updated on 23 March 2020
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Until 2021, the Legal Practice Course (LPC) remains the mandatory vocational stage of training to be a solicitor. From 2021 onwards, the LPC will be replaced by a new system, the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) – find out more below.
The LPC is the vocational stage of training that follows either a law degree or postgraduate law conversion course. It is a one-year, full-time (or two-year, part-time) course providing a bridge between academic study and training in a law firm. It is both knowledge and skills-based, and it aims to ensure that you can do the work of a trainee solicitor under proper supervision when you begin your training contract.
The LPC is focused on the practical skills that lawyers use day to day. The emphasis is on workshops, continuous assessment, independent research and group discussions. It also allows you a certain amount of specialisation through a range of optional subjects. You will find that the LPC provides a good practical foundation for your early years of practice at a law firm.
The LPC is sometimes split into two parts, separating the compulsory subjects (stage one) from the optional electives (stage two, which students have the option of completing at a later date – even during their training contracts). However, most students opt to take stage two immediately after completing stage one, so full-time students usually complete the LPC in the space of one academic year, before starting their training contract.
Change ahead: the Solicitors Qualifying Examination
The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a new system of exams that all prospective solicitors must pass at the point of qualifying. The SQE is due to be introduced in 2021, when the LPC will be phased out.
As it stands, the last LPC programmes will start in January 2022, after which law schools will probably stop providing the course and all prospective solicitors will then have to take the SQE. However, the LPC will remain valid as a qualification until as late as 2031, so LPC graduates will still be able to apply for trainee solicitor roles after the SQE is introduced.
Find out more