Published on April 16, 2020 by lauraduckett

young professional lawyer having a virtual meeting

Read on to find out how the legal sector has been affected this week by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Professional Skills Course to Go Online

Providers of the course are making amendments to put their courses online ensuring trainees can finish their qualifications on time.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority said: “Certain parts of the compulsory core subjects for the PSC require face to face assessment. We appreciate that it will be challenging to meet these requirements during the outbreak. We have therefore decided to consider applications for online or remote proctoring of assessments for the PSC, or assessment of oral skills by video-link”

PSC providers must apply for approval before making the changes and the changes will be assessed on a provider by provider basis. Approval may also be reviewed by the SRA at any stage.

The University of Law is scheduling all of their PSC core modules to run remotely using its live interactive online tool. This includes Client Care and Professional Standards, Advocacy and Communication Skills, Financial and Business Skills as well as the elective modules for the PSC.

BARBRI Altior has moved all of their face-to-face courses online via their Live Online Platform. This week Legal Futures reported that BARBRI Altior launched the virtual version of the core PSC module: Advocacy and Communication.

BPP law school has been working with the SRA with the aim of delivering the PSC online and have a “large number of programmes scheduled over the next few months”.

The Professional Skills Course is the final piece of training that trainee solicitors must complete before being able to qualify as a solicitor. It tends to be completed during the course of their training contracts.

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Update: Firms Offering Virtual Summer Vacation Schemes

After last week’s news that Clifford Chance was going to be putting their summer vacation scheme online, it seems that other firms may begin to follow in their footsteps to avoid stunting their recruitment for this year.

Pinsent Masons’ head of early talent Deborah McCormack has told Legal Cheek that the firm will offer a virtual summer vacation scheme in response to the pandemic. She highlighted it “critical” that the firm adapts its approach to talent recruitment. It is also reported that the firm will use education platform InsideSherpa and some of its lawyers and staff to design a virtual placement. Legal Cheek also reports that the US firm Vinson & Elkins is also running an online version of their vacation scheme throughout the summer.

Inns of Court to Provide “Package of Measures” to Help Those Facing Financial Hardship

The Inns of Court highlighted in a press release that an urgent package of measures was being worked on to assist those most in need. This will include:

  • “Participation in and an immediate contribution towards an emergency fund to distribute funds to barristers in need; and
  • Hardship funds provided by each Inn, designed primarily to assist pupils and other junior barristers who are not eligible for government assistance for the self-employed or help from the BBA”

Read the full press release here.

Consultation on the Use of Remote Family Hearings Begins

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory will oversee a two-week rapid consultation on the use of remote hearings in the family justice system. This comes after President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane identified an urgent need for evidence to inform the guidelines given on the use of these types of hearings.

The Consultation began on the 14th of April and will run until the 28th of April 2020. The Nuffield FJO is seeking evidence from families with children and all professionals in the family justice to include: barristers, solicitors, CAFCASS workers, court staff, social workers, magistrates and family magistrates.

The judiciary’s announcement highlighted that the Nuffield FJO will also convene virtual meetings to discuss the issues and draw findings from the existing research over the next two weeks.

For specific information about what evidence is required and where to send responses see here.

Words: Alicia Gibson

Missed last week’s update: Read it here!

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