Lots of final year students are now in the process of signing up for the LPC, either on the basis of self funding or funded by a law firm. Another year of study! How is this going to compare to university? I asked a few of our recent Warwick alumni for their views and for some top tips and here’s what they said…
” You’ve secured a place on the LPC? You’ve probably heard a wide variety of reports (warnings?) about what lies ahead. Some find it miserable, difficult, boring, overwhelming, pointless. Others find it relatively simple, straight forward, relevant and useful once they go into practice. Your personal experience will very much depend on your approach. You need to get this sorted from the outset. The LPC, for better or for worse, is nothing like university!
Difference between LPC and university
Get ready for less critical and historical analysis and more practical and commercial application. Stop praying for the right exam question to come up and get on with learning and digesting the extensive solutions you are given in your tutorials. You may sometimes have felt that some examination questions were there to catch you out. In complete contrast the prevailing approach on the LPC tends to be:
“Give them the solutions in advance, then check they are able to understand the concepts and apply them under exam conditions”.
Most of the time you’ll have a fairly good idea of what might be coming your way in an exam.
There is a lot more content to digest on average per week on the LPC than there is at university. For instance, some modules have up to 26 seminars (or “small group sessions”) in the space of 3 1/2 months, some of which are 5 hours long! This is made all the more difficult by the fact that you don’t have the typical 6-8 weeks of university study leave to “learn” (cram?) the whole course before exams. You generally have a week and a half at best. You have to get your study strategy right first time. If you tend to start putting revision notes together during periods of university study leave, you’ll have to consider changing your approach.
Approaching the LPC
The first few weeks of the LPC tend to be more relaxed. Beware! Things pick up very quickly. Don’t be fooled by the free time you are given at the start. Keep up with the work or you will really struggle to catch up when things speed up.
Before you start study leave you need to have gained an understanding of the content, put together concise notes and ensured all your statutory references are correct. All you can hope to have time to do during your LPC study leave is to commit your existing notes into your short term memory.
After each small group session, you should take some time to “consolidate” (a word you will constantly hear on the LPC) your notes and work out which points you will need to ask your tutors to clarify. If you don’t understand something, don’t waste hours trying to work it out. Ask. The course is not exactly cheap, so you should feel comfortable asking your tutors for help throughout the course. If you get into the habit of doing this, you should have a full set of correct and concise revision notes by the time you break for study leave.
To help you understand the content, there are various revision guides on the market that distill the modules into a more digestible size. Some concepts are also explained more clearly as the guides get straight to the point (especially the likes of Solicitors’ Accounts, Business Accounts and Business Taxation). You tend to accumulate a great deal of hard and soft copy materials throughout the course, so having everything in one place can be really helpful and save lots of time. A really good and detailed revision guide on the market is the LPC Handbook published by City Career Series (www.LPCHandbook.com). Note, the LPC providers don’t really like students using these books, but we all did and they definitely helped!
In addition, focus more on the materials you are given in small group sessions rather than the lectures – in particular the solutions! Exams tend to be based predominantly on this content. Lectures give more of an overview that can help you to prepare for your small group sessions (and preparation is key if you want to make the most of them).
Whether you enjoy the LPC more than university will depend on your own preferences. It’s not objectively better or worse. Socially it is far less fun as you have so many lectures, small group sessions, assignments, mock exams, actual exams etc. However, if you like working regularly in groups and would rather avoid writing analytical essays and engaging in in-depth historical and critical analysis of the law, you will probably prefer the course content. It has also been surprisingly useful in practice, especially the Business Law module in the context of transactional seats. I still keep a copy of the LPC Handbook in my desk drawer and have referenced it on multiple occasions!
The good news? And a warning…
If you put the work in, it’s far easier to get a good grade (a commendation or a distinction) than it is to get a first class degree at university. However, if you don’t keep up with the work, failure is a real possibility.”