Post-LLB: applying for the LPC vs a training contract

At present, all trainees in the UK need to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC), and there is no way around it. The decision on when to complete the LPC, however, is up to the student.

  • Last updated Sep 20, 2019 10:09:59 AM
  • Jan Hill

Many law students ask themselves: “Should I apply for the LPC directly out of university, or should I apply for a training contract in the hope that the firm will fund my LPC?”

Here are some pros and cons to each approach, as well as an update on the current qualification system.

Academic concerns

Those pursuing a law degree are eligible to apply for a training contract in their penultimate year of university. As long as your law degree is a qualifying law degree, or LLB, you’ll be able to apply for training contracts right away, and training contract offers tend to be issued throughout the final year of university. 

Law students are able to apply for a training contract in advance of completing their LPC, and many law firms recruit two years ahead of time, giving trainees plenty of time to complete the LPC after they’ve got a training contract in place. 

Practical realities

The main point of the LPC is to obtain a training contract, and because the competition for training contracts is extremely intense, applying directly out of university can be a logical move to make. 

Taking the LPC before having secured a training contract is a risk—under the current system, there are many more LPC places than there are training contracts—but many candidates choose to take that risk every year. It can be a gamble well worth taking, provided you are a strong enough candidate to get a training contract and you meet the academic requirements of the particular firm.

Financial considerations

With some LPC course fees running in excess of £16,000, it can make sense to apply for a training contract first in the hope that your firm will cover the cost. You can’t start the training contract until you’ve completed the LPC, but many law firms will fund the LPC if they offer you a training contract before you’ve finished it.

The new Solicitors Qualification Examination (SQE) will start to be rolled out in September 2021, with the aim of replacing the present qualification system eventually. This will eliminate the obligation to complete the LPC. 

Additionally, trainee solicitors will no longer be required to complete training contracts. Instead, they will need to perform a minimum of two years of “qualifying legal work experience.” This work experience can be covered by as many as four different providers, including universities, and paralegal work will also count towards the requirement. 

The SQE will replace the requirement to complete a qualifying law degree and an LPC, instead requiring a degree or equivalent qualification and a substantial period of work experience. The exam will assess core knowledge and allow law firms and universities to design their own specialist training. 

If you’re currently deciding whether to start your LPC, or wait to see if you get a training-contract offer, it’s worth bearing in mind that this won’t be the only way to qualify for much longer. There’s not enough information on the SQE yet to consider it a serious factor in your decision, but it can help to know that it’s on the horizon. 

Next article: Post LLB: taking a gap year after graduating

If you're currently on the hunt for a Training Contract or Vacation Scheme, head over to our Law Jobs section.

More like this

  • Post-LLB: taking a gap year after graduating Kerry Holmes

    If you graduate without a training contract, you can use your time to gain experience and explore other options to get your career on track.


  • Commercial awareness in final yearDavid Carnes

    Now that you have made it to your penultimate year, aim to finish strong. Every effort you make this year relating to commercial awareness and professional development should be considered in light of the fact that your performance in interviews and over the course of your training contract could make or break your career. Proceed carefully and methodically—and with all due haste.

  • Coping with stress in the final yearJan Hill and Anna Vall Navés

    The final year of a law degree is typically a stressful one. Between juggling multiple final exams, writing a dissertation, preparing mentally for postgraduate life and transitioning from university to their career, law students nearing the end of their education often find themselves under a great deal of mental pressure.

  • LLB Law DissertationBy Billy Sexton

    So, you've picked your final modules, consolidated your favourite library seat, and are finally feeling like a big fish in the university pond. But you've got one more challenge on the horizon—the dissertation... 

  • LLB final year: what you should be doingBy Billy Sexton and Anna Vall Navés

    The final year of a law degree is a busy time! From training contracts to societies, here are some of the most important things you should be doing to make the most of the year.

Recruiting? We can help