After recently completing stage 1 of the Legal Practice Course (LPC), I reflect on my experience to offer you five tips on how to survive the course.
1. Treat the LPC like a full-time role
Whether you’re doing the LPC full time or part time, it is a full-time commitment. At the start of the course, you will be expected to agree to full attendance, except in exceptional circumstances. This is for your benefit.
When you fall behind on the LPC, it becomes almost impossible to catch up. That is unless you dedicate hours outside the recommended study periods. This will not be possible for all, therefore organisation and commitment is key.
2. Apply your knowledge
If there’s anything I’ve learnt this year, it’s that you can have all the knowledge, but unless you apply it to the scenario you’re given you're unlikely to score highly. The LPC is about understanding procedures and rules. Make your notes accessible and adjust to the process of learning everything. Remember to think practically and advise your client FULLY!
3. Preparation is key
Planning, managing and preparing your time will help you to do well on the course. To be successful on the LPC, you must prepare for each workshop. The lectures you attend will provide the knowledge. It is recommended that you do approximately three hours of preparation per workshop. The activities you’re given in your workshop classes will build on the work you’re given to prepare for in advance. Your preparation will correlate well with your organisation.
4. The LPC is not the LLB
On the LLB, you are testing your academic skills, but on the LPC you are testing your vocational skills. It’s important to understand the difference between the two as it does take time to adapt to the course.
For some students, they will instantly adapt to the new challenge of vocational work, whereas for other students it may take time. Take the time to settle into the course. Even if you’re not enjoying this new way of learning, be open minded, speak with your tutors and find a study method that works for you. Leave the days of skipping lectures and tutorials behind. This is a crucial time to adapt to life in practice.
5. Open book is not for everyone
Having an open book exam can lead to a lack of preparation. Many believe that because the exam will be open book you don’t need to revise or do mock papers because the answers will be right in front of you. This is the wrong way to approach your exams and can lead to failure. You won’t have time to flick through pages of solutions. The solutions you are given and the notes that you create should be used to consolidate your learning and jog your memory.
Organisation is also important for exam technique on the LPC. If you are taking solutions and notes that you wish to rely on, make sure that you tab, highlight and add post-it-notes – any references that can be made without breaching your university’s exam regulations.
Also, try to avoid marking every material you wish to use. Not all of the information you are given on the LPC is required for the exams and will not necessarily be directly applicable to all the questions that appear on the exam paper. Although it’s too easy to rely on open books, you must approach this with caution.
With the introduction of the Solicitor's Qualifying Examination (SQE), these tips will still apply. Although the SQE1 exams will not be open book, preparing to pass the exams with a professional outlook is key. The more you consolidate your learning, learn procedures in workable chunks and apply the knowledge to each scenario, the higher your chances of passing the legal assessments.
On both the LPC and the SQE you will learn important skills and knowledge from practitioners. Practise your delivery of legal knowledge by way of vacation schemes, pro bono and other forms of legal work experience to pass the skill elements of the LPC and the SQE. A key thing to remember on both the LPC and SQE courses is to not leave things until the last minute – learn over time to increase your chances of success.