For nearly 30 years, the LPC has been the cornerstone of solicitor education and training. Introduced in 1993, the LPC replaced the Law Society’s Final Examination (LSF). The goal of the Legal Practice Course (LPC) was to disrupt how legal professionals were trained by challenging the dominant position of the College of Law.
The problem with the College of Law’s dominant position was that not enough organisations were offering any kind of legal training and accessibility was limited.
However, the LPC is slowly being phased out to eventually be replaced by the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) introduced in 2020. The SQE is expected to be the only source of legal training by 2026.
The LPC is the final, postgraduate vocational training course that all aspiring solicitors must complete before becoming a fully qualified solicitor. An LPC can be taken after completing either a:
The LPC is regulated by the Law Society of England and Wales and replaced the Law Society’s Final Examination (LSF) in 1993.
The objective of the LPC is to prepare and equip aspiring solicitors for the role. The course is split into two stages.
Stage 1 one of the LPC covers three essential legal practice areas:
This stage also helps to develop the following skills:
Stage 1 of the course could cover additional material, such as:
Stage 2 of the LPC features three vocational electives, including options for solicitors looking to work for city-based law firms. The material covered, includes:
There are also a selection of choices that are relevant to small- and medium-sized legal firms, including:
Your elective choices should ideally reflect any areas of legal practice that are of particular interest to you. However, if you have already secured a training contract, specific electives may be mandatory as instructed by your sponsoring law firm.
Most courses offer a blend of workshops, lectures and private study, which are often combined with online tests and tutorials. You could be assessed through open and closed book knowledge assessments, written assignments, oral presentations and coursework.
The LPC is intensive. The content of the course is not necessarily difficult, but the quantity can be daunting. Much of the course is structured around lectures, and then the material is discussed in smaller seminar groups. The lectures tend to provide a brief overview, but the expectation is that you would study the course materials to ‘fill in the gaps’.
You should be prepared for the difference in studying between undergraduate level and the LPC. The LPC requires much more self-teaching as there is a lot of independent study. You will need to be disciplined and manage your time well to avoid falling behind because the course runs at a fast pace.
The length of an LPC depends on the provider that you take the course with. Generally, a full-time LPC can take 12 months to complete, while a part-time course can take two years.
Vocational electives can be taken over a longer duration – either studied together or separately. Stage 1 of the LPC can only be completed with a single course provider. Stage 2 can be studied with more than one recognised provider.
The cost of an LPC course depends on where and how you choose to study the course. You have the option to study the LPC as a whole or in two separate stages. Studying in separate stages could cost you more.
To give you an idea of costs, the University of Law charges £13,200 for the LPC across its locations outside of London. To study the LPC with the University of Law in London would set you back £17,950.
However, you may be able to secure funding to cover the cost of your LPC. For example, the firm with which you are doing your solicitors training contract may pay your fees – you will need to find out what this involves because it could mean that you are tied into the firm for several years as a condition of funding your LPC.
If your LPC fees are not being paid, you will need to consider other sources, such as:
The SQE provides aspiring solicitors with a completely new route into the legal profession. However, up until 2032, the LPC is still a valid qualification and open for election for students who started or accepted a place on either a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD), Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL) or the Common Professional Examination (CPE) prior to 1 September 2021. Therefore, for those who fall within the bracket, you will need to decide whether the LPC or SQE is the right choice for your solicitor education and training.
The LPC is a well-established course, and contains content that does not feature in the SQE syllabus. Plus, the LPC is widely respected among law firms. These factors continue to make the LPC a popular choice with aspiring solicitors and their employers, while it still remains an option to qualify using this route.
However, the SQE is the future, so your main consideration when making a choice between the LPC or SQE will be whether you expect to be able to obtain a training contract which would set you up to complete either the LPC or SQE, or would be better suited to completing your Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) through a variety of places, as is an option for the SQE.
The main difference between the LPC and SQE is that there is no prescribed training course for SQE assessment. The LPC on the other hand is a prescribed, regulated programme of training featuring assessments in core legal practice areas, legal skills and elective subjects.
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