Duncan Gibbins Academy interviewed Beth Brown who works for The College of Law (LPC provider) as a Careers Manager at their Chester base. We asked her what students could expect from the LPC and what advice she had for students who were considering taking the course at the College of Law.
Q&A With The College of Law Discussing The Legal Practice Course (LPC)
Q. What can students expect when they study the LPC?A. College of Law is one of several organisations that offer LPC tuition. The LPC is regulated by the SRA Solicitors regulatory Authority and The College of law, where I work, is just one of several LPC providers. An informative site is Target Law which will outline the differentials such as elective choices and costs. It is also worth finding out about the additional support you will get, from such sources as the Careers service.
The main difference between a law degree and an LPC is how you will be taught. We try to use a combination of online lectures, i-tutorials, tests and feedback, reading (our exams are open book so students annotate their books) and a workshop which we deliver in groups of 20 which we subdivide into fours or fives when students are asked to problem solve.
The course is split into two semesters: compulsory semester (Studying Litigation –Civil and Criminal, Business and Land law) and the elective semester where at the College of Law you have a choice of 14 topics.
Q. Can the LPC be taken part time?A. Yes – at The College of law you can study either at the weekend or day release mode and some centres even offer evening based part time LPC and accelerated courses.
We also offer an S mode route which is completely online, with a dedicated personal tutor to supervise.There are advantages of studying part time as you earn whilst you learn and transfer your experience from working in law to the classroom and from the classroom to your law job, however this will take up to two years to complete.
Some firms will offer part time study contracts – which means you can simultaneously study and complete your Training Contract – undertaking 2 years on LPC whilst working as a trainee solicitor.
You can find out more by checking out our online Future Lawyers Network – Steps 1-3 are open to everyone and include planning your legal Career.
BUT you can also study the course full time over two days a week, undertake four workshops and then choose to do the rest of the work at a time to suit you at home – so studying the LPC is a real possibility for anyone.
Q. Why study at the College of Law instead of University?A. You should visit several providers and decide for yourself as the course content is heavily controlled by the SRA (Solicitors Regulatory Authority) so you need to look at the course differentials – these can vary from Library and IT facilities, ‘the feel’ of the place, costs to job statistics and even how close to home it is for commuting and living cheaply.
It is your choice and every student decides on slightly different criteria.
We also offer three modes – the first is a commercial route for those wanting to work in a Commercial firm. The second is a combined commercial and private route which is a broad ranging mode and one most students chose as they can safely apply to either larger or high street firms without looking committed to just one type or size of firm. Finally we also offer a Legal Aid route for those wanting to work for social justice.
The only pitch I will make for the College of Law is all of our tutors are qualified lawyers and can thus relate to practical examples and factors like The Careers Service and its experience – I have been here 19 years and many of the partners in Law firms have asked me the same questions as you have raised!
Q. What criteria do students have to meet in order to be accepted by the College of Law?A. I am not involved in admissions but I understand much is based on your motivation to be a lawyer.
Make sure you visit our website or talk to admissions and obviously come and talk to us at Open days or Centre visits.
Q. Why should students study the LPC over the CILEx route?A. They are both valid but different routes and can end up in the same place!
CILExmeans you specialise by getting a job in a specific area of law and then you train and your training is broad but related to that area of law –when you have completed the course and become a FILEX you can take the LPC and miss out on the training contract although it may take longer to complete.The LPC and then Training Contract is broader. You study the Compulsory exams and then choose three electives followed by a Training Contract which must cover at least three areas of law (one of which must be contentious and one non contentious) – many firms will train you in four to six areas of Law.The advantage of this is if you want to move areas of Law you have experience in several areas to fall back on.
Q. How does the LPC differ to the law degree?A. The LPC is a ‘skills’ based course where you learn how to apply the law you learnt on your degree – clients don’t want the law they want a legal solution to their problem.
Q. How does the LPC prepare a student for life at a law firm?A. We teach in workshops of 20 and subdivide these into small groups of four to five students. Your examples are ‘real’ cases and we expect you to work as a team to solve them and you are taught here by practitioners
Q. What advice would you give students who are considering undertaking the LPC?A. Visit providers – as many as you can and assess your employability. Get legal and other work experience and consider your skill set – what are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
Consider your finances and finally decide how much you want to be a lawyer –some law students’ drift onto the LPC as they can’t decide what else to do.
Use your university careers service – talk to the law specialist adviser – 60% of law students don’t become lawyers and there are nearly 100 different types of job you can do with ‘a degree in any discipline’ and law is a target degree for many of them.
Do the LPC because you know what it involves and it is what you want to do and would be good at- not just because you have a law degree and don’t know what else to do!
Q. Do you think that the LPC is something that students should be considering given the current job market for trainee solicitors?A. The answer is yes if you want to study the LPC and become a lawyer but only if you have thought about it and researched it thoroughly – in fact the job market is picking up; there has been about a 10% increase in training contracts and I have noticed a distinct increase in jobs generally.
I worked here in the last recession and when it came to an end I had more jobs than students. Since the New Year I have had several 2013 (and some 2012) start date vacancies for corporate firms and if I am honest the ‘high street’ market never went away – they may only offer a paralegal role to start but for many students this gives the experiences and skill set to apply to other places successfully or to prove themselves in that firm.
The Recession is not just hurting law jobs and courses – any graduate jobs are tough to get but don’t hide from a decision by doing the LPC without finding out about yourself and the profession.
Q. Do you think that LPC providers have a responsibility to cap the numbers taking the course?A. This is a difficult one to answer because if you decide to cap the places how do you choose ‘who will be successful’ both on the course and as a lawyer.
Many students don’t enjoy their law degree or following ‘Black letter’ law and yet love the practical skills based training in the LPC and do very well on the course.
Also Law as a career is about dealing with clients and their problems – you may have a first from Oxbridge or another Redbrick university but have no ‘people skills’ or ‘commercial awareness’
You could have a 2.2 and have both – even partners in law firms privately agree when selecting for training contracts that they do reject good candidates, which is why the paralegal route and working and learning has been so successful for some students.
Going forward the Bar Council and SRA are conducting research on legal education and training in all its phases calling it Review 2020.
The above answers are Beth Brown’s own views and do not necessarily reflect those of the College of Law.
Studying LPC at the College of Law – Your Questions Answered
DG Academy opened up further questions to our twitter followers who tweeted us queries that they had. We will be publishing those question and answers with Beth Brown in the next few days so keep an eye out for part 2 of our LPC Q&A.
If you have any comments on this article please tweet us at @DG_Academy or write to us on our Facebook Page.
If you are still unsure whether to take the LPC take a minute to watch our video featuring our paralegals and trainee solicitors who discuss what to expect on the LPC.
If you would like to write an opinion piece regarding the LPC then please email Beth Nunnington at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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