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Professional Law Institute

The Professional Law Institute is a new component of The Dickson Poon School of Law, bringing together a number of initiatives focusing on legal education and training in the context of professional practice.

About the Professional Law Institute

The Professional Law Institute provides a focal point for practice-based education, research and civic engagement, as well as strengthening connections to practitioners and stakeholder institutions in the heart of legal London. The PLI team, led by our Director of Professional Legal Education, Chris Howard, is responsible for leading the Law School’s strategy on the development of new professional education courses.

The Institute brings together a host of connected activities including: the King’s Legal Clinic; the Professional Skills modules; industry events; and future professional education programmes.  It also supports mooting, the work of the Careers & Employability team, and practice-based research.  

PLI People

The Professional Law Institute team comprises Senior Lecturers who are qualified lawyers with a focus on practice-based education.

Professional Skills modules

This module provides an interdisciplinary study of the analytic and cognitive perspectives to decision-making under conditions of uncertainty (when decisions involve unknown future states) and strategic interdependence (when decisions need to consider expected actions of other people). The emphasis is on the aspects of decision-making relevant in professional practice. The knowledge is widely applicable for all aspects of legal work that requires strategic thinking and tactical choices (litigation, negotiation, competition, client management, deal structuring, etc.).
The module has a prescriptive and a descriptive component. In the prescriptive part, the students will receive training in decision analysis, a formal analytical framework for decisions under uncertainty. This set of normative tools is commonly used in capital investments, medical and policy decisions and increasingly employed by law firms advising clients. It provides a risk-neutral, systematic way of evaluating choices and making decisions. The descriptive part of the module focuses on the psychology of poor judgment and decision-making. It is taught in light of the dual process theory, the dominant framework in cognitive neuroscience, which is used to describe and to some extent explain the heuristics and biases in human decision making.
The overarching aim of the module is to inform the students about where decision making can go wrong (descriptive research on poor decision making), as well as to train them to make better decisions.

This module draws upon 30 years of interdisciplinary research in negotiation from the perspectives of law, economics, game theory, and social, cognitive-behavioural and psychodynamic psychology.
It provides comprehensive theoretical background as well as training in negotiation and aims to address the requirements of modern legal practice, where effective legal work often entails negotiations in complex interpersonal settings involving multiple parties and multiple issues, and where deal-making, consensus building, and problem-solving frequently take the central stage.
The module explores the Principled negotiation model, as well as advanced interdisciplinary theory on negotiation, including the Three Tensions model (creating vs claiming value, empathy vs assertiveness, and the principal-agent tension), and the insights from research in cognitive-behavioural psychology.
While the module will provide the participants with the conceptual understanding of the complex interdisciplinary phenomena taking place during negotiation, the focus will be on training in effective practical negotiation. That involves teaching the relevant analytical tools, recognition of interpersonal dynamics, managing the tension between value-creation and value-claiming and dealing with a difficult negotiator. A number of negotiation styles are presented so that participants can adopt the ones that suit them best.

This module has been created to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of how financial statements are prepared to represent the profitability, liquidity and value of a business. The key educational objective of this course is therefore to allow students to full comprehend how the financial statements disclose the performance and position of a business.
On the completion of this module, students will be able to -Understand the key principles underlying financial accounting with an emphasis on understanding, interpreting and using accounting information.-Critically assess the problems and challenges of preparing financial accounts.-Understand the role of accounting information in business organisations and the key information needs of different stakeholder groups.-Prepare a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement.-Understand the uses and limitation of the information in financial statements.-Employ simple ratio analysis to analyse and interpret accounting information.
Financial statements are prepared to represent the profitability and value of a business and as a consequence provide vital information to owners, managers and other stakeholders about the financial performance and position of a business. The module is therefore designed to support students in understanding how the financial statements identify, measure and communicate information to permit informed judgments and support a wide range of business decisions.
By the end of the module, students will have developed the skills and knowledge needed to record business transactions, make adjustments and prepare a set of final accounts for a business entity.
The nature of the course is practical and applied. The aim will be to apply the techniques and principles of accounting that are learned to different cases in the realm of business operations. The course is taught through a seminar that demonstrate and apply the accounting concepts and their applications to accounting practice. Classroom techniques used will include interactive teaching, group discussions and lectures to provide explanations and enhanced understanding.
No prior knowledge of accounting is assumed.


PLI News and events

Future of Legal Practice Series

During the 2018/2019 academic year, the PLI ran a series of three lectures on the Future of Legal Practice.

These lectures were offered to King’s students and a wider industry audience and were well-received as being insightful, informative and highly relevant for those seeking a professional career in the rapidly evolving legal environment.

The talks explored the way in which the landscape of practice of is changing, focusing in on three topics of central concern, namely: the rise of legal technology; new and emerging roles for lawyers such as Social Finance; innovations in global practice and business entities; and the ascendency of the in-house lawyer.

All three lectures are available to download here.  More lectures are planned for the coming year and will be available for sign-up on this site.  

IBA Conferences

As part of the PLI’s external outreach programme, the PLI team are all active members of the International Bar Association, with Chris Howard as the Treasurer of the IBA’s Academic and Professional Development Committee.  Recent engagements include:

April 2019 – Jo Bingham participated in an IBA panel event at Istanbul University which provided an insight into the life of a lawyer in a modern legal practice for aspiring professionals

October 2018 – Chris Howard attended the annual IBA conference and convened a panel on Pathways to Legal Qualification, as well as co-chairing a day-long APDC conference on The Business of Law at University Roma Tre.