We have all been on some unsatisfactory but pricey training courses. The test of a course’s merit is often measured by when you start planning to leave. If, during the first session, you think of the early train you need to catch, it is a sign that you are not committed.
While training for lawyers is expensive and time-consuming, it is essential that we are up to date in our chosen field, have the requisite skills and an understanding of professional rules. As Melissa Hardee’s book tells us, training needs to be planned, budgeted for, and appraised.
However, compulsory training for qualified solicitors is a very recent concept. It was introduced gradually, starting with newly qualified solicitors in 1992, and then extended to the whole profession in 1998.
By contrast, before the 1840s, no compulsory training was needed to enter the profession. Articled clerks who had served their time would be interviewed by a judge who collected a fee. The interview was usually cursory. Until recently, the standard route to qualification for most solicitors was five years’ articles. That was only abolished in 1994, with increasing numbers of students completing law degrees; though for those unable or unwilling to go to university, the introduction of apprenticeships was a welcome new route.
Author: Melissa Hardee
£99.95, Law Society
To qualify as a lawyer of any type, however, is complex: seven different legal professions are referred to in this book, each with their own rules. Students leaving colleges have high expectations after borrowing a small fortune to start their career. During the academic phase, they can study a wider range of subjects than they are likely to encounter in the profession. Some students, though, lack an understanding of the basics.
Well-written and thorough examination of the profession’s training needs makes a strong business case that training is an investment. There are sections on the importance of training, how to qualify as a solicitor, and a look at other legal professions. I was interested in the ‘How to’ areas, which cover what to do if: a trainer does not turn up; delegates are not interested; the IT does not work; and evaluating training. The recently introduced concept of continuing competence, which replaced CPD, is also explained in depth.
Arguably, though it is out of the scope of this book, training also includes internships, work experience and work shadowing.
David Pickup is a partner at Pickup and Scott Solicitors, Aylesbury