CAVEAT: This was written in August 2010 before the new Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Glasgow started. For the current position, I would strongly recommend you refer to my good friend Michelle Hynes-McIlroy’s blawg at legaleaglemhm.wordpress.com which provides a first-hand account of how the new Diploma in Legal Practice, led by Douglas Mill, is and, indeed, will be changing the face of legal practice in Scotland.
The Scottish Diploma in Legal Practice requires the teaching of various practical courses aimed at developing young lawyers. One such course is dedicated to accountancy, half of the exam for which demands that students create a profit and loss account and balance sheet from scratch.
I think many solicitors and students would like to see at least also business management, communication, leadership and motivation, or at least such soft skills, taught either separately on the diploma or the PCC, or more emphatically through the practice management course within the Diploma.
There should be a fundamental distinction between brilliant lawyering and brilliant management, which should be appreciated by all Diploma students and graduates. As Professors Stefancic and Delgado explain:
“The days of the attorney as a wise counselor have largely passed. Law is a business. And that business is to sell technical advice at the highest price possible”.
They go on:
“Many lawyers lament that law seems more a business than a profession”.
This is reflected in the progressive image of other industries. Professor Lorne Crerar of Harper MacLeod used to stress, in his Commercial Banking Honours tutorials at the University of Glasgow, that banking is becoming and, perhaps, is a business, just like any other.
It is granted, however, that business skills are mostly gained either osmotically, through a quality traineeship, progressive career as a solicitor, or actively, through courses targeted at associates and partners.
But if so much emphasis goes into courses like accountancy, some of which I and a lot of other trainees in my year found rather, but not entirely, irrelevant, why can’t emphasis be given in the birth pool of the Diploma to a wider range of soft skills? As excellent as most of the teaching has been and, indeed, is on the Diplomas across Scotland, students aren’t paying thousands of pounds to be taught irrelevances.
Perhaps this suggestion could be another string to the bow of ABS, or, indeed, ADS?!
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