If your dream is to become an accomplished solicitor, you’ll need to tackle the unavoidable Legal Practice Course (LPC) once you’ve completed university.
The LPC is a key element of vocational training to become a solicitor. It is an intense and costly route toward achieving your training contract – it’s certainly not guaranteed that you’ll pass if you don’t commit the time and dedication necessary to complete it.
Key changes to note
If you’re considering starting the LPC in 2019, you should know that in 2017 the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced its replacement, with a two-part, centrally managed Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). Many have referred to it as a one-size-fits-all examination.
From 2020, it’s likely the LPC may no longer be offered as widely as it is now. However, the SQE could be delayed for another couple of years, in which case the LPC will still be the only suitable qualification. So it’s important to keep track of any changes regarding this.
What does the LPC involve?
The LPC course is currently broken down in to two parts. Most courses will include a range of workshops, lectures and private study. This is often combined with online tests and tutorials. At times, you could also be assessed in class, through open and closed book knowledge assessments, written assignments, oral presentations and coursework.
Covering three core practice areas of law. Every solicitor will need the below skills to do their job – this stage is an excellent foundation for your future career as a solicitor.
- Business law and practice
- Litigation (civil & criminal)
- Property law and practice.
You will also learn additional skills, including:
- Advising and advocacy
- Practical legal research
- Writing and drafting.
Other areas include:
- Professional conduct and regulation
- Solicitors’ accounts
- Wills and administration of estates.
Made up of 3 vocational electives from a larger list of options, including choices for those heading to City firms. Electives are placed in separate groups from at least two of the groups (which could differ between each institution). This stage allows students to specialise toward specific areas of the law, and the firms you want to apply to in the long term.
- Private acquisitions
- Public companies
The electives will range of other choices relevant to small and medium-sized firms too. For example, commercial property, commercial law and employment, family, immigration and welfare law, acquisitions and mergers, advanced criminal practice.
Stage one must be studied with a single course provider, whereas stage two can be studied with more than one authorised provider.
Want a real insight in to what your LPC might look like? Take a look at this ‘day in the life’ video below by Eve Cornwell.
How long does it take to complete the LPC?
Most LPC course will start in September, and will vary in length depending on where you study – in particular, it varies if you plan on studying full-time or part-time.The electives however, can be taken over a longer period, studied together or separately.
Full-time courses: 1 year (generally to complete)
Part-time courses: 2 years (generally to complete)
Where can I study?
You may have already been instructed where to do your training if you’ve been offered a training contract.
Not secured a training contract yet? There are more than 30 institutions in England and Wales that offer the LPC is a variety of forms – you can study a similar qualification in Scotland. The Scottish equivalent is the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, and follows the same principles as the LPC.
To research which course will be right for you and your commitments, take a look at the Solicitor Regulations Authority’s list of approved LPC providers.
How can I tell which LPC provider is right for me?
Research institutions before you select which one to study your LPC with. Look in to reputation costs of the course, electives on offer and how the course is taught. If you have a particular firm in mind, you might wish to find out which universities their last intake came from. Generally though, firms will operate an equal opportunities policy, so where you’ve studied shouldn’t matter if you tick the right boxes.
How much does the LPC cost?
An LPC is a big financial commitment. Find a course that suits both your finances and your preferred career path. In 2017, the average cost of an LPC was £11,550, but there are cheaper and more expensive institutions.
While the above may seem daunting, there are a variety of options you can pursue to help with funding:
- Diversity Access Scheme: The Law Society runs a scholarship scheme for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Employment: If you can’t get funding via any of the other options, you might want to apply for a part-time LPC and work while studying.
- Postgraduate loan: If you study the LPC with an LLM, you might be eligible for a postgraduate loan from the UK government.
- Scholarship: Many university law departments offer scholarships.
- Sponsorship: If you’ve secured a training contract in advance of your application, your new employer may sponsor you through the course.
When can I apply for the LPC?
Most students start the LPC before securing a training contract, and then secure one during the course or post-graduation.
You can see what training contracts are available here.
Applications for full-time courses go through the Central Applications Board (CAB) from September onwards. If you’re a prospective part-time student, you can apply directly to your chosen provider.
Each institution will have its own admissions procedure, so be sure to check individual providers for course start dates and deadlines for applications. Generally, there is no closing date and applications are processed as they’re submitted, but we would urge you to check this.
Going through the CAB you can rank three choices of law school. There are no interviews, so your success will be down to the application form.
Applications are only released to course providers once the form has been submitted, references received and the £15 application fee paid.
Note: You no longer have to enrol (if you’re a student) with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). If you do have any issues though, you need to apply to the SRA at least six months before you begin your training, as they do require disclosure of issues relating to your character and suitability prior to starting your training contract.