The fast-track LPC crams the entire course into a fast-paced seven months. But is this even a good idea?
One thing that plenty of law schools are good at is allowing students to study in variety of different ways – from distance learning, to numerous part-time options, to full-time courses running at almost all times of the day. One of the most recent developments is the ‘accelerated LPC’, a fast track course that crams everything a future trainee needs to know into just over seven months of hard work. But is it a good idea for a relatively difficult course to be squeezed into such a short space of time? And is it even possible?
The accelerated LPC has been offered by BPP in London since 2009. It is currently only available to students who have secured a training contract with Freshfields, Hogan Lovells, Slaughter and May, Norton Rose or Herbert Smith. However, BPP will be accepting students who don’t already have a training contract lined up on the accelerated course from August 2011. The requirements remain the same as for the standard version of the course (a 2:1 degree) and, unfortunately, so do the fees.
Of course, where one big law school leads, the other is bound to follow and, sure enough, the future trainees of Squire Sanders Hammonds, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Baker and Mackenzie will complete the fast-track programme at the College of Law from September 2011.
How does the accelerated LPC work?
The BPP course (the only one currently running) starts twice a year, in February and August, but there’s a significant amount of pre reading that needs to be completed beforehand. In similar fashion to the standard version of the LPC, the programme is divided into two parts.
Stage 1 covers the core subjects such as litigation, property law, business law, professional conduct, taxation and wills. It also includes assessment of such skills as advocacy; practical legal research; interviewing and advising; drafting; and writing.
Stage 2 covers three subjects: corporate transactions, debt finance, and equity finance (reflecting, of course, the practices of the firms we mentioned earlier). As opposed to the standard LPC programme, no other elective subjects are available.
The course essentially covers the syllabus of a full-time LPC, but the students don’t get the benefit of breaks and reading weeks. Classes are taught five days a week with a mixture of lectures and small-group workshops spread between the hours of 9am and 6pm. Students say that this all adds up to around 16 hours per week. There are, however, additional online lectures, workbook exercises and seminars, as well as a fair number of mock exams throughout the year: on average one or two per week.
Will it suit me?
Our sources who have completed the course say that it is certainly do-able, but that you need to be committed 100%, as the schedule doesn’t really allow for other distractions. You will need to be prepared for the fact that with the amount of preparation the course requires, it is difficult to hold a part-time job. You may need to cut down on your social life and other extracurricular activities as well. Our sources say, however, that despite “the necessity to work a fair number of evenings and weekends, it’s not unmanageable.” Others pointed out: “There are no long gaps between learning and your exams – no dead periods – so you always have momentum and are always on a bit of a high, actually!”
Students emphasised that “the course is well planned, and certainly not designed to hinder performance.” They also praised the study materials provided by BPP, which breaking the topics into easily digestible chunks, making it much easier to revise and saving precious time.
The course certainly imposes a much faster pace of work and requires a higher standard of time management and organisation skills on your part than the ten-month LPC does. For that reason, it may be a better preparation for the working life that awaits trainees-to-be on completion. Many recruiters emphasise the importance of the continuity of learning and training.
It has also been pointed out that many students, having endured a number of years at university, are very eager to start working (and earning) as soon as possible and the course enables them to embark on their training contracts shortly after the exams. Those who are yet to secure a training contract could use the extra time that they gain preparing applications or gaining valuable work experience.
All in all, it seems that the compact version of the LPC is an interesting option to consider, and should get you ready for the fast pace of a City training contract. If you don’t have a training contract yet, we’ll give the same warning we give to those considering the full-length LPC: going to law school without a training contract lined up is a calculated gamble – you are not guaranteed to get a job afterwards. However, if you can afford it, the course is certainly a good way of proving your commitment and time management skills to potential employers.
This feature was first published in our May 2011 newsletter.