Simon Coath Consultancy

In-House PSC: Client Care & Professional Standards

Our approach to the Client Care and Professional Standards Core is again designed to further our objectives of making the training relevant and of practical interest to the trainees.

Our course is divided into two one-day sessions:

Day One - Client Care and self-management issues

The Client Care issues include the importance of communications and managing clients expectations effectively.

This is achieved by focussing upon manifestations of the more common communication problems between solicitor and client. Rather than simply lecturing on these issues, the workshops are run so as to ensure that trainees discover and are able to articulate the problem areas themselves.

To facilitate this outcome, we use a case study and or video that lends itself to critical analysis. Trainees are provided with a hypothetical pretext within which they are to analysis performance and come to conclusions and or make recommendations.

Our approach facilitates effective "tie in" with the firm's intended PSC Elective programme. For example, a problem that had become apparent during the workshop might be highlighted as one that was to be returned to later in the training programme. It follows that we find it helpful if firms describe to us what elective content is likely to follow our course.

Topics covered include:

  • Supervision and the management of risk. This would be relevant to a number of the standards that relate to risk management e.g. Undertakings, as well as those that deal with communication aspects e.g. keeping client informed.
  • Typical client protocols included in a firm's quality management system e.g. complaints procedures.
  • Retainer letters.
  • Cost issues and management.
  • Case file Management.

The latter part of the first day course concerns itself with "Self-Management".

Trainees will realise at this stage that some of the main problems identified relate not to ignorance of the law but to personal failings in straightforward matters such as communication e.g. failure to listen, and personal organisation e.g. failure to diarise and or work effectively.

This session would therefore cover what the Law Society refers to as "time management".

Topics covered will emphasise that solicitor's deal in the "commodity" of time and that "time" translates into income. Trainees will be shown ways to maximise their effectiveness by doing client's work more efficiently within the time that is available. Such an objective translates into happier clients and higher revenue. They will also recognise that becoming more effective is about self-management and ongoing development.

Day 2 - Professional Standards

As the Law Society are currently working on a re-write of the existing ethical rules, regulations, and principles contained within "The Guide to the Professional Conduct of Solicitors" we do not spend long going over detail which shall shortly be superseded.

Instead we spend time looking at some of the contextual issues that have a bearing upon how "conduct" is likely to have a bearing on solicitors practice in the future.

A theme of the day is "change" and its effect upon the profession. Issues such as International practice are looked at as well as the role of the Law Society as regulator. Trainees leave the workshop in a position to reflect upon the changing nature of practice and some of the contingencies that are likely to shape its future.

Some of the questions that trainees will address on this day are as follows:

  • What are the underlying problems that require regulation?
  • Why do they exist?
  • Does regulation help contain the problems?
  • Why does the Law Society regulate?
  • Who should regulate?
  • What is the role of market forces?
  • Are solicitors business people providing a legal service?
  • Is there a "de-professionalism" taking place within the profession?
  • What are the responsibilities of the "profession" to manage "change"?
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