First of all, we have to welcome into the profession and to membership of SLAS, the 2019 cohort of new colleagues. With 27 members, this was the largest group that has taken the programme although not all members were doing the whole programme this year. As can be seen from the photographs, this at least looks like a superb new cohort of future colleagues and, from our training programme, we have every confidence that they will take the profession successfully into a future which has, by courtesy of Esther Robertson and others such as the Competition and Markets Authority, suddenly begun to look ominously interesting.
Michael Franklin, Michael Cunningham, Andrew Mack, Calum Thornton, Lewis Barn
Sheila Mackintosh, Kaitlin Boswell, Jasmine Ferguson, Antonia Jones, Nicola Cathcart
Alannah Sloss, Taylor Muir, Laura McGurnughan, Matthew Albiston, Laura Robb, Luci Petrescu, Amrit Singh Pawar, Laura Barnett
Lauren McGhie, Jennifer O’Brien, Lauren Smith, Christine Brownlie
As far as the 2020 programme is concerned, we have decided to consider whether or not it is appropriate for a national society such as SLAS, to present a training programme which can only be undertaken by physical attendance within Glasgow City Centre. We will now look at a possible, new timetable which will reduce substantially the number of face to face attendances in Glasgow and introduce an element of electronic networking which will enable suitable parts of the programme to be undertaken by podcast or such like at a distance. The draft timetable is printed below. As you can see, this proposes an element of Saturday morning attendance and we would be most interested to hear from prospective subscribers as to whether that is something that would be welcomed. It may be that we will revise the timetable if Saturdays are deemed to be beyond the pale or it may even be that we would run alternative timetables in parallel if the number of interests makes that financially feasible. Please send your views and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to book a place on the 2020 programme, then please go to www.slas.co.uk and click on the news item entitled Free Trial Podcast where you will find an application form which you can download, print, complete and post into the address provided.
As usual the trainers feel they learned as much from the 2019 programme as the trainees who brought to the course an interest and enthusiasm which helped everyone to enjoy and benefit from it. Over the years, we have come to the conclusion that one of the most valuable aspects of the programme , if not the most valuable, is the opportunity for trainees to network in a community with trainees from other firms in other parts of the country and from other areas of legal practice. I emphasise the collegiate nature of the TCPD at this particular point in time because we now hear the sound of jungle drums that seek to diminish or extinguish that aspect of the programme. This is based on the premise that it is the firms which pay for the TCPD and, rather than lose their trainee solicitors for periods of time attending TCPD programmes, they could be better trained for the particular purposes of the training firms if they did that training in house. This would avoid periods out of the office and would make the trainee more specifically suitable for work in that firm, if their traineeship is extended into a long term position. There are two huge fallacies in that position. In the first place, it assumes that, because most firms pay for their trainees’ TCPD programmes, then somehow the firm becomes the paying customer. That is not the case. The customer is very much the trainee. The trainee is entitled to a proper training as a solicitor and not a restricted training as a clone to a particular firm. The second fallacy is the assumption that the trainee will proceed to a long term or permanent position in the training firm. That is most certainly not the case as 22 trainees found out a few years ago when, having undertaken traineeships addressed specifically to work in the Crown Office, found that their positions were terminated at the conclusion of their traineeships. Many of them were subsequently re-engaged at Crown Office but the position was made clear that that might not necessarily have been the case.
Although our formal meetings run from January to June 2020, the community forms itself by email, podcast and website communication as soon as trainees apply to join the programme. This way, we hope to have much of the basis of the programme established before the formal meetings commence. We also provide subscribing trainees with a one year free membership of the Scottish Law Agents Society, including all publications and other members’ rights during that period. This further extends the networking potential of the programme. Please find application forms for the TCPD programme enclosed with this edition.
We also welcome the new cohort of trainees to the TCPD 2020 programme and ask for the assistance of the wider SLAS membership (ie you) with the course input which can only come from the practising profession and which distinguishes our programme from those provided from outwith the practising profession. If, in the course of your practice, you come across some particular gem of a style or some unusual and instructive document of legal title or some piece of correspondence which casts light upon some particular practical issue, or a piece of legislation of particular usefulness, then please think about sending a copy with or without comment to email@example.com. Any such item should of course be suitably anonymised and, if not, will certainly be anonymised at our end prior to use or presentation. Much of the programme is made up from such items provided from a relatively narrow range of practitioners and while these items make a valuable contribution to the course, I am convinced there is much richer seam of intelligence waiting to be mined for the better instruction and training not only of trainee solicitors but of the “practising” membership of SLAS at large.
We propose therefore one particular, important change in the structure of the TCPD programme for 2020. We propose to incorporate delivery by podcast. These podcasts will be supported by email material and participation will be verified by the return of email responses within set periods. For example, the Legal Writing module will be supported by email text and trainees will be required to return responses to requests contained within the podcast delivery. The timetable is shown below. However, this is very much in draft at the present time and we seek to run a trial podcast exercise which you can find by visiting www.slas.co.uk, go to the News Section and open Free Trial Podcast where you will find a link to the podcast.
Please note that the venue for our programme at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow is situated at about 200 metres from Queen Street Station and is particularly convenient for attendance by train.
It would be very helpful if, when making your application, you would let us know of any particular matters you would like to address during the TCPD programme or of any particular problems you anticipate in the course of training and legal practice. Do you know how to address the persons who will preside over the various different courts and tribunals and other forms of hearing in which you will be called to make representations? Is it sufficient to have communications recorded in electronic format or is it necessary also to retain paper copies with wet signatures? Would you like the programme to include a basic instruction as to how to manage an email account and electronic document construction and management? This is your programme and you are invited to reflect upon your studies and experience thus far and to contribute to the construction of a programme which will be of the maximum interest and benefit.