What does the LPC not teach you?

Having not started my training contract (“TC”) yet (countdown to Sept 2017) most of this post is based on what friends have told me about starting their training contracts and how different it is compared to the LPC version. Although to a certain degree, the LPC does not really prepare you for training contract applications, paralegal work or being a trainee. The LPC has one massive area of failing in that it does not offer, genuine preparation for finding a training contract. So essentially a pretty massive flaw.

We all know the LPC (University and the GDL too if these are relevant to you) are not cheap. So it is incredibly frustrating when you come to find yourself competing against thousands of others all in the same position straight out of law school.

I feel incredibly strongly about paying for what you get; the LPC is not value for money in any shape or form. I was unfortunate enough to secure my TC after my LPC had just finished so did not get funding or back-pay (some students who secure their TC’s while still at law school are given the amount paid in addition to the amount outstanding, this varies per firm but is worth looking into if you have already started your GDL or LPC).

I think it is fair to say for the money the LPC costs, it should do a much better job at preparing individuals for the inevitable TC application process and the eventual training contract position.

A massive part of large city law firm applications (it is not a secret) are the psychometric, verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests. This begs the questions, why are there not practice tests included in the LPC’s extortionate fees? Why do law schools not teach you the method and what is desired by a first class law student in these tests?

I am not suggesting each law school spoon feeds each student or gives away the answers; however, I went through numerous tests from personal experience (having successfully completed my undergraduate degree, GDL and LPC) with no real understanding of what these tests were for or how to complete them to a high standard. It is hard to take a test seriously if you do not know what the end result should look like. How are you supposed to visualise this goal?

Also, as an aside can someone please explain the rationale between some of the questions asked and how knowing these answers can make you a better lawyer compared to someone with the same degree and LPC qualifications who gets this wrong?

The LPC does not explain to future lawyers the importance of building client relationships or the importance of winning client work (ultimately clients mean work and work means business. These in turn correlate to profit and business development with hard work). Softer skills matter and should not be overlooked, yet not once was this mentioned during my course.

Ultimately, law schools are not teaching students the practical business skills needed to answer training contract interview questions well or to practice law in today’s economy and ever changing legal marketplace. This ties in to my next point, Law firms need to recognise the importance of academia and positive results but also should offer adequate support systems for students receiving inevitable rejection letters.

Until the above concerns are sorted out there will continue to be a lot of LPC students struggling to gain training contracts and spending a lot of money pursuing legal careers before going down alternative paths. There is a bottle neck appearing which has consequences for the development of a diverse and socially representative profession, as expensive course fees and limited training contracts discourage students from poorer backgrounds. (The commercial world’s outlook is not a kind one for future trainees).

Rather than just buying into the LPC club…LPC providers owe it to students to be more open to students about the chances of successfully attaining a training contract.

LLM

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Legal Practice Course Information

With the induction week of the LPC out the way and the real deal looming ahead I thought this Monday (Day one) was the perfect day to stretch my blogging fingers again.

You have by this point survived either a law degree or the GDL! Congratulations!

Personally, I preferred the LPC by a huge amount in comparison to the GDL so the only way is up as far as I am concerned. You begin to see the realities of trainee tasks and the practicalities of being a lawyer; therefore, answer structures and fact patterns stuck in my long-term memory bank more than anything on the GDL.

What is the LPC?

The Legal Practice Course (“LPC”) is the next step after your law undergraduate degree or GDL (if you studied a degree other than law). It is the compulsory section of training which prepares you in advance of your training contract. Bringing you one step closer to becoming a lawyer.

The institutions offering the LPC can be found on the SRA’s website.

How long does it take to complete?

From start to finish it is a one-year, full-time (or two years part-time) course. Normally start dates are September or January of each year.

What are compulsory and elective modules?

The course is split into halves, separating the compulsory subjects (stage 1) from the optional electives (stage 2).

  • Stage 1 – which covers the three essential practice areas of Business Law and Practice, Property Law and Practice and Litigation, together with the Course Skills, Professional Conduct and Regulation, Taxation and Wills and Administration of Estates
    • These months also teach softer practical skills (advocacy, interviewing and advising, writing, drafting and a research project).
  • Stage 2 – which is made up of three Vocational Electives.
    • Some courses will try to deter students from specialisation at this early stage. The ability to provide as broad base as possible from which to enter a training contract is important; however, this may be dependent on your training contract and what areas interest you most. Try to think of electives that complement each other well.
    • Training contracts will have different conditions attached and some larger city firms will expect you to take certain modules based on their seat rotation choices. Many will instruct you to sit the “city three” normally comprising of debt finance, equity finance and private acquisitions.

Are there time limits attached to the LPC?

No. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has made amendments to the Training Regulations as part of its proposal to simplify a number of processes and regulations. It is no longer the case that a Qualifying Law Degree, Graduate Diploma in Law or a Common Professional Examination expires after seven years for entry to the Legal Practice Course. If the SRA is satisfied that you have satisfactorily completed the academic stage you will be issued with a certificate stating that you have completed the academic stage of training, allowing you to undertake the LPC.

See the law society’s guide to starting out as a solicitor for mature students and career changers

Are there any useful extra curricular activities?

These are dependent on the law school but you can enquire at the careers office or with admissions. Extra curricular activities are a good way to show your commitment to gaining a training contract (if you do not have one at this stage) and also prove your ability to effectively manage your time. Socials and sports teams also extend your reach to meeting more solicitors-to-be, friends and legal network.

  • Student-staff committees;
  • Student socials;
  • Sports teams; and
  • Pro-bono work.

My advice would be to pick a couple of these options only and do these well rather than spreading yourself too thin.

Do you have to do the pre-course reading?

Being brutally honest I turned up with mine still in the wrapper. BUT- I would not recommend this approach. Really there is not that much and a quick skim over the basics and highlight anything that seems important in highlighter and underline anything you are unsure of in pencil is a good approach to take. This way you can quickly identify areas to ask questions on in your first seminar but also you can have a quick Google of the new legal blurb (recommend picking up a legal dictionary too).

Tell me more…My experience…

The first stage is the most time consuming and can be intense. You are thrown in at the deep end, you need to digest several new subjects and learning styles. In my first seminar we had to stick our hands in the air if we studied an arts degree at undergrad level (I studied History and so raised my hand), we were told to forget our waffling introductions and perfectly fashioned essay styles immediately or suffer the consequences… A rather severe tutor informed us that Law was blunt, to the point based on facts and evidence. Clients wanted to know their options and ultimately the best/worst case scenario. Why waffle about peripheral areas of the law; it was a waste of time and resources. On top of the legal modules you have to be confident in advocacy and interviewing skills, solicitors’ accounts and other skill based exercises.

The second stage is lighter and electives are really interesting in comparison to stage one which can at times feel like a SRA tick the box exercise. You will have peaks and troughs of interest and enjoyment but your seminar group and fellow LPC’ers will help you through – I think it helps to find a great group to study with especially when it came to mock interviews etc.

Overall, try to enjoy the experience and gain as much from it as possible.

I worked during the GDL and LPC and will include a blog post on the realities of this soon.

LLM

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