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Commercial law firm Beachcroft Wansbroughs has launched a post-graduate diploma for its newly-qualified litigation lawyers, which is the equivalent of half an LLM.
More than 60 students have already started work on the part-time defendant litigation course, which launched last month and will take two years to complete. Helen Staines, a partner in the firm's litigation practice, said the course was aimed at "developing a newly-qualified lawyer's analytical and strategic skills beyond the 'litigation-by-numbers' approach that is seen in many off-the-shelf courses".
Partners have been trained to tutor the students on the course, while associates will act as mentors. The diploma, which was developed in conjunction with Nottingham Law School, consists of six two-day modules spread over the two years, in subjects such as case and evidence analysis, risk assessment, report writing, cognitive interviewing and conducting a trial.
Staines added that Beachcrofts disagrees with the approach towards training favoured by firms behind the so-called City Legal Practice Course (LPC), which pushes trainees towards specialist areas early on in their careers.
"The very best way to learn is on the job," said Staines. "It doesn't matter how you tweak the LPC course, because as soon as [trainees] get into the office they'll be retaught again anyway. We think [it is better] to stay as broad as possible."
Interest in the course is already high and Staines thinks that many of the participants will want to go on to complete the full LLM. But students on the course will not be granted any additional time to complete their homework.
"It will be a lot of work," admitted Staines. "And there will not be a lot of leeway. But we have quite a good work-life balance, so a bit of pressure is not necessarily a bad thing." 'It doesn't matter how you tweak the LPC course, as soon as trainees get into the office they'll be retaught again anyway' Helen Staines, Beachcrofts