Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Young litigation solicitors and their perceptions of movement from qualification to the 3-year watershed
Author: Ching, Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 9546
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2009
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The study first discusses solicitors' training, in its political context, providing an outline of litigation practice measured against relevant competence frameworks, including those intended to mark the point of qualification for the future, demonstrating that the point of qualification may be characterised by stress, uncertainty and mixed messages as to the status (if any) now achieved: a period of "professional adolescence". The currently proposed competence framework for the point of qualification is analysed so as to extract from it an assumed "competence for development". The literature relating to CPD; adult learning; nature and acquisition of expertise and workplace learning is then analysed in the context of the interview group. The existing CPD scheme is found to permit, rather than to encourage, development including the "aspiration" required to increase the scope of activity (contrasted with enhancement of the quality of performance). The andragogical assumptions, in particular those of selfdirection and autonomy, are compared with the literature on the novice-expert spectrum, reconciled by concluding that the period of professional adolescence may depress developmental autonomy. Further discussion of expertise includes the questions whether junior lawyers perceive expert traits in colleagues; whether they assume that expertise is acquired unconsciously by accumulating "experience" or whether they perceive expert rules as susceptible of being taught. The discussion of workplace learning considers manifestation of the andragogical assumptions in the workplace, contrasting acquisition of tacit learning through "experience" with deliberate "engagement with experience" including classic reflection-on-action but also embracing the asking of questions and other recourse to colleagues. The role of the employer as definer, constrainer or supporter of developmental activity is woven into discussion at all stages. The methodology adopted is a pragmatic synthesis of phenomenology with the disciplines of grounded theory; deployed in face-to-face interviews and detailed coding of transcripts. Analysis first examines perceptions of the benchmarks of qualification and the three year watershed, concluding that prior experience in the training contract informs not only feelings of confidence and competence at the point of qualification but contributes to a perceived "deficit" which preoccupies and defines developmental activity in many for at least the subsequent two years. CPD, whilst ostensibly prioritised as sanctioned learning, is, despite assumptions that it involves didactic legal updating, perceived as addressing parts of that deficit subject to constraints about tightly defined relevance of content and level and appropriate delivery which supplies manageable steps for implementation of what is learned. Workplace learning is perceived as more valuable, allowing in particular for the repetition of tasks and the experiencing of the whole of a transaction seen to be absent from the training contract but informing the unconscious acquisition of expertise. Nevertheless, aspects of engagement with experience, in particular asking questions and the use of self-selected "slight seniors" are apparent, whilst reflection-on-action is possible for those whose deficit is less pronounced or who are able to draw on assistance for implementation. The study then concludes with an examination of the shape of the assumed competence for development derived from the picture provided by the interviews.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available