Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Monday, April 28, 2008

Legal Practice Course - professional course or just a rip off?

25/04/08

Legal practice course providers cashing in on unsuspecting law graduates?

It has been announced today in the Law Society Gazette that the College of Law are opening a new branch in Manchester to compete with rivals BPP.

If one assumes that the new college will host a further 200 to 300 new students it is surely yet another sign of the industry that has grown up around training potential solicitors and lawyers on a somewhat desperate audience or also quite captive.

It has been considered for many years that a respectable career can be had in the legal profession and that students and graduates should strive towards qualification as a lawyer, whether solicitor or barrister. The reality is often very much different and that there are simply not enough jobs for trainee solicitors or for solicitors once they are qualified for there to be too many legal practice course graduates.

One of the problems with this approach by the College of Law is that it almost gives off the picture that there are plenty of posts out there once someone has completed a College of Law legal practice course to justify taking the course in the first place.

However I have come across many trainee solicitors and newly qualified solicitors and also paralegals and legal practice course graduates who are still paying off their debts for these courses many, many years later and in fact, some will never pay them off just because of the sheer amount and the low salary that they can expect once they qualify as a solicitor.

Perhaps it is time for legal practice course providers like the College of Law and BPP to have a look at their courses and the way that they advertise the legal practice course and consider whether or not it can be morally and ethically justified to continue. There are very few other professional courses that cost the same at the legal practice course does and I do recall a survey some years ago where it was estimated that each student who graduated from the legal practice course was in something between £10,000 and £20,000 worth of debt by the time they had finished it. Obviously a newly qualified salary of £22,000 is not going to be paying that sort of debt off in a few years.

Whilst it is accepted that the brand of College of Law is considered quite superior to other legal practice course providers and that a lot of the other practice course providers are former polytechnics and new universities, it must be said that once a legal practice course graduate has finished the course and goes into training contract applications or even starts a training contract and looks for newly qualified posts, there are very few firms out there outside of the centre of London that will be the slightest bit interested where they did the legal practice course.

There is still a general attitude in the legal profession that the legal practice course is a bit of a “Mickey Mouse” qualification and it yet another burning ring of fire for every potential solicitor to jump through. It almost seems to legal practice course students at times (and this included myself many years ago) that the whole aim of the legal practice course was to make a lot of money in as short a space as possible for the college that was running the course.

I hope that this isn’t the case and I do recall taking my legal practice course advocacy notes with me when I started my training contract, finding them quite useful. However I’m not sure that the £6000 or the price I paid then quite justified this and perhaps I could have just purchased a book myself and read it before going into court.

Of course, the quality, standard and relevance of a legal practice course is a matter for another discussion.

Jonathan Fagan is the Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment (http://www.ten-percent.co.uk/) and regularly commentates and writes on the state of the legal profession and the legal recruitment and legal job market. If you would like to contact Jonathan for either press comments or careers advice, please email him at cv@ten-percent.co.uk.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our son studied for the LPC at () University this year 2007-2008.He got a high 2.1 law degree and was accepted at () Uni for this course the next step in his chosen career.We as parents paid for the LPC course and all the extras one has to pay.Our son passed all the areas of this course apart from Business Law.He resat this in August and failed it again by two marks he got 48 should have got 50.He was gutted to find he had failed with two marks.Six of his friends who also resat this subject failed again.We wrote to the LPC director at () Uni who replied to say this is how it is.A pass mark of 50 has to be achieved in all areas of the exams.So our son has one final chance in Jan/Feb 2009 to pass the Business Law.We know if he fails this time his dreams are over.He takes this again unless we pay another £10k for the LPC again.All for two marks.Again one our our sons friends failed his writing skills his parents say they will pay the £10k again hoping he will succeed at some point.We agree this is the rip off course of the century.If we find we are being ripped off with other areas we go to Watchdog or the Financial Ombudsman ,who can we go to for advice on this matter.How much are Universities making in all the retakes of the LpC for the sake of say two marks.Surely they should look at the pupils overall work in the year.Average all the points awarded to the student.If our son fails finally what a waste of all the years from O levels, A levels.his Law Degree and LPC work.The Mickey Mouse course qualfication as you called this is giving our son ,his friends ,their parents including me and my husband no laughs at all, only the feeling that we are being ripped off.I wonder how many people out there agree with us?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree!
I just resat my business law module for the 3rd time! ive passed everything else but this stupid business module omg! it was so frustrating!!! over a few marks i can easily fail the whole LPC and its killing me...I dont even feel like applying to legal jobs because i feel itll be a waste if i end up failing. I dont think id fork out another 10k to fund my studies! I'd go into something different which isnt so bad anymore because there are alot of lawyers and trainees in particular who are getting VERY LOW wages...a non grad gets more! :(
just want this time to be over...waiting for results...LPC = money making scheme!

Anonymous said...

No disrespect intended, but if you fail a LPC module 3 times you don't really deserve a shot at a Training Contract.

I know many people who have sailed through uni with top grades and are still having difficulties getting a TC. Do you really think law firms will want to take someone who needs 3 attempts to pass a LPC module?

Anonymous said...

Well there is clearly a lot of disrespect intended in your comment. I failed Litigation, Property, Business Law and Practice and Banking and Debt Finance. I resat all of these and passed Property yet failed the other three once again. I resat and failed the three yet another time. The issue - the feedback one is provided from the College of Law is about as useful as an ash tray on a motorbike. I was refused to see my papers and attended a "technicque session" where a lecturer proceeded to tell us all we were kinesthetic learners! I cannot see where I am going wrong, and a College of Law lecturer has point-blank refused to help, advising that the feedback should be sufficient. The LPC, in my opinion, is a foolish requirement set out to prohibit access to an already saturated market. I got a first in my law degree which was actually Law with Accounting (half of an accountancy degree on top). The LPC seems to be marked so strictly that it prevents more than capable people entry into their desired profession. As said above, I have spoken to a number of solicitors who advise that some of the stuff we are required to do is for their secretaries.

Anonymous said...

I you fail the LPC and retake it....would any future employer know....is there any record of it when you graduate?

Anonymous said...

I also had a problem passing the LPC, in the end i failed by 3 marks...

I then found out from the careers team that you can study to become a Legal Exective, for a tiny fraction of the price of the LPC... AND still become a solicitor.

Why oh why did nobody tell me this before?!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that this LPC is a rip off, I am still yet to pass Business Law for the 3rd time. Its really hard to pass that module. I am not even sure if its worth taking the exams again. I have a great job with the High Court and I earn more than most of the people that are Trainee Solicitors. I am thinking of giving up on the LPC and saving up to do the the Legal Executive Course which can still help me become a solicitor for way less that the cost of the LPC. I am now in debt of over 20,000 all for nothing.

Anonymous said...

To the annonymous person who posted on the 14 july 2015. I have started my LPC at the Uni of Law in September 2015. If you have time can you please email me at
luvfam11@yahoo.co.uk. I need a little guidance on this course. I doinmg it part-time while working as I have to really be able to pass this for personal reasons.