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

xx

Claim back your Lunch Hour

Often work can pile up and up and the sky’s the limit for paper if you are working in a transactional department or a department such as Pensions/Employment or Dispute Resolution. I am not so sure if we really are working towards a paperless/ contactless world after all when I look around the different offices (they happened to be all glass and sometimes it feels like Suits has met the Crystal Maze). My point being, sometimes in the legal landscape you cannot swan off for a leisurely hour lunch.

BUT…

Something I learnt studying for years on years- I know I am one of those people which need to recharge my batteries and really benefit from small breaks.

On my first day at work, I was encouraged to take “screen breaks” and “my lunch hour”. Being a paralegal I have the benefit of going under the radar at times which I am sure trainees and associates do not (although its remarkable the number of fellow regulars in the coffee bar downstairs everyday that meet my gaze).

So if you can, please try and move away from sandwiches and a quick lunch at your desk while reading over an agreement or scanning through a draft. It really makes sense to regain your power hour!

The possibilities are endless but here are ten suggestions:

  1. Explore- Go outside. Do you know what there is to see near your office?  (local markets, concert halls, new brunch spots, graffiti art, pop-ups, galleries, gyms, yoga studio with a free trial, bakeries and more)
  2. Food Markets- Amazing flavours and spice combinations that are only a short walk away. You cannot pack into your lunchbox a hot pad thai or a spicy burrito. This make a great change from eating the same thing everyday and breaks up the monotony. I enjoy my walk there and back too. I understand that lunchbreaks can get expensive especially for those of us just starting out. I try to be sensible and bring pack lunches in or shop locally in bulk. However, a Friday treat or payday treat at the market is always a highlight.
  3. Fitness- I have lucky enough to have a subsidised gym membership through work and will sometimes pop over for a quick class (especially recommend the core class- a bonus being it is 20minutes and leaves time still to pop to the market after see. point 2 above).  If this is not your thing there are tough mudder classes, spinning, boxing, yoga/pilates and more. Alternatively, if its sunny go for a run and sweat out the morning’s stress- you are never too far from the Thames towpath or Regent’s canal etc.
  4. Be cultural- The weekends can often get filled before you know it and you end up living in London without every seeing any of its amazing art. See what exhibitions and galleries are located on your doorstep.
  5. Shopping- Whether this is for food (meal prep for the week) or for clothes/ beauty items/ friend’s birthday presents or other. This is your hour to do with as you please and it leaves the weekends free for more fun and frivolity.
  6. Volunteer- I recently registered to read with a child at a local school one lunch hour a week through our firm’s learning and development team. I found the overall experience to be very rewarding; such a small amount of my time was really useful to another. Find out about your firm’s corporate social responsibility opportunities or enquire via your local council/ do a quick Google search.
  7. Life admin- It sounds boring but every week or if that slips at least once per fortnight I try and have one lunch break sorting the mayhem out. This can include going to the post office, buying birthday cards, dropping dry-clean only work clothes to the dry cleaners/ collecting newly pressed items (dry-clean only items really are irritating but as the nicer items they tend to be handled with care for fear of crumpling it if I DIY clean it- this has been known).
  8. Team bonding- Once a week (weather dependent) I play in the firm’s netball team, which involves a few of us from different teams all training together. This has been a fantastic means of developing friends in other areas of the firm including professional support lawyers, secretaries, associates, technology team members, paralegals and trainees.
  9. Network- lunch with different people, colleagues, friends and you will be surprised what invitations follow. It never hurts to widen your contact base. Also, if its ridiculously painful and you wish the tacos with an old law friend from the LPC could be over after 15minutes of being there you already have the perfect excuse- that transaction at work cannot wait for you and your needed!
  10. If you run out of ideas… phone a friend (while strolling through the city, park or west-end).

Try something different and maybe rope in a few colleagues to adventure with you.

LLM

xx