THE LPC: Realistic expectations and how to cope.

 

Having now completed a full 3 months of the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law, I feel like I am now (sort of) qualified to give you an opinion on exactly what it is like to be a LPC student. I should at this stage point out that I am taking the corporate route and can therefore only give my opinion on it. 

 

Firstly let me begin with my views on the Legal Practice Course before I began studying it. I’d heard a lot of rumours from previous LPC students and I think it is fair to say that most of them revolved around how easy the course was, how I would have no trouble at all dealing with the content and that compared to a law degree it was basically a piss take. 

I hate to break it to you folks, but the above opinions could not be further from the truth. In fact, if anyone ever tells you that the LPC is ‘easy’ then please punch them in the face. I’m pretty sure there’s an exception in the SRA Code of Conduct permitting a law student to punch someone in the face who describes the LPC as ‘easy’. 

Now let me clarify: 

The LPC is certainly not easy. However it is not completely awful either providing you manage your workload effectively. I must admit, I found the first 2/3 weeks of the LPC a bit of a shock. The LPC is definitely ‘top-heavy’. Stage 1 of the course seems to contain the majority of the work. Each student takes 4 workshops a week, each lasting 2.5 hours, with prep for each one taking anywhere from 2 hours to 8 hours. The College of Law I believe suggests that students spend on average 6-8 hours preparing for each workshop and this I agree with. Having completed 3 months of the course, 6-8 hours is roughly an accurate reflection of how long it will take you to complete the reading, i-Tutorials, Test & Feedback and any prep tasks. Of course there’s the odd workshop where you will prep for much less time than that and others that will take you much longer to prep for. 

How to cope:

Routine routine routine. I have found that the best way to cope with the LPC is to get yourself into a routine that suits you. Those who seem to be coping most effectively are those who treat each day as a normal working day and this (I believe) is the best method. A 9-5 day should get you through each of your workshops and leave you with enough time to prep for the next workshop. In addition, it’s also a great way to get yourself used to working life. After all, most of us will be shipped off into law firms next September and that isn’t as far away as it may seem! 

Ask questions! This may seem like an obviously thing to do but you’d be surprised how many people sit there and suffer in silence throughout workshops. So much so, that I have found myself on occasion purposely asking questions even if I knew the answer because I knew there were people in the room who would benefit from clarification. I feel like a lot of people (especially those with training contracts already) feel as though they should understand everything easily and as a result are too embarrassed to ask simple questions. You should remind yourself that the next time you deal with any of this content it will be in the REAL WORLD, so you best ensure you understand what you’re doing now!

Give yourself a break! As I said, I feel getting into the ‘working day’ routine is the best way to get through the LPC. As a result, you should have your weekends free. Of course there will be the odd time throughout the course where you’ll need to devote much more time to studying, especially when you have coursework assessments due or skills assessments coming up. However, mostly you should have your weekends free providing you manage your time during the week effectively. Make the most of your time off! Go out! Eat food! Get drunk! Play scrabble! Whatever you need to do to break free from law and treat yourself you should do during your free time. This will ensure you’re ready for the week ahead. Remember that a lot of the time relaxation is just as important as working hard. 

It was not my aim in this post to scare any of you who are yet to complete the LPC, but merely to give you realistic expectations from a reliable source. No the LPC is not easy, but it’s not overly difficult either providing you keep on top of the work and manage your time effectively. 

Hopefully this post has given those of you who are yet to complete the LPC a good excuse to punch people in the face. Go for the nose.*

 

 

 

 

*I am of course, not serious about punching people in the face who tell you how easy the course is! Sort of. 

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Exam hell.

Mr Sunshine. The main enemy during exam season.

 

Yet again we are at the time of year when students the nation over are sacrificing showering and a staple diet in order to cram as much legal info into their already over-crowded heads. I’ve been there my friends and I can tell you that there is no magic formula to success when it comes to law exams except for a lot of hard work! And caffeine, one mustn’t forget the caffeine. Diet Coke and Tea are my main sources.

One of the most difficult parts of revising for a law exam is knowing where on earth to start! So many notes and materials can build up over the course of 12 quick weeks, leaving us poor students feeling intimidated by bundles of our own scribble. I almost went into a rant about the importance of making good notes throughout the year so you can look back on them easily but it’s definitely too late for that now and I fear a rant of that sort would only result in further depression. No, we will not go down that road. Instead we shall accept the fact that your notes on the topic you’ve decided to study contain nothing but little obscene doodles which made you laugh at the time but now make you want to harm yourself. Deep breaths.

Nevertheless try to break your modules down into manageable chunks. Most modules are organized and taught in sections nowadays making it so much easier when it comes to revision time .Of course, it is important to give yourself time to breathe. Revising law is so much easier when you tackle one topic at a time, walk away for a while and then come back to another topic with a fresh mind high on caffeine.

I recall a conveyancing module in particular where the tutor kindly told us that there would only be 6 topics arising in the exam. Of course this wasn’t helpful in the slightest as we weren’t told which 6 topics and so had to learn the entire module content nonetheless. I remember being able to rhyme off over 100 case names but couldn’t really tell you anything interesting about each individual case aside from a one liner. I also recall the feedback: “Impressive number of cases in this answer but no clear indication that the candidate knows anything about them!”. I will forever despise that tutor, even if he had a point.

Fear not my friends, for soon there will come a time when you will walk out of that exam hall for the last time and believe me, there will be NO better feeling. Sitting your final law exam is a joyous occasion, even somewhat tribal! For off students go, back to their student flats, to gather up the revision notes to burn them and perform some sort of tribal dance around the fire. Naked. Just me?

PS – I also feel that I should note that it is usually around this time of year that the sun attempts to sabotage all students. Will it be 25 degrees at any other stage during the summer? Probably not. Good old mr sunshine only likes to come out when you’re on your way into an exam hall. That has always and will always be the case. On a brighter note, think of all the money you’re saving on sun cream by being inside revising!!!!!!!! WOOOOO!!!!! ………..*cries*

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The dreaded application form…

Another victim of the training contract application form.

In my opinion, these bad boys are literally the worst part of the law recruitment process. Entering in the same information over and over again and then answering mind numbing questions on why you want to be a Solicitor is not for the faint hearted. Many a night I sat typing into the wee hours about how law was my calling in life (needless to say that application was unsuccessful). In this post I’ll do my best to bestow upon you, my faithful reader, any advice which I’ve picked up along the way in relation to the application form. So, deep breaths, here we go!

1. Tell the truth. This might seem blatantly obvious, but I can’t tell you how many of my peers got themselves into quite tricky interview situations because of something untrue they had written on their application form. After all, it’s difficult to recall those two weeks you spent delivering clean water to children in Africa if it never actually happened in the first place. This advice also applies to exam results. Don’t even bother bumping that EU mark up to a first; sure, you might secure an interview, you might even secure a training contract, but I imagine things to be a little awkward when supplying the firm with your official transcript.

2. Research. YAWN YAWN YAWN. Yes, I know, it seems unfair. You’ve read a million law firm websites, surely this firm couldn’t be any different? Wrong. Failing to research a firm properly will ultimately result in you being unable to answer the questions asked in the application form. A graduate recruiter once told me of a very elaborate answer to the question ‘WHY US?’ about how that particular student admired the firm’s shipping department and the work they had done in that area when in actual fact the firm didn’t even have a shipping department. Failing to read up on a firm properly will only ever lead to you making an idiot of yourself at some stage throughout the process. And lets face it, that’s easy enough done even when you’ve spent two months learning everything there is to know about the firm let alone when you didn’t bother reading their website.

3. DO NOT COPY AND PASTE. I don’t even know why I’m bothering to offer this advice because I know that, despite being told this over and over again, people will still copy and paste answers from one application form to another. And who am I to talk? I myself (cue gasps) have done this in the past. I’m afraid my copying and pasting was not a success, however. I actually managed to past an answer containing another firm’s name into an application form. Needless to say I received a PFO email within the hour.

4. Name drop. Many application forms will ask you if you have any contacts at the firm. Now, nobody is expecting you know the managing partner (and if you do then sod off, why are you reading this?!) but in my opinion the best candidates will have researched the firm properly and in doing so will have spoken or possibly even exchanged a few e-mails with current trainees within the firm. If you have done this, now is your chance to exploit this relationship because lets face it, you didn’t stand at the law fair talking to that trainee about work/life balance because you were actually interested.

5. Read and read again. Yet again, I offer another piece of advice which I myself failed to take when sending off application forms. I accept that having spent 3-4 hours stubbornly adjusting a pre-prepared answer to ‘why do you want to work in corporate law?’ to suit that particular firm, the last thing you want to do is re-read that answer. However, this is CRUCIAL. I recall putting a LOT of effort into one particular application form and being so excited to have finally finished it, I hit the (extremely appealing) ‘SUBMIT’ button without going back over everything I had written. It hit me when saving the application form to my documents that I had made what turned out to be a fatal error. There, staring right at me at the top of the application form was my optional module ‘campony law’. I shit you not. Devastating.

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Welcome along!

 

This is the (very long) road that we are about to go down together. Everyone hold hands. If you squint really hard you can see qualification in the distance!

 

And so it begins…

Hopefully my bio has given you a brief insight into this blog and exactly what it will entail. To help us get better acquainted here is a further explanation of exactly what this blog will offer:

I am a law graduate who is due to begin the LPC in London this coming September. I have secured one of those things people talk about… oh yes, a training contract. Turns out they’re not just a myth after all. A delightful City firm has offered me the chance to spend a large chunk of my life being stressed in their offices and I have foolishly accepted.

Over the coming months you can (if you wish) follow me as I begin my professional training. In the meantime I have much to talk about, including helpful hints and tips on how to go about securing that training contract and how to cope with God awful finals.

Also, I may occasionally write about my caffeine and alcohol dependancies (do not judge me; I’ve spent the past 3 years studying law, after all) but I don’t think we know one another well enough to get into that just yet.

So, if you’ve made it all the way to the final paragraph; congratulations! You win a training contract. If only it were that simple, eh? I think that will do us for now. If anyone has any particular issues they’d like to see me write about then please feel free to make suggestions. I don’t bite. At least not until I’m qualified.

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