Dec 16, 2019

Written By Becky Kells

The LPC: your ultimate guide

Dec 16, 2019

Written By Becky Kells

The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is a one-year course completed just before you start your training contract. Unlike the academic law courses such as the LLB or GDL, this one is more vocational—it teaches you how to put what you’ve learned into practice and conduct yourself as a solicitor.

What is the LPC?

The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is the vocational element to your legal training. It’s the last course you complete before your training contract, and it’s designed to prepare you for the world of work as a solicitor. Think less academic legal principles, more dispute resolution and business skills. It takes one year to complete if you study it full time, and two years if you go for a part-time course. 

Who is the LPC suitable for?

To be eligible for the LPC, you should have a qualifying law degree—whether that’s an LLB or a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). The LPC is a requirement for anyone who wants to be a solicitor, so you should also be someone who has figured out what they want to do with their law degree. That said, the LPC isn’t exclusively for solicitors—in fact, many paralegals at top law firms are required to have the LPC too.  

 

If you are a non-law graduate, you’ll need to do your GDL before you start the LPC. 

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What do I study on the LPC?

The LPC consists of compulsory modules, practical skills and a combination of optional electives depending on which course provider you go for. The compulsory modules are:

- Criminal litigation

- Business law and practice

- Property law and practice 

- Civil litigation 

There is also the option to study a variety of elective modules, although these will vary from one institution to the next. If you want to become an employment lawyer, for example, you could select an LPC module in employment law, whereas someone interested in property could explore housing and real estate modules. If you already have a training contract, it’s certainly worth aligning your optional modules with the prominent areas of practice at your future firm. 

When should I do the LPC?

In the running order of law courses, the LPC is pretty set in stone—you can only do it after you’ve done your qualifying law degree, and you have to do it before starting a training contract. However, there are options in how long you take to complete it, and whether you take a break either side of doing it. 

Some people won’t start the LPC until they’ve secured a training contract offer. You apply for training contracts two years in advance, giving you enough time to do the GDL if you need it as well as the LPC. If you decide to go down this route, you might secure a relevant job for a year or so after university, giving you time to work on your training contract applications. 

Other people decide to do the LPC before they’ve secured a training contract. They might commit to it full time, or choose to do it part-time while working. Because training contracts are so competitive, a lot of law graduates opt to work as paralegals (or in other non-billable roles within a firm) and study the LPC part-time with the hope of qualifying after they’ve completed it. 

In short—you do the LPC after graduating your law degree before you do your training contract. The amount of time it takes you, and whether you work alongside it or not, are down to you. 

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How do I pay for the LPC?

This is a sticking point for a lot of people. Both the GDL and LPC are notoriously expensive, and in their most basic forms they don’t meet the criteria for a postgraduate student loan. So how do you fund it? 

Option 1: Apply for training contracts first

This is the recommended method. As mentioned previously, you apply for training contracts two years in advance. If you secure a training contract, the firm offering it will most likely fund and organise the LPC for you (as well as the GDL, if you need it). That means you don’t have to worry about funding options, and can get on with your studies. 

The downside is that training contracts are highly competitive—much more so than the LPC. But with a strong application and some key preparation, it could be your ticket to funding an otherwise very expensive course. 

Option 2: Complete an LLM with an integrated LPC

This is a fairly new option that puts students looking to self-fund in an easier position. A lot of law schools (specialist universities with a specific focus on law courses) have introduced new master of laws programmes that come with an integrated LPC. You’ll study the core modules of the LPC as well as other LLM modules, giving you a full masters degree at the end of it. As with LLMs, these courses are eligible for postgraduate student loans. 

Option 3. Apply for bursaries and scholarships 

If you don’t secure a training contract and decide against an LPC-integrated LLM, there is also the option to self-fund it completely. There are a number of scholarships and bursaries available for LPC students, organised by law schools themselves as well as external sources. Many students combine a number of bursaries and scholarships in order to cover costs. 

But wait, what about the SQE?

You might have heard of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)—a new means of qualifying as a solicitor due to come into play in 2021. If you’re wondering if the SQE will affect the LPC, the answer is yes—but not right away. 

The SQE is ultimately designed to replace the LPC (and GDL) so there is one standard way to qualify, carried out by everyone, whether they studied law or not. But the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)—the body introducing the new exam and course—has said that there will be a lengthy transition period, in which anyone who started off down the old method of qualification (the LPC, GDL or both) will be able to continue in the same way. So the SQE will not immediately invalidate the LPC. 

It’s also worth noting that the SQE has already been delayed once, and there’s new information coming out about it all the time. While it’s very likely that people earlier in their studies will end up completing the SQE, the graduates out there shouldn’t put their plans on hold for it. If you’re in a position to do the LPC now, you should do so.

Where can I study the LPC?

The LPC is available at law schools up and down the country, as well as a select few universities—in particular, universities with a strong focus on postgraduate law are likely to offer the LPC. You can view a range of law schools here. 

How competitive is the LPC?

The LPC is not competitive at all—at most providers, the required grade is a 2.2 or higher. As part of the application, you will need to do a personal statement, explaining what makes you a great candidate for the LPC and why you want to go into law. 

The main competition you’ll face if you’re looking to become a solicitor is in training contract places. Every year, there are far more applicants than there are places, so if you’re going to spend a lot of time and effort on any of your law applications, make it the training contract application! 

When should I apply and how? 

There are a number of different start dates for the LPC, each catering to students with different needs and training contract start dates. As such, there isn’t a strict deadline. Instead, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis with offers being made throughout the academic year. 

If you’re applying for a full-time LPC, you’ll need to apply via the law central applications board (CABs). If you’re applying for a part-time LPC, you’ll go directly via the provider. 

That’s everything you need to know about the LPC! Now all that remains is to start browsing courses. 

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