I went on a course yesterday. Are courses of any use? Discuss. Depends on the course I suppose but work related ones aren’t always fit for purpose.

As a solicitor, I have to ensure that I keep my cutting edge, razor sharp, up to the minute intellect totally on message by demonstrating, through the collection of Continuing Professional Development points, that I have attended relevant courses. So I do attend courses. I’m not sure what would happen if I didn’t. The Law Society would probably come after me with a big dog and some kind of gun or take away my practising certificate ( which is more likely.)

Actually, yesterday’s course – “An Update on Employment Law” – which had a selection of eminent speakers and some mighty fine Danish pastries, was quite useful and enjoyable. I got to sit and chat to my boss/mate as we drove there and, as you know, I don’t get out much.

When I had a real job I had mixed feelings about courses. At the beginning, when I was fresh faced, excited and eager to learn, I lapped them up. And this was the nineties. There was a course for everything. Law, team building, (my boss was always too busy), time management (my boss was always too busy), health and safety, key board skills. You name it, we wasted money on it.

Sometimes we had to go in a big gaggle to London on the train and that was seriously good fun. Twice a year they sent us on a residential course which could have been more aptly named ” Who can behave really badly on the first night, miss most of the lectures because they can’t cope with confined spaces and the smell of breakfast and then slink off early because they had a better offer?” Obviously I never behaved like that. I was a model student.

Then I grew older and wiser and the point of courses started to slip passed me. I was far less willing to give up my own time. Courses need to be in the office, in working hours and not too long or I would find a suitable excuse.

After I had children and worked four days a week, courses became the bane of my life. “I want the whole team to attend the Employment Lawyers Association training session on some esoteric and totally irrelevant point of law so that I can show my competitors just have much strength in depth I have and how dedicated and controlled my team are.”

My boss never actually put it quite like that but his meaning was clear. I was the only girl in my team and the only parent. Try mentioning that nursery closes at 6.30 and if I don’t leave bang on 5.30 I have no hope of retrieving my children for the night. Not to be recommended. When it got to the point that I was going to the courses, massively over compensating for my part time capacity and my male colleagues were sitting at their desks to make up for wandering around looking important during the working day, I left.

I looked around the room yesterday. Not one of them had a job like mine and I don’t think anyone except me truly wanted to be there. And I listened and I learned some new stuff and had old stuff confirmed and I came away tired but satisfied in the full knowledge that I will have forgotten it all by next week and will have to look it up if anyone asks me. But at least I have my CPD points.