I began the Legal Practice Course in September 2016 and completed it in June this year. Currently pretending I’m not super scared to receive my results.
For those who are unaware of what the Legal Practice Course is, it is essentially the final course after completing your law degree or the GDL (for those who studied a subject other than law) which will then enable you to train to be a solicitor.
Just to provide some background, the LPC can be taken as a full time course ranging from 2 – 5 days a week for nine months, as an accelerated version over 7 months or as a part time course (e.g. weekends). Students can either listen to lectures online or can attend them at the university. I preferred to listen to them in my own time online, surrounded by snacks in my pajamas with the ability to rewind if I needed clarification.
For those who are aware of the Legal Practice Course and are hoping to study it, here is everything you need to know.
- Full time means full time!
I cannot stress this enough. Having worked part time as a Paralegal throughout the LPC, I can honestly tell you that it was testing. Having opted to attend university two full days a week (9am – 6pm) for nine months, I continued working a further three days a week as a Paralegal. I underestimated that full time means full time. Although my physical presence at university was only necessary two days a week, I failed to factor in the need to listen to lectures and prepare sufficiently for the Small Group Sessions (‘SGS’). Lectures range from one to two hours in length and give a full background on the topic of law in question. SGS comprise much longer activities to complete before class and students are expected to spend around three hours preparing for each SGS. To put this into perspective, during the core modules (Business Law, Property Law and Civil and Criminal Litigation) I was expected to complete four lectures a week (four hours) and five SGS (fifteen hours preperation). This totals nineteen hours of study, NOT including additional independent study or time spent physically at university attending class. Consequently, I worked in law, went to university to study law and spent my weekends lawing, too. Be prepared for law, law, law.
2. ‘Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance’
Do not expect to be able to not prepare for the SGS and learn everything whilst you are there. The premise of the Small Group Session preparation is that it supplements the work you will do throughout the two hour sessions. In these sessions, students choose groups to work in and present their work back to the rest of the group. It is unlikely that you will have much to contribute if you do not prepare in advance.
3. SGS = SACRED
Believe me when I tell you that you WANT to attend these sessions. It is all too easy to think that you can get away with missing sessions, you can’t. The structure of the SGS’ activities mirror the type of questions and topics which will come up in your exams and the lecturers teaching you are the ones who write the exam papers. Make notes, attempt the questions and use the solutions from these sessions as revision tools – do not rely on the chapter handouts.
4. 1 + 1 = I hate maths
If, like me, you chose this career path thinking you’ll never have to do maths, think again! When I received my tax workbook, my heart sank :(. The Business Law module requires students to complete tax calculations and there is a whole module surrounding Solicitors’ Accounts. Solicitors’ Accounts requires students understand how a law firm functions in practice and how it deals with money from clients in its bank accounts. The exam requires students to complete a financial statement and reconcile both of the firm’s bank accounts to reflect this. As daunting as it sounds, the majority of students pass this exam with flying colours (including me, somehow)!
5. Multiple Choice Questions are a) tricky b) tricky c) tricky d) tricky
In each exam, there will be multiple choice questions, often referred to as MCQs. Easy, you say? Ha ha. All I can advise for these questions is to read them, read them again, read them once more and then one more time. Is the answer looking for the correct answer or the incorrect answer? Does the exam paper use the terminology ‘must’ or ‘may’? Just read the question, guys.
6. Mmm, spoon feeding
I was told numerous times before starting the LPC how easy it was. I, personally, found it the complete opposite. The main reasoning behind people advising me it was easy was because the material is spoon fed to you. Yes, full solutions to activities are provided but do not confuse yourself by thinking that the information included in the solutions is easy. You may have the words in front of you but that doesn’t automatically mean you will understand them. Persevere.
7. Your own forest
Paper. You will receive lots of paper. So much paper. A whole forest .. and then some more. Invest in folders and stationary! 😀
One final tip for you all is that this course is so much more practical than your undergraduate degree. You will be taught how to fill out different forms (easy exam marks) and be prepared to apply the law to your client’s scenario. If there is one thing you take from this post, let it be that you APPLY, APPLY, APPLY the law to the facts provided in your exams.
Do not treat this as your last year of university, treat it as the first year of your career.