ULaw’s director of business development, Morette Jackson, reflects on the past year and her hopes for a people-focused approach to law and education in the year ahead
Staying connected and the human factor
Staying connected has probably never been so important. And staying connected and engaging with students, clients and the future of the profession is exactly what The University of Law (ULaw) has set out to do in the design of its Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) programmes at this time of change.
At a time when we are negotiating a global pandemic, Brexit and a sea change in legal education with the introduction of the SQE, Morette Jackson, director of business development at ULaw, reflects on the past year and her hopes for a people-focused approach to law and education in the year ahead.
“No one is going to deny that this is a time of change,” she says. “What has emerged is the importance of human connection. We are all aiming for greater awareness, empathy and resilience. Law and education are, after all, both people businesses.”
Seizing the opportunity
Changes to the legal education system have created a once in a generation opportunity to re-think the training and development of lawyers.
In preparation for this opportunity ULaw has consulted widely across the profession on the needs of both law firms and their clients and what makes an effective junior lawyer.
What emerged from this process was the consistent message that, over and above SQE success (which firms regard as essential), training programmes needed to combine technical excellence with greater development of skills and behaviours of future lawyers and a greater focus on people skills.
ULaw is seizing this opportunity to take a more people-focused approach to the formation of lawyers in its SQE training with a greater emphasis throughout its SQE programmes on skills such as:
• Building strong working relationships
• Creating value through legal initiatives
• Being adaptable
Simulating the future world of work
So, for example, students at ULaw will work together during their SQE studies in a simulated law firm, known as ‘ULaw LLP’. In a collaborative environment, ULaw’s SQE students will learn the law and apply their skills, behaviours and people skills in replicated trainee tasks with tutors acting as their supervisors.
“Studying at ULaw, future trainees will start their individual journeys to becoming technically excellent lawyers with the appropriate mindset, attitudes, values, skills and behaviours to meet the challenges of working in modern and diverse law firms with demanding and innovative clients. Beyond securing exam success in SQE 1 and 2, our SQE Plus programme goes further and embeds commerciality and the development of people skills and behaviours at its heart to ensure ULaw students are office and client ready,” continues Jackson.
Engaging with future students
At the same time ULaw has also engaged with current and future students throughout this design process to ensure that their needs and ambitions are properly reflected in the new training programmes. Students are already pursuing diverse routes into the profession and the new regime will offer them even greater opportunities to do this.
All this change has led to greater complexity and ULaw is using its expertise to guide others to make good decisions. “It’s a complex landscape”, says Jackson, “and students rely on law schools such as ULaw to guide them through the choices and advise them on future career paths. Our knowledge and experience of the sector mean that we are well-placed to do this and we take this responsibility very seriously.”
The University of Law and The O Shaped Lawyer
ULaw already has experience delivering training in people-focused skills and behaviours and is well-placed to embed this into its training programmes.
ULaw was the first law school to partner with The O Shaped Lawyer Group, a group of GCs passionate about driving positive change in the legal industry. The Group highlights how powerful a more people-focused approach to the formation of lawyers can be. Together ULaw and The O Shaped Lawyer Group have designed and delivered a training programme for junior lawyers in practice.
ULaw hopes to align its SQE provision with the ongoing provision of O Shaped Lawyer training to junior lawyers at the start of their careers.
Integrated into the study of the University’s SQE programmes are those people-centric skills and behaviours that firms and clients are looking for from their future junior lawyers to become well-rounded lawyers, connected to each other, their firm and their clients.
Morette Jackson is director of business development at The University of Law. She will be speaking at The SQE Sessions, a half-day virtual event taking place this week, on Thursday 28 January, to mark the start of the SQE launch year. Final Release tickets are available to purchase. Secure your place now.
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