Get organised: preparing for the LPC
Fear not—the course can be more than manageable, as long as you approach it in an organised, level-headed, mature manner. Good organisation is the key. In particular, do all the allocated reading beforehand. Pre-class reading really is essential; there is nothing more frustrating than having only skimmed over the reading and spending a good half an hour in class trying in vain to find the relevant pages in the textbook. This wouldn’t have happened had you actually read the chapter in the first place. Trust me, I know.
Work around your timetable. You could well find yourself juggling 10 different subjects in the first semester. Your timetable will most likely change from week to week. This could make it hard to establish a working routine. The best thing is to plan ahead: look at the classes you’ve got on next week and schedule your work around the classes.
The LPC reading list
Do as much pre-course reading as you can, but don’t worry about revising every last minutiae of what you learnt about contract law in the first week of your degree. A well-rounded knowledge of the basics should suffice. Besides, if you need to know more, you can always revisit your undergraduate notes at a later date (providing you didn’t sacrifice them on a celebratory bonfire after sitting your final LLB exam).
Don’t miss lectures
I rather foolishly decided to skip a few lectures last year, and lo and behold, they turned out to be the most important ones of the course. No matter how dull a lecture may seem, it may consolidate your knowledge, and provide some good notes that you can use as a basis for your revision. Many LPC providers now offer “online” lectures, so you can watch them, or listen to them, when you like and as often as you like. Make the most of this tool: it can help you vary up your study methods and it‘s great to have some respite from the monotony of copying out of textbooks day in, day out.
Organise your notes
It may seem like a menial task at the end of the week, especially when you’ve got stacks of reading to do in preparation for next week’s classes, but if your notes are well-organised and compartmentalised (different folders for different subjects, complete with file dividers), it will really help you when it comes to revision. If not, come Christmas, you’ll find yourself with a tall, wobbly leaning tower of Pisa of loose sheets and you won’t for the life of you remember whether a hurriedly scrawled PA 19-something refers to the Partnership Act or the Patents Act.
Don’t get behind
If you’re ill and miss a class, try and make up for it by attending a different session or at least get decent notes from a reliable peer. Workshops really are the place where the relevance of all your reading starts to click into place. If there’s a gap in your knowledge from where you didn’t attend class, then you’ll be kicking yourself when that very topic turns up on the exam paper and you haven’t a clue how to even begin to answer the question.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Don’t stew in your own misery when you don’t understand something. Often, many people are thinking the same question and will be relieved you’ve asked it. If you’re struggling, the worst you can do is to not admit it and to allow yourself to be swamped by work. Be practical. It will only be worse in the long run if you don’t face up to it and look for help when you need it.
Make the most of your tutors
They are a fountain of all knowledge and ultimately better-placed to advise you than your undergraduate tutors. They will have all worked professionally as solicitors or barristers for a variety of different law firms and so are all well-versed in what you need to know, what looks good on an application form and what will send your application straight into the recycling bin.
Get involved in law extra-curricular activities
Even if you’ve already bagged yourself a training contract, employers will want to see that you’re still engaging in activities outside of the course. Pro bono opportunities aren’t just there to help boost CVs. Often, the more people do outside of the course itself, the more they find themselves able to manage the LPC workload.
Network with your classmates
You may think you’re not going to have time for a social life, but the reality is that you’re likely to be stuck with the same 15 other people for a good 30 hours a week (at least). In a very short space of time, those people will become your best friends.
There will be peaks and troughs to the year. The first term will be the most intense. Not only are you grappling with new subjects and new, less-academic styles of learning, but on top of that you’ve got to learn advocacy and interviewing skills, how to draw up solicitors’ accounts and other practical skills.
Yes, you might find it hard work. But you will get there eventually! Putting your head down and just getting on with it is the best way through. June will be upon you before you know it.
That may be something that doesn’t even register on your radar at the moment. You’re probably expecting the LPC to be rather dry and uninspiring. So was I. However, I was pleasantly surprised once I started the course: I was very interested in what I was leaning.
For the majority of us, it will be the last time we will spend full-time in an educational environment. So enjoy it! Believe me, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.