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.