Clare trainee solicitors adapt to online learning

Photo: Law Society of Ireland/Facebook

Clare trainee solicitors were among 448 candidates to make history as the first group undertaking the Law Society of Ireland’s inaugural online Professional Practice Course II (PPC II).

Responding to Covid-19, the Law Society, like other educational bodies, has adapted to deliver 100% of its educational offering online, through pre-recorded eLectures, workshops and skills sessions supported by Zoom.

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Director of Education, T P Kennedy explains, “Bringing PPC II online is a historic day in the continuing development and modernisation of solicitor training in Ireland. We are delighted to welcome an enthusiastic group to PCC II online and are fully committed to providing excellent professional training to our future solicitors.”

To date, online participation in PPC II has been very high with 99% attending the welcoming lecture, 98% attending IT Services & Zoom Training Tutorials and 84% attending the first Shrink Me Online sessions.

David Murphy is a trainee solicitor at Michael Houlihan and Partners, Ennis and is part of the Law Society’s PPC II cohort adapting to the new online structure.

“I’ve found PPC II online less disruptive than I thought it would be,” he said. “The Zoom tutorials work really well and I’ve found eLectures are an easier format to learn from as you can go back over things you missed or find difficult.”

“For me, the main challenge is around planning work and keeping up to date with all the different subjects. Of course, I also miss getting to catch up with friends who train at different firms but we still have some PPC II clubs and societies running remotely,” said Mr Murphy.

Adapting and empowering

PPC II is a full-time on site training course at the Law Society that runs from April-July, where trainee solicitors return to Blackhall Place after a year of in-office training. The new structure provides all the benefits of our traditional face-to-face tuition and a sense of connected learning within the Zoom classroom.

“PPC II has been adapted for online delivery with an emphasis on usability, mobile friendliness and peer-to-peer engagement. The programme is designed to empower trainees, and provide access to lectures and course materials remotely to be consumed at their own pace,” explained Mr Kennedy.

“However, delivering online education is nothing new to the Law Society,” he said. “In 2016 the Law Society became the first professional educator in Europe to receive the ‘Apple Distinguished School’ award, and was recently reaccredited until 2021. The PPC II online structure is building on this foundation.”

“We are utilising technology to do more than simply mimic standard lecture delivery.” said Mr Kennedy. “We are particularly focused on how to minimise the risks identified in taking an online course which include – isolation, unfamiliarity with technology and disengagement due to ineffective e-resources and instruction.”

Supporting positive mental wellbeing

“While we are using technology to meet the educational needs of our trainees, we are also mindful of protecting their personal health and wellbeing,” said Mr Kennedy.

“Throughout PPC II, the Law Society is offering Free Time Concentrated Therapy sessions, which support trainees in achieving positive mental wellbeing. The dedicated Psychological Services team provide counselling through confidential Zoom sessions in compliance with the highest of clinical, safety and GDPR standards,“ he explained.

“Shrink Me Online also provides a safe and positive platform for trainees to unlock their wellbeing through shared thoughts, ideas and engagement with the Law School community,” he added.

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