your skills but you can differentiate yourself from your competition.

Elective modules are of course a required part of a PSC course as trainees will need to complete 24-hours of electives, with at least 12 of these hours completed through face-to-face learning. However, they shouldn’t be treated as a burden or a last-minute consideration. If chosen carefully, they can prove crucial to enhancing skills in the legal sector, which can be even more beneficial if undertaken at an early stage of a training contract. For more information about our upcoming elective modules or to book your place, contact us on 02920 451 000 or email us at

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