The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is the penultimate phase of preparation for a career as a solicitor in England and Wales.
This mandatory course for those who wish to become solicitors is taken after completion of an LLB degree or the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). It 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. You will only be able to begin a training contract with a law firm when you have completed the LPC.
Who is eligible for the LPC?
Students who have completed an undergraduate degree in law or the 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 LPC:
1. You must have enrolled as a student member of the Law Society.
2. You must have received a Certificate of Completion of the Academic Stage of Legal Education.
If your degree was completed at an institution different from the one at which you had initially enrolled, or was completed in a year not matching the first enrolment year, then all transcripts of your completed studies should also be sent along with the student enrolment form.
LPC course content
The LPC syllabus can be broadly classified into four phases of learning. These are:
- Core foundational subjects
- Compulsory subjects
- Optional subjects
- Practical skills.
Core subjects will cover professional conduct and 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 and administration of estates.
Compulsory LPC modules
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 and practice and advocacy and 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 LPC modules
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. LPC students should complete a minimum of two optional subjects, the classes for which are held in the final term of the course.
Thinking about training contracts
It’s 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 law firms you are applying to. Some of the numerous subjects which are available for optional study are construction and property law, commercial law, employment, community welfare, criminal law, finance law and family law.
Practical skills covered in the 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.
The LPC application process
The LPC application framework is facilitated by the Central Applications Board (CAB) for full-time courses. Applications for part-time LPC courses should be made directly to the institutions offering such programmes.