What is the LPC?
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is the penultimate phase of preparation to begin a career as a solicitor in England and Wales.
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is the most vital stage of your preparation as a future solicitor. It covers the movement of an individual from a graduate student at university to a lawyer-in-training, perhaps the most critical part of the process in creating a new lawyer, and is taken between completion of a graduate degree and/or earning a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL or law conversion), on one side, and the beginning of a training contract on the other.
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) can be studied as a full-time course for a period of one year, or as a part-time course over a period of two years. The Legal Practice Course (LPC) programme is the successor to what was earlier the entry-ticket to a legal career – the Law Society Finals – which was a less extensive training programme following an outdated framework of study.
"it is preferable to pick those subjects that match the areas of practice of the the law firms you are applying to..."
Students who have completed an undergraduate degree in law and students with a degree in a non-law discipline who have completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) are eligible to enrol for the Legal Practice Course (LPC). The Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) sets some pre-conditions to be fulfilled before one can apply for the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
The Training Regulations 1990, issued by the Law Society, require that individuals who wish to qualify as solicitors meet the following two conditions prior to applying for the Legal Practice Course (LPC): (a) be enrolled as a student member of the Law Society; (b) have received a Certificate of Completion of the Academic Stage of Legal Education.
If the degree was completed at an institution different from the one initially enrolled in, or was completed in a year not matching the first enrolment year, then all transcripts of completed studies should also be sent along with the student enrolment form.
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) syllabus can be broadly classified into four phases of learning. These are (a) Core foundational subjects; (b) compulsory subjects; (c) optional subjects; and (d) practical skills. Core subjects will cover professional conduct & client care, also referred to as ethics; specific verbal and written skills in advocacy, documentation, advisory procedures, drafting and research; taxation, trusts and tax planning; European Union laws and principles, and probate & administration of estates.
Compulsory subjects include ‘black letter’ or substantive law, legal procedures and regulations, and practical skills. Particular subjects which are crucial to gaining expertise are conveyancing, business law & practice and advocacy & litigation. These subjects are usually covered in a periodic cycle, where each of the three subjects will be taken up individually for a period of ten or so weeks.
Optional subjects cover areas of law which may or may not be the precursors to future specialisation at a law firm, but help in providing a broader level of understanding of the various continuously evolving segments of legal practice. Legal Practice Course (LPC) students should complete a minimum of two optional subjects, the classes for which are held in the final term of the course.
Here, it is important to remember that at this point in time you will be looking at prospective training contracts and it is preferable to pick those subjects that match the areas of practice of the the law firms you are applying to. Some of the numerous subjects which are available for optional study are construction & property law, commercial law, employment, community welfare, criminal law, finance law and family law.
Practical skills covered in the Legal Practice Course (LPC) are research, interviewing techniques, drafting, negotiations and advocacy. Methods of instruction and practical training will differ among various providers, but will essentially be an assortment of classroom lectures, tutorials, seminars, project work, on-line study methods, group discussions and case studies. Common methods are long examinations, short multiple choice testing and face-to-face and group assessments.
Students should undertake detailed research prior to embarking on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) since there are numerous institutions that provide the course.
Your important considerations should be location – regional vs. City providers, the degree of practical training imparted, in-house facilities, business affiliations with law firms and other related entities, future placement potential and the general standing of the selected provider among peers, former students, the market and professionals.
For more information on the individual law schools, go to our ‘Course’ section.
The Application process
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) application framework is facilitated by the Central Applications Board (CAB) only for full-time courses, while applications for part-time courses should be made directly to the institutions offering such programmes. Application forms and the enrolment timetable can be found at www.lawcabs.ac.uk.