Law has so many different qualifications that it can be difficult for people to keep track of. Many people look at postgraduate courses and vocational qualifications as a means of broadening their horizons and their knowledge in specific areas.
The LPC is an excellent way of broadening your horizons and of learning the next essentials steps in your eventual career choices.
What is the LPC?
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is a postgraduate course and is the final (educational) stage for those looking to become a Solicitor in either England or Wales. The course is usually used by people to work as a bridge of sorts between general academic study and training in a law firm.
The LPC is taken on after the completion of a normal undergraduate Law degree, however, it can be taken on as part of a postgraduate degree, but is most commonly studied after a conversion course, such as the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).
The course is regulated through the Law Society of England and Wales (LSEW), though it was previously regulated by the Law Society’s Final Examination (LSF). The LPC is offered by a number of Australian universities for LLB graduates. The course is not offered in Scotland, however, there is an equivalent, which is the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice.
There are three phases of the LPC qualification, which are Core, Elective and Practical Skills. The Practical Skills comprise of:
- Drafting and Research
- Interviewing and Advising
- Solicitors' Accounts
- Wills and Administration
The compulsory modules change every now and again according to the university you are applying to and how they run the LPC course, but usually, the compulsory modules are:
- Business Law and Practice
- Civil Litigation
- Criminal Litigation
- Property Law and Practice
As for the elective modules, these are chosen by the university or institute itself, not by the students. The compulsory modules are the longest, the elective modules are the second longest and the practical skills module is the shortest.
How long is the LPC?
The course length depends on how you plan to take the course. For those that are taking the course full-time, then the course will be a one-year course.
How much is the LPC?
The LPC cost varies every year, but it is generally anywhere between £8,000 and £19,000. However, the caveat for the cost is that there is no government funding made available for students, so no bursaries or grants have been set up as the LPC is not considered to be a postgraduate qualification by the government.
There are, however, other options. Since the LPC is generally studied while the student is already in work (usually at a Law firm), then there is a possibility that your employer will help to cover the cost of the course, either through a scholarship or through the firm deciding that it meets their external training criteria.
Though there are no governmental bursaries or grants set up to give students some financial aid, there are other companies or organisations that offer financial support for students. For instance, the Law Society have the Diversity Access Scheme, which offers you:
- A bursary to fund your LPC
- Work experience
- Mentoring support
However, in order to qualify for the scheme, you must meet certain criteria, which are:
- You attend a non-fee paying school
- You are part of the first generation of your family to attend higher education
- You were eligible for free school meals while you were at school
You will have to confirm that you do not have access to familial loans, don’t have savings or investments of over £5,000 and can support your own living costs after getting the scholarship.
Can the LPC be combined with any other degrees?
It is possible to combine the LPC with other qualifications, though not all universities or institutes will allow for this to happen.
The most common qualification for the LPC to be paired with is the LLM, usually in a qualification known as the LPC LLM. The two qualifications are rolled into one period of study. Other universities may allow you to combine your LPC with a Master’s degree as part of an integrated masters programme as well.
When to apply for the LPC?
The LPC is somewhat unique in that there is no opening or closing date for your LPC application as institutes are informed on a weekly basis of any new submissions that may come in.
That having been said, it is worth getting your application in as early as possible so as to prepare yourself for the course. Lots of students apply while completing their final term of their initial undergraduate degree, which gives them time to complete their application and focus on graduating. When you apply, you will likely be invited to a university interview.