You’ve completed your law degree and along the way you decided you would like to become a solicitor. The first step on that journey, after the qualifying law degree, is to complete the Legal Practice Course commonly known as the LPC. Many universities in England offer the LPC but the most renowned ones are University of Law and BPP Law school. This is due to the fact that some law firms sponsor the LPC for trainees and their preferred schools are either BPP or University of Law.
Applying for the LPC is not complicated. Unlike applying to university for an undergraduate course where the stakes are higher on whether your firm or insurance choice will take you or you will have to go through clearing, here your most likely guaranteed offers from all the options you choose as long as you have at least a 2:2. You will need a personal statement and two references in addition to your law degree transcript and certificate.
All universities will have the same or similar core/compulsory modules. These modules are; Business Law and Practice, Real Estate Law and Practice, Dispute Resolution and Introduction to Professional Practice which basically consists of a lot of other modules within (most of which are pass/fail).
Business Law deals with businesses and shareholders. Those who did commercial and company law at undergraduate level will find a few concepts similar. However, if you didn’t do commercial or company law, you shouldn’t be worried as you’ll be taught everything you need to know in order to excel in it. Real Estate also referred to as Property Law is in my opinion a simpler version of Land Law and deals with the procedure for buying and selling property. Dispute Resolution consists of Civil Litigation and Criminal Litigation. Finally, Introduction to Professional Practice has a variety of modules within it. These include; Advocacy, Legal Writing, Drafting, Interviewing, Legal Research, Wills, Solicitors’ Accounts, and Professional Conduct. The pass mark is 50% and you will spend half the time of your LPC doing these modules.
After completing the compulsory modules, you’ll have the choice to pick three elective modules or four if you are undertaking the LPC with an integrated Masters. In my opinion when picking these modules, it’s important to consider these three factors in no particular order; firstly, what subjects you will enjoy learning, secondly, the area of law you would want to specialize or work in and finally, which electives will you most likely pass (with high grades).
I found the LPC modules very interesting because we were learning and gaining practical legal knowledge such as drafting leases, amending contracts, looking up land titles, filling in forms like particulars of claims and claim form for civil dispute issues, reviewing company meeting minutes to ensure they comply with the Company’s Act, among others. The entire course was more practical in nature than undergraduate level, and the problem questions asked in exams and during workshops are set in a way that is as close as possible to how you would encounter them in practice.
To Undertake the Masters along with the LPC
I chose to undertake the Masters with the LPC and the majority of people I knew in my year also did the same. Pursuing a Masters along with the LPC requires one to take one extra module plus a research essay where you submit a written report and an oral presentation defending and explaining your report. I would advise anyone doing the LPC to take the Masters due to the following reasons; i) It’s essentially a two for one price deal and ii) You get an extra award plus the opportunity to learn an extra module which you like/enjoy. Moreover, at university of Law we had the option of removing the Master’s part of the qualification if you failed one of the four electives you had picked earlier. This meant that the University would only take the three electives you passed and give you the LPC award only.
The type of Masters offered varies at each University. At University of Law it was an MSc in business and law and an LLM in Professional Legal Practice.
However, it’s important to note that pursuing a Masters with the LPC will increase your work load because you will be working on the research essay and four electives instead of the three (without the masters).
The LPC can be done full time or part time while undertaking full time work or part time work or without work. This decision should be based entirely on individual circumstances and strengths. Working while undertaking the LPC offers a great opportunity to develop transferable skills, and enhance your CV which will be more impressive to employers, especially if you graduate with high grades (see Moses’ post on the importance of work experience here). On the other hand, the LPC is intense and stressful thus combing it with work could affect your grades.
At University of Law we are told to bring a suitcase (cabin size one) on our first day. This is because we are given all necessary text books on this day, and the text books are heavy yet you have to walk around with them the whole day so the suitcase will be helpful.
I found the LPC to be intense but manageable. It’s possible to achieve a Distinction or a Commendation if you work hard and stay on top of all the assignments. (Attaining a Pass is not an option here if you intend to get a training contract at a reasonable law firm). The biggest difference was having more assignments and tasks to do before each class. There are no big lectures for every class like at undergrad university. It’s mainly small workshop/tutorial/seminar groups where everyone is expected to participate. You’ll get picked to give your thoughts and views so you must do the assignments given to be able to participate confidently.
At University of Law we had three tasks for each class: there was the preparatory task to be done before each workshop, the workshop tasks which was done during the workshop and the consolidation task which is to be done at home after each workshop to consolidate your learning.
My advice on acing the LPC is to make sure you do these tasks in addition to the recommended reading because exam questions will be similar to the questions set in these tasks. It’s very important to do all the required readings!! I know you’ve all probably heard this phrase a lot especially during the LLB Law degree and I want to stress it here again. On the LPC if you don’t do the required reading, before the workshop it will be harder to catch up later when exams come around. On a brighter note, I found the reading to be easier and more interesting than the ones we had during undergraduate.
LPC exams are set differently, they are problem questions and MCQs. The problem questions are based on a fictional client but the way to answer the questions also greatly differs from LLB problem questions. So, forget the structure you used in your undergrad law and listen to the lecturers advise about how to answer questions.In addition, use only the structure you are given, and do not deviate from it. This will be influential in helping you attain good grades.
To conclude, the 9 months I spent undertaking the LPC were intense, hectic and tiring but despite all of this I don’t regret my decision to pursue the LPC with a Masters. It was also exciting because I made some good friends and created amazing memories along the way in addition to leaving with two qualifications. I also enjoyed majority of the compulsory modules. I found a few of them nerve wrecking such as advocacy (but it was also fun) and I picked electives that I enjoyed and was genuinely interested in, which I believe is quite important. If you work hard on it and put in time and effort, you’ll see the results!!
Pro-bono work/volunteering/career events:
Before I conclude, I would like to point out the importance of pro-bono work. You’ll have opportunities to do pro-bono work and attend law firm career events. I would recommend taking up any opportunity that is offered because it will be good for you in terms of developing transferable skills, building your network and enhancing your CV. Your university will host employer events with various law firms, it’s a good way to network with the firm and speak to current employees on the culture before you apply to them. In addition, you will find it easier to explain your interest in the law firm and specific area of law when applying if you have spoken to people working there.
I hope you found this helpful and informative. Wish you all the best.
NB: Changes to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales (SQE) from September 2020;
The Solicitor’s Regulatory Authority (SRA) is introducing a new method of assessment for qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales, to be known as the Solicitors Qualifying Examination or “SQE.
This only applies to students who will begin their legal studies after September 2020. Under the new route there will be no need to have a qualifying law degree or to undertake the Legal Practice Course in order to qualify as a solicitor. Instead solicitors will need to have any degree or equivalent qualification, have passed the SQE and undertaken a period of work-based training.
More details on this can be found on:
Belynda Kirabo Mabirizi