What you learn

The majority of courses are delivered in two stages. Stage one is the compulsory study of core areas of law and practice, while stage two is comprised of three vocational electives.

Stage one

The first stage of the LPC covers the core practice areas of business law and practice, property law and practice, and litigation (civil and criminal). Other components of the course are professional conduct (including ethics and client care, which pervade all aspects of the course), taxation, trusts and tax planning, principles of EU law, and probate and administration of estates. Stage one also teaches essential practical skills (advocacy, interviewing and advising, writing, drafting and research - for more on this element of the course, see below).

Stage two

Students are required to study three optional courses from a range of subjects in the areas of private client (working for individuals) and corporate client (working for companies). All electives have been divided into three groups, with students required to choose electives from at least two different groups to ensure that different aspects of practice are covered during the course. These options are usually studied in the final term of the course. While many courses try to avoid over-specialisation at an early stage, the ability to provide as broad a base as possible from which to enter a training contract is important. Some firms will stipulate which options their future trainees should take. These specific options might include commercial law and practice, employment, landlord and tenant, consumer, housing, family, client in the community (including legal aid, welfare, youth and childcare), advanced criminal practice, advanced litigation and corporate finance.  

Skills

The skills element usually comprises about 25% of the course and includes legal research, drafting, interviewing, negotiating and advocacy, all of which will be developed throughout stages one and two. Core skills can either be taught separately or in the context of a core practice area. These skills are assessed through various different techniques. For instance, oral skills are often assessed via video, while written skills tend to be assessed by practice-based exercises.

Teaching methods for the LPC vary from institution to institution and from subject to subject. Most providers use a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials as the basis of the course. More technology-based teaching methods, such as the use of DVD lectures and webinars, are increasingly common.

Assessment of the LPC is the responsibility of the teaching institutions. It will undoubtedly comprise a mixture of written exams, course work and the assessment of skills.