Authorised Training Provider information pack

Updated 12 December 2016

 

Information for organisations employing trainees.

Status of this document

This is a guide to the regulatory requirements contained within the SRA Training Regulations 2014, which form part of the SRA Handbook. It contains non-mandatory guidance we believe may be of use to training providers, and where regulatory requirements are repeated we will link to the relevant Training Regulation.

If you are or intend to become an authorised training provider, you must comply with the relevant regulations – so while this information pack sets out some key requirements, there is no substitute for reading the regulations and becoming familiar with them.

If you are a currently an authorised training provider with trainees who commenced their training contracts on or before 30 June 2014, you should refer to the Training Regulations 2011. However, if you and the trainee agree to adopt the new Training Regulations 2014 you should notify us on the Transition from 2011 to 2014 form (PDF 3 pages, 220K) in line with regulation 21.3 of the Training Regulations 2014. Any training commencing on or after 1 July 2014 will be governed by the Training Regulations 2014.

The purpose of traineeships

Any organisation which wants to take on and train a trainee solicitor needs to be authorised by us first.

Traineeships are intended to give individuals supervised experience in legal practice through which they can refine and develop their professional skills. It is the final stage of the process of qualification as a solicitor. Trainee solicitors gain practical experience in a legal environment such as a solicitor's firm, a local authority or an in-house legal department.

Training future solicitors can be rewarding, generating long-term benefits for your organisation and the profession. But it takes time and resources to provide adequate training. If you are thinking of employing trainees, you should be sure that your organisation is able to provide the breadth of experience and supervision they need.

Key requirements

We require that trainees must:

  1. be paid at least the prescribed minimum salary (from 1 August 2014, this becomes the normal rate of the National Minimum Wage) – regulation 10.2(f).
  2. gain practical experience in at least three distinct areas of English and Welsh law and practice – regulation 12.1(b). If your organisation cannot offer this range of experience, you may arrange for a secondment for the trainee to gain the relevant experience – regulation 12.2
  3. be given opportunities to develop the skills they will need in practice, including opportunities to develop their skills in the contentious and non-contentious work needed to meet the Practice Skills Standardsregulation 12.1(a)
  4. maintain a training record (PDF 2 pages, 59K)regulation 14 – linking the experience they have gained to the skills they have developed, and documenting their reflection on their learning. The supervisor must verify the record (regulation 14.1(d))
  5. be closely supervised by qualified solicitors or others with the appropriate experience in English and Welsh law and practice – regulation 12.1(a)
  6. receive regular feedback and appraisals throughout their training – regulation 12.1(d). Good practice suggests that at least three formal appraisals during the training period are appropriate, and you can also carry out as many informal review meetings as you and the trainee need to enable a constructive training experience
  7. successfully complete the Professional Skills Course. You must pay the Professional Skills Course fees and any related expenses – regulation 10.2(e).

Once your organisation is authorised, you can employ as many trainees as you feel are appropriate, provided that you can meet the requirements of the regulations. Your organisation may also be monitored by us to ensure that the training it provides is of an appropriate quality and standard.

The training principal

Your organisation must nominate a training principal as required by regulation 10.2(b), who agrees to take a central role in training provision. Regulation 13 sets out the requirements for that role. Training principals must:

  • be a solicitor of England and Wales with a current practising certificate or a practising barrister
  • be nominated by the training establishment and be competent for this role
  • ensure that the training provided meets the requirements of regulation 12
  • ensure the trainee keeps a record of training
  • ensure that anyone involved in the training and supervision of trainees has adequate legal knowledge and experience in the area they are supervising and has the skills to provide effective supervision
  • certify to us that the trainee has completed the required training.

If you are exempt from holding a practising certificate under Section 88 of the Solicitors Act, this exemption also applies to the requirement to hold a practising certificate under the Training Regulations 13.1(a)

The training principal can delegate these responsibilities to others; if so, the trainee should be informed.

In order to meet 3 above, the training principal will need to fully understand the training requirements in the SRA Training Regulations 2014. The training principal is our main liaison about the establishment's trainees, and should advise us of any changes relevant to training. If the training principal changes, regulation 12.4 requires the organisation to notify us.

The training principal should be aware that all trainees are required to obtain a satisfactory criminal record check (standard disclosure) before admission. A DBS standard disclosure includes details of any current and spent convictions, police cautions, reprimands and final warnings held on the Police National Computer, except those filtered-out by virtue of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions Order). We also require all students to disclose any character and suitability issues to us before they commence training. They are not eligible to commence training until we have assessed the issue that they have disclosed to us.

We may also make use of, or require individuals to provide, overseas criminal records information whenever appropriate. The trainee – not the provider or training principal – is responsible for applying for the required DBS standard disclosure.

We send trainee solicitors DBS check forms and guidance approximately 12 weeks before the scheduled end of their training period. Regulation 12.5 requires the training provider to certify that there are no issues which may affect the trainee's character and suitability, and this is usually done by the training principal.

Becoming authorised

You can only provide training to trainee solicitors after your organisation has been authorised as a training provider.

If you wish to make an application for your firm to become an authorised training provider, you should complete and return (with the authorisation fee) a Training Provider Application (PRT1) (PDF 5 pages, 247K).

Authorisation lasts for the lifetime of the organisation. However, we retain the right to apply conditions to any approval and, if we have serious concerns about the quality of training being provided, revoke authorisation altogether.

Recruiting trainees

Recruiting the best trainees for your organisation is essential, and operating good recruitment processes will help you achieve this. When recruiting trainee solicitors you should adopt practices and procedures that adhere to the requirement of the Code of Conduct.

Length of the training period

As required by regulation 5.2, the total length of time spent training depends on the usual number of days worked each week (not including overtime or weekend work). A full-time training period, in which the trainee works five days per week, is for two years (730 calendar days, or 522 working days). So, as a guide, if the trainee works

  • two and a half days per week, the period is four years (1,460 calendar days)
  • three days per week, the period is three years and four months (1,216 calendar days)
  • four days per week, the period is two years and six months (913 calendar days)

Trainees may also train while they study the Qualifying Law Degree, Common Professional Examination, or Legal Practice Course. If the trainee is working part time while they study, the same pro rata arrangements as above should be entered into.

Offering a training position

The training regulations do not prescribe how offers of training are made, but it is good practice to send a successful candidate a letter of offer as soon as possible following your decision.

Prospective trainees need to certify to us that they have no character and suitability issues before commencing training (regulation 6.1). If they have such issues, like criminal convictions or financial problems, they must disclose them to us for consideration before they can commence training.

Employing trainee solicitors

Entering into a training agreement

Employment law requires you to provide the trainee with a statement of the terms and conditions of employment when they start work, or shortly afterwards. Periods of recognised training are viewed as apprenticeships in the eyes of the law. As an apprentice, the trainee has enhanced protections which mean that you can terminate the contract of apprenticeship early only where there is serious misconduct, the trainee is so incapacitated that they are incapable of being trained, or where the business has closed or fundamentally changed. Additionally, were you to unfairly dismiss the trainee, compensation can reflect loss of earnings and the loss of prospects attaching to the qualified position to which the apprenticeship ultimately leads.

The statement should state normal terms and conditions like place of work, hours, and starting salary, supervisory arrangements, but it should also state the length of training, and the learning elements.

The vast majority of periods of recognised training go smoothly. However, it is important to know that at all times the training will be subject to our training regulations, and if your organisation breaches the requirements of those regulations, the trainee can report the matter to us. Please also be aware that an apprentice, in the eyes of the law, has recourse to the courts.

Before the trainee starts at your organisation, they will need to confirm to us that there are no character and suitability issues which require our consideration (regulation 6). Or, if there are issues, they must disclose them to us so we can decide whether they are eligible or not, by reference to the Suitability Test.

The trainee will be required to complete form 'Eligibility to Commence a period of recognised Training'. If he or she has disclosed issues relating to character and suitability which require assessment they are not eligible to commence training until we have assessed their character and suitability. It may take us up to six months to complete an assessment. During this period of assessment the trainee is not eligible to commence a period of training.

Recognising experience gained before training starts

Some trainees may have worked in a legal environment and gained equivalent experience before starting training. Your organisation can, at its discretion, recognise relevant prior experience and take this time into account to reduce the period of training – Regulation 12.3. This is known as 'relevant work-based experience'.

Regulation 12.3 allows you to recognise relevant work-based experience on a like-for-like basis up to a maximum of six months (183 calendar days). Part-time experience is calculated pro rata; for example a trainee who worked two and a half days per week for six months may be awarded a three month reduction to their training period.

It is entirely at your discretion whether to grant reductions in training periods. You can notify us, in writing, of any reductions that you have granted when you notify us that a period of recognised training has commenced or subsequently at any time prior to the completion of training, and pre-admission.

When considering whether to recognise previous experience, it needs to have:

  1. been gained in the previous three years
  2. been in English and Welsh law and practice, and in one or more areas of law
  3. enabled the acquisition of one or more of the Practice Skills Standards and/or the Principles, and
  4. been adequately supervised and appraised.

When considering whether to take account of relevant work-based experience for a trainee who completed a sandwich placement during the academic stage of training, you may also take the following non-mandatory guidance into account:

  1. the placement should normally have been at level 3 of the national qualifications framework or above
  2. the placement should have been for at least three months
  3. whether the placement was with an authorised training provider
  4. whether the trainee was paid a reasonable salary during the placement, taking account of the national minimum wage and the SRA minimum salary for trainees
  5. whether the trainee satisfactorily completed the placement and was awarded the academic stage qualification.

The minimum salary

Trainee solicitors should be paid at least a minimum salary as we prescribe. Current minimum salary levels, which came into effect on 1 August 2011 and are applicable to all trainees, are

  • £18,590 for trainees working in Central London
  • £16,650 for trainees working elsewhere

Current recommended salary levels are

  • £19,040 for trainees working in Central London
  • £16,940 for trainees working elsewhere

From 1 August 2014 these levels change, and trainees will have to be paid at least the single hourly rate of the national minimum wage specified in regulation 11 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 which may change from time to time.

Induction of trainees

At the beginning of the training period, it is good practice to provide an induction for all trainees, including those who have worked for you before in another capacity.

The induction is an opportunity to clarify the roles and responsibilities of those who will be involved in the trainee's training, to familiarise the trainee with office procedures, to introduce fellow staff members and to explain the nature of the work they will undertake.

You are free to organise the induction as best suits your organisation. It does not need to be formal or lengthy. Suggestions for what should be covered include:

  • an introduction to your organisation, the training scheme, the Practice Skills Standards and your expectations of the trainee
  • how the training will be organised
  • the form of the training record that you want the trainee to keep, how and when it is to be completed, and when it will be reviewed
  • arrangements for supervision, informal performance review and formal appraisals
  • your office procedures including pastoral care, office hours, holidays, and health and safety
  • any other relevant matters, such as your IT and office equipment and systems for time-recording and billing, library and research facilities, secretarial and administrative support.

Termination of a training contract – 2011 regulations

From time to time, a trainee and their training establishment may wish to terminate a training contract. Training contracts which were entered into under the 2011 Training Regulations are subject to the 2011 regulations in full, unless there has been agreement of both the trainee and the training provider to adopt the 2014 Training regulations. As a result, training contracts may only be cancelled by means of:

  1. mutual agreement, completing an application to register the cancellation of a training contract. The training principal certifies that the trainee has satisfied the period of training, and is of suitable character to become a solicitor. Both parties sign to confirm their agreement to the cancellation. The completed form is sent to us
  2. a cancellation clause, where the training contract is conditional on the trainee passing the CPE and/or the LPC and the trainee does not pass
  3. an application to us by either party. This situation usually arises where there are training-related problems that cannot be resolved internally.
  4. an agreement that training should continue under the Training Regulations 2014.

We encourage training principals and trainees to resolve issues internally – if at all possible. If this proves impossible, contact us.

Unless there are other justifiable reasons to do so, we will only terminate a training contract if:

  1. the training contract is conditional on the trainee passing any of the academic stages of qualification or the LPC, and they do not pass
  2. the trainee's conduct is unacceptable
  3. the trainee is incapable of meeting the Practice Skills Standards; or
  4. the training establishment business closes or changes so much that it is not possible to properly train the trainee.

Termination of a training period – 2014 regulations

For periods of recognised training under the new regulations, it is important to realise that trainees are apprentices. Consequently, you may only bring an apprenticeship to an end if:

  1. you and the trainee agree
  2. the training contract is conditional on the trainee passing any of the academic stages of qualification or the LPC, and they do not pass
  3. the trainee's conduct is unacceptable
  4. the trainee is incapable of meeting the Practice Skills Standards; or
  5. the training establishment business closes or changes so much that it is not possible to properly train the trainee.

Practical experience in law

Trainee solicitors must gain practical experience in at least three distinct areas of English and Welsh law and practice. These areas may include, but are not limited to:

  • Administrative and Public Law
  • Agricultural Law
  • Aviation Law
  • Banking Law
  • Business Affairs
  • Chancery
  • Charity Law
  • Children Law
  • Insurance and Reinsurance
  • Civil Liberties/Human Rights
  • Commercial Law
  • Commercial Property
  • Company Law
  • Computer and IT Law
  • Construction/Civil Engineering
  • Consumer Problems
  • Conveyancing – Residential
  • Corporate Finance
  • Crime – General, Motoring, Juvenile
  • Debt and Money Advice
  • Education Law
  • Employment
  • Energy and Natural Resources
  • Environmental Law
  • European Community Law
  • Family
  • Financial and Investments Services
  • Fraud
  • Immigration Law
  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy
  • Insurance
  • International Law (non-EC)
  • Landlord and Tenant - Residential
  • Libel and Defamation
  • Liquor Licensing/Gaming
  • Maritime/Shipping/Admiralty
  • Media
  • Mediation – Family, Civil/Commercial
  • Medical Negligence
  • Mental Health
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Military Law
  • Neighbour Disputes
  • Pension Law
  • Personal Injury
  • Planning Law
  • Professional Negligence
  • Taxation
  • Transport - Road and Rail
  • Travel and Tourism
  • Trust
  • Welfare Benefits
  • Wills and Probate.

Trainees must also have opportunities to develop their skills as specified in the Practice Skills Standards.

Training may be organised in one of two ways:

  1. the trainee works in at least three distinct departments or 'seats,' spending a specified period (usually about six months) in each
  2. the trainee works in various areas of law on a day-to-day basis, in line with the type of work available

However the training is organised, you should try to ensure that

  1. enough time is spent in each area for the trainee to be trained properly in it. Although we do not specify the amount of time this would take, we anticipate that it could not be achieved in less than the equivalent of three months during the training period
  2. the trainee is guided and tutored in professional conduct, ethics and client care
  3. the level and complexity of the trainee's work is increased gradually during the training period
  4. each trainee maintains their own training record, keeping track of the work they have done and the skills they have used.

To reiterate here, regulations 12.1(a) and (d) require that the trainee is supervised properly and their performance reviewed and appraised regularly.

Secondments

If your organisation cannot provide trainees with experience in three separate areas of law, or experience in the range of work required by the skills standards, you must arrange for the trainee to be seconded.

Secondments can also be arranged where your organisation is able to provide the required range of experience, but you feel that they would benefit from time spent at a firm's client company, for example.

In either case, when arranging a secondment, you remain responsible for their training. This means you must ensure that the trainee will be:

  1. adequately supervised
  2. appraised regularly
  3. given training in English and Welsh law and practice.

Secondments do not have to be approved by us.

The Professional Skills Course

Trainees should ideally attend and successfully complete the Professional Skills Course (PSC) during the training period. The course is offered by authorised providers, on an external or in-house basis. The PSC guidelines give full details of the course content and the authorisation requirements. You are required to pay for a trainee's first attempt and reasonable expenses (regulation 10.2(e)).

It is not a regulatory requirement for you to allow time-off for study of the PSC, but you may wish to consider whether to offer paid study leave at the outset of training, and advise the trainee accordingly.

Training record

Trainees are responsible for ensuring that they maintain an adequate record of their training under (regulation 14). It is used to record the experience that the trainee is getting and the skills they are developing.

By the end of the training period, the record will need to show that the trainee has good experience in at least three distinct practice areas and has met the Practice Skills Standards.

The trainee should use the preparation and review of the training record as an opportunity to reflect on what they have learnt and where there may be gaps in their experience and skills.

We do not prescribe the format of the training record, but we recommend that the record includes:

  1. details of work performed
  2. skills used (with reference to the Practice Skills Standards)
  3. the trainee's observations and reflections on their performance
  4. any other training or professional development
  5. any professional conduct issues that may have arisen.

You can download a sample training record form (PDF 2 pages, 59K).

Supervisors may find it helpful to review the training record regularly, to ensure that the trainee is undertaking work of a breadth and depth sufficient to meet our requirements. The training record also can be used as part of appraisal and performance review. Regulation 14.1(d) requires supervisors to verify the training record.

Supervising trainees

Most organisations employ trainees anticipating that they will contribute to the future development of the business. Good training demands significant time and resources, and good supervision is vital to ensure that trainees make a worthwhile contribution during their training and remain motivated and committed to your organisation.

The supervisor's role in training should not be underestimated; they are responsible for providing practical day-to-day training and for giving trainees appropriate opportunities to develop their legal skills and knowledge.

On a day-to-day basis, and throughout the training period, trainees may be supervised by a number of different people within your organisation – including partners, managers, solicitors or experienced legal executives. Under regulation 13.1, the training principal is responsible for ensuring that anyone who supervises trainees has the appropriate legal knowledge and experience in the practice area they are supervising, as well as having the skills to perform the role effectively.

It is therefore a good idea to allow supervisors adequate time and resources. You may also require them to demonstrate in some way a sound understanding both of the training requirements and of all that is expected of them as supervisors.

Typical supervisors' responsibilities are to:

  1. allocate work and tasks of an appropriate level, gradually increasing the level and the complexity of the work over time, while encouraging the trainee to suggest solutions independently
  2. provide a balance between substantive and procedural tasks that – as a whole – demands the use of a broad range of skills
  3. provide clear instructions and ensure that they have been understood
  4. offer advice and guidance on appropriate research methods and materials along with sufficient information and factual background about a case or matter
  5. set a realistic time-scale for work to be completed and answer questions as they arise, within a supportive environment that does not deter the trainee from asking questions in the future
  6. monitor the trainee's workload to ensure they have a sufficient but not excessive amount of work
  7. help ensure that the trainee maintains an up-to-date training record that identifies the work they have performed and the skills they have deployed
  8. review the training record regularly to ensure that an appropriate balance of work and skills is struck
  9. give regular feedback to the trainee regarding their performance, recognising achievements and improvements, and constructively addressing areas that require further effort
  10. conduct or participate in formal appraisals of the trainee
  11. provide an environment that encourages the trainee to take responsibility for their own development.

Information on the type of work that can be given to trainees to help them develop their skills is included in the Practice Skills Standards.

Performance review and sign-off

At the end of the period of recognised training, the training provider certifies that the trainee has completed training (regulation 12.5(b)) in accordance with regulation 5. To sign someone off, the provider should be satisfied that the trainee has received appropriate training and has achieved the required skills.

For training principals to be sure of this, and for trainees to learn from their experience in practice, develop their skills, and improve their performance, trainees require feedback on the tasks they have performed.

It is a good idea to give trainees feedback on a day-to-day basis, in addition to the regular informal progress reviews and formal appraisals required by regulation 12.1(d).

The certification required by regulation 12.5(b), or 'sign-off', will be the responsibility of the training provider where the trainee completes their training. So if a trainee has completed a period of training elsewhere, the training principal at the last firm will need to be satisfied that the training done elsewhere was of the required standard – this can be done by reviewing the trainee's record and/or discussing their performance with the previous firm. It is a good idea to undertake these considerations at the time you take the trainee on.

At any point during the period of recognised training the trainee has a responsibility to report to us any matters that may affect their ability to meet the outcomes of our Suitability Test. This will include criminal convictions, police cautions, reprimands and final warnings, academic misconduct, as well as financial problems such as bankruptcy or entering into voluntary arrangements. A trainee's character and suitability will also be assessed by us when they apply to become admitted.

Failure to disclose when required by regulation 6 of the SRA Training Regulations 2014 or the SRA Admission Regulations 2011 will be regarded as a serious breach of the regulations and may result in the trainee's eligibility to train being revoked, the training being terminated, and/or their application for admission as a solicitor being refused.

Informal review

An important part of measuring and ensuring that the appropriate standards are being achieved and developed is regular review of the trainee's performance.

You are advised to undertake frequent, informal reviews of the trainee's training record. We recommend an informal performance review about once per month. This will help supervisors and trainees to:

  1. review progress toward agreed objectives
  2. deal with any difficulties close to the event
  3. compare the breadth and depth of work being performed by the trainee with requirements of the Practice Skills Standards
  4. address any professional conduct or ethics issues that may have arisen
  5. discuss future training.

Appraisals

The purpose of a formal appraisal is to review the trainee's overall performance, assess the development of their skills, identify areas of strength and weakness, agree new objectives and plan future training. The appraisal should not include any surprises, because problems should always be dealt with as they arise.

We advise that as a minimum three formal appraisals should be conducted during the two-year training period: one in the first year, one in the second year, and one at the end. However, we recommend that trainees be appraised formally every six months.

Appraisals are normally conducted face to face, and the discussions recorded and documented. During the discussion, the trainee should have an opportunity to ask questions and to raise any concerns they may have.

We do not prescribe the form of the appraisal documentation. However, a sample appraisal document is available, and can be used unaltered or adapted to suit your requirements.

Support services

Although it is not a regulatory requirement, your organisation should have adequate support arrangements for trainees including

  1. a desk for the trainee's own work
  2. appropriate secretarial support
  3. access to library and relevant research facilities in order to be able to provide adequate training as required by the SRA Training Regulations 2014.

Monitoring

We monitor training providers to ensure that they are providing adequate training.

We recognise that organisations invest significant time and resources in training. The purpose of the monitoring scheme is to identify and recognise best practice and, where necessary, to provide guidance and advice on training improvements. The current monitoring scheme was launched in 2000; many organisations that have been monitored have found the exercise constructive and useful.

The first stage of the monitoring process is for training principals and trainees to complete questionnaires detailing how the training requirements are being satisfied.

We might then select the organisation for a monitoring visit. A qualified solicitor with experience of training and the training regulations undertakes the visit. During the visit, the monitor discusses the training provision with the training principal and trainees and sometimes with others involved in training. At the end of the visit, the monitor meets with the training principal to discuss areas of best practice and to agree any actions that may be needed for improvement.

A monitoring report is sent after the visit to the training principal and the trainees interviewed.

Practice Skills Standards

During the training period, trainee solicitors develop and apply the practice skills they will use as qualified solicitors.

The key elements of each skill – and the type of experience that will help trainees to develop that skill – are specified in the Practice Skills Standards.

Trainees develop the skills through a mixture of the following activities

  1. completing work and tasks by themselves
  2. assisting others
  3. observing experienced practitioners.

Supervisors must ensure that, over the course of their training, the amount and type of work given to trainees adequately covers each skill and is of an appropriate level and complexity for the trainee in question.

Advocacy and oral presentation

On completing the training period, trainee solicitors should be competent to exercise the rights of audience available to solicitors on admission.

Their experience will enable them to understand

  1. the communication skills of the advocate
  2. the techniques and tactics of examination, cross-examination and re-examination
  3. the need to act in accordance with the ethics, etiquette and conventions of the professional advocate.

The tasks trainees perform must enable them to grasp the principal skills required to prepare, conduct and present a case:

  1. identifying the client's goals
  2. identifying and analysing relevant factual and legal issues, and relating them to one another
  3. summarising the strengths and weaknesses of the case
  4. planning how to present the case
  5. outlining the facts in simple narrative form
  6. formulating a coherent submission based on the facts, general principles and legal authority in a structured, concise and persuasive manner.

The following activities are likely to foster these skills:

  1. helping to advise on pre-trial procedures
  2. helping to prepare cases before trial
  3. with one or more lawyers, attending the magistrates' courts to observe trials, bail applications, pleas of mitigation or committal, and observing submissions in chambers, examination, cross examination and re-examination in open court
  4. observing proceedings in family cases, industrial tribunals, planning tribunals or other tribunals or forms of dispute resolution
  5. as training progresses, and under appropriate supervision, conducting interim applications before a Master or District Judge
  6. becoming involved in presentations for clients or in preparing or delivering in-house training.

Case and transaction management

Trainee solicitors must begin to acquire skills in managing and running a case or transaction.

Trainees must be given work to enable them to understand the importance of

  1. producing a schedule for a case/transaction, broken up – where necessary – into phases
  2. planning out phases of work to include time, cost and risk management
  3. developing techniques to diarise, follow up and revisit matters at the appropriate time
  4. keeping accurate records and attendance notes
  5. effectively managing files
  6. regularly and fully reporting back to clients
  7. co-ordinating teams to review progress and revise options
  8. bringing matters to a timely, client-satisfactory conclusion
  9. wrapping up the matter, closing the file, and recovering costs and disbursements.

To develop these skills, trainees should work on larger cases or transactions as members of a team, or they should be given smaller transactions to run themselves, under close supervision.

Client care and practice support

To enable trainees to work effectively in an efficient practice, they must develop the skills required to manage time, effort and resources.

They should be given work that will enable them to

  1. prioritise tasks
  2. set and meet deadlines
  3. review and report progress on matters
  4. balance immediate and long-term objectives
  5. keep appropriate records
  6. understand the processes of setting fees and billing clients.

Activities that will help them to achieve this include

  1. planning work by the use of their diaries
  2. using email, word-processing, scheduling and organisational systems regularly and appropriately
  3. working effectively with support staff
  4. recording expenses and disbursements and obtaining reimbursement
  5. opening and closing files.

Trainees should develop good working habits, and supervisors should check this regularly.

Communication skills

Trainees should understand the need to refine their communication skills so that they can present oral and written communication in a way that achieves its purpose and is appropriate to the recipient.

They should be given work that will help them to

  1. select appropriate methods of communication
  2. express ideas concisely, clearly and logically
  3. use appropriate language
  4. use correct grammar, syntax and punctuation
  5. pay attention to detail by proof-reading, checking the format and numbering of documents, cross-referencing and using consistent terminology
  6. listen actively and speak effectively

Trainees can develop these skills by

  1. drafting letters, internal notes and memos
  2. reporting to clients and others by telephone
  3. taking notes in meetings
  4. dictating notes and letters

The importance of keeping clients regularly informed of the progress of a matter and the client care outcomes in Chapter 1 of the SRA Code of Conduct should be emphasised to trainees. Trainees should be given regular advice, guidance and feedback on their performance.

Dispute resolution

Trainees should become familiar with contentious work and gain a full understanding of the skills and practice of resolving disputes, including settling, mediation and adjudication, in a fair, cost-effective and timely way that meets client needs.

Trainees should be given opportunities to observe and/or assist in resolving disputes so that they will understand the need to

  1. take careful instructions
  2. identify the client's purpose and advise on the possible outcomes and costs
  3. thoroughly research the parties' liabilities
  4. gather evidence from witnesses or elsewhere
  5. consider all the options for resolving a dispute
  6. meet deadlines and keep clients informed of progress
  7. draft or prepare papers to assist in resolving a contentious matter
  8. control information central to the dispute throughout the proceeding
  9. represent the client and the client's interests through meetings, conferences and hearings
  10. ensure that settlements and judgements are secure and enforceable

Trainees can develop these skills by attending tribunal hearings or alternative dispute resolution meetings, observing proceedings and assisting with the preparation of cases.

Supervisors should explain how the work the trainee undertakes fits into the strategies pursued in a case and into the context of litigation as a whole. Trainees should be given feedback on work they have done and should be offered a perspective on the significance of their work to the case as a whole.

Drafting

Trainees should recognise the need for and be able to produce documents that are clear, precise and achieve their purpose.

They should be given work that enables them to

  1. maintain a standard of care that protects client interests and meets client objectives
  2. address all relevant and factual legal issues
  3. identify relevant options
  4. demonstrate a critical use of standard forms and precedents
  5. draft documents that
    • are consistent and coherent
    • are clear and precise
    • meet any requirements of form and style
     

Trainees can develop these skills by drafting

  1. witness statements and affidavits
  2. corporate resolutions
  3. wills and trust deeds
  4. statements of case
  5. transfer of property documents
  6. leases
  7. instructions to counsel
  8. contracts.

The complexity of trainees' work should be increased incrementally, and they should be given opportunities to amend drafts of documents received from the other side and to practise using standard forms and precedents.

Interviewing and advising

Trainees should understand the importance of identifying the client's goals along with the need to take accurate instructions. They should be given opportunities to observe and to conduct interviews with clients, experts, witnesses and others.

They should be given work that helps them understand the need to

  1. prepare for an interview
  2. allow clients or professional advisers to explain their concerns
  3. identify the client's goals and priorities
  4. use appropriate questioning techniques
  5. determine what further information is required
  6. identify possible courses of action and their consequences
  7. help the client decide the best course of action
  8. agree the action to be taken
  9. accurately record the interview, confirming the instructions and the action that needs to be taken
  10. establish a professional relationship with the client, and deal with any ethical problems that may arise.

Trainees can develop these skills by observing and taking notes of meetings and interviews, whether face to face or on the telephone.

The purpose of a meeting should be explained to the trainee, and the conduct of the meeting should be reviewed with them afterwards. Where a trainee is conducting an interview, the supervisor should carefully monitor any advice given by the trainee during the meeting, and give guidance and feedback on the trainee's performance after the meeting.

Legal research

Trainees should learn to find solutions by investigating the factual and legal issues, analysing problems and communicating the results of their research.

They should be given work that makes use of traditional and computerised research tools and sources, business information and other relevant sources.

Trainees could be required to

  1. research specific legal issues and factual, historical or commercial matters
  2. prepare for client interviews
  3. analyse corporate searches
  4. investigate title to property and other relevant searches
  5. review title documents and clients' papers
  6. assist with due diligence enquiries.

The person allocating the work should give the trainee

  1. background information on the context and purpose of the research
  2. clear instructions
  3. defined tasks
  4. information about any limitations to be imposed on their research
  5. guidance on where to begin.

Trainees must also be given guidance and feedback on their performance.

Negotiation

Trainees should understand the processes involved in contentious and non-contentious negotiations, and appreciate the importance to the client of reaching agreement or resolving a dispute.

They should be given opportunities to observe negotiations conducted by experienced practitioners and/or to conduct negotiations under close supervision. They should be given work that will help them understand the process of negotiation including:

  1. identifying the central issues and explaining them to the client
  2. assessing the bargaining-positions of each party
  3. planning a negotiation
  4. establishing an agenda at the start
  5. listening actively
  6. using appropriate questioning techniques
  7. generating alternative solutions to resolve the issues
  8. using an appropriate negotiating style
  9. identifying the strategy and tactics used by the other side
  10. documenting the agreement or settlement
  11. explaining the benefits and disadvantages of the agreement or settlements

Guidance should be given on the purpose of negotiation, and feedback should be provided on the outcome and on the trainee's performance.

Contact information

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