The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is a compulsory vocational course that must be completed by any aspiring solicitor before they can begin a training contract with a law firm. Most courses use a mixture of learning styles including workshops, group study and lectures. It is also combined with intensive independent study and tutorials. Most assessments are open and closed book, written and oral presentations, and coursework.
It is not the only route to becoming a solicitor. A new ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach has been taken with the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). This will eventually replace the LPC and PGDL. It is essentially a series on examinations taken in 2 stages. To train as a solicitor, the student must hold a degree, pass stages 1 and 2 of the SQE, complete a substantial period of work experience and meet the SRA’s character and suitability requirements.
What is the LPC Like?
The LPC is extremely practical. It ensures that you have a comprehensive understanding of the law. It focuses on legal procedures, the ability to draft legal documents and negotiate effectively. It is more intensive and time-consuming than the LLB, focusing on the practical aspects of being a solicitor.
As part of an institution that provides the LPC, you have access to career support, networking opportunities and links to potential employers. Each institution varies with its offerings of modules but follow a similar structure.
The first part of the LPC focuses on the practical study of:
- Property law and practice
- Litigation (Civil and Criminal)
- Business law and practice
- Solicitors Accounts
- Administration of Estates and Wills
It also involves:
- Legal research
- Legal writing and drafting
- Interviewing and advising
- Professional Conduct and Regulation
You can select three elective modules including:
- Commercial law
- Intellectual property
- Banking and finance
- Family law
- Employment law
In stage 2, a student would typically select modules that they believe will align with their future career prospects. For example, if you were interested in training as a corporate lawyer, you might choose a corporate finance module.
LPC UK Universities
In the UK, more than 30 institutions offer the LPC. The most popular places to study are the University of Law or BBP University. They have campuses across the UK and online courses.
LPC Entry Requirements
Most institutions will expect you to have completed a Qualifying Law Degree, usually at 2:2 or above, or an equivalent qualification. If you did not study a law degree, then a conversion course such as the PGDL would also be required. You may be required to submit a personal statement with your application, including any previous experience you may have and why you have decided to undertake the LPC. You will also be required to provide a reference; this is usually a personal tutor from your undergraduate degree or a previous employer.
How Long Does It Take?
The LPC can be taken full-time to be completed within a year, specifically 10 months. It can be completed within 2 years in a part-time capacity, studying around 22 hours a week. There are options for weekend and evening classes too.
Accelerated courses can be done in 6 months. This is extremely intensive with around 55 hours of studying a week. This is usually an option for students who have already secured a training contract.
Alternatively, an Online LPC can be completed within 1 or 2 years. This is flexible as students can complete it from anywhere in the world. However, they must attend campus at least once during the year.
Unless you are lucky enough to gain sponsorship from a firm, it can set you back around £11,000 with courses in London reaching prices of £16,000. There are cheaper options if you opt for an Online LPC.
There may also be additional costs for learning materials and examinations.
As mentioned above, the LPC can be funded by a law firm if they are willing to sponsor you, on the usual basis that you take an accelerated program and continue a training contract with them afterwards.
Law schools and university departments will occasionally offer grants and scholarships. This will be dependent on certain LPC providers. Studying part-time can also allow you to get a part-time job.
The University of Law have started to offer master’s courses with integrated LPCs. As the government have recently introduced postgraduate loans, this could allow you to gain a master’s degree and qualification within a year.
How And When To Apply?
Applications for almost all institutions that offer the LPC course are managed by the Central Applications Board (CAB). Law undergraduates should apply from September in their final year, whilst non-law students should apply during their PGDL. Applications are handled on a rolling basis meaning that they are dealt with as they are submitted.
- Preparation: your undergraduate degree allowed you to gain the basics of the law. This preparation will provide a useful overview of the key legal theories you may be required to call upon during the LPC.
- Organisation: the course is intensive and if you fall behind in work, it can be hard to consolidate and catch up. Timetables and to-do lists are a great way to stay organised.
- Get involved: one of the most important parts of being a solicitor is having connections. Institutions that offer the LPC provide excellent careers services and networking opportunities – take advantage of them!