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The Legal Practice Course (LPC) - A Guide

Before September 2021, the Legal Practice Course was one of the main ways to qualify as a solicitor. Also known as a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, these courses have a vocational focus, creating a link between academic study and legal work.

Our overview of the LPC covers the essentials, such as entry requirements, course content and funding options.

For more advice on Masters courses, take a look at our guide to different Masters qualifications, or our page on the Master of Laws (LLM) degree.

Changes to qualifying as a solicitor

Prior to September 2021, the Legal Practice Course was one of the main ways to qualify as a solicitor. However, it was effectively replaced by the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) as a way of simplifying the qualification process for aspiring solicitors.

If you’ve already completed, begun or accepted a place on a GDL, LPC or training contract on 1 September 2021, there are transitional arrangements for you to qualify via the previous route until 2032 (you can also qualify via the SQE if you want to).

What is the LPC?

The LPC combines lectures and practical workshops, giving you a well-rounded (and often intense) introduction to what day-to-day life as a solicitor involves.

You can expect to cover such skills as interviewing, advocacy and project management, with the course geared towards the practical application of these techniques.

You’ll also take three electives on specific legal areas, allowing you to concentrate on certain topics or broaden your horizons.

Legal Practice Course
Type Taught / Professional
Subjects Law
Qualification Level 7 (NQF)
Length 1-2 years
Credits Value 120 CATS / 60 ECTS
Availability England and Wales

What are the entry requirements for the LPC?

To be eligible for the Legal Practice Course, you need to have finished an undergraduate degree in Law (LLB), or to have converted an unrelated undergraduate degree with a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or a Common Professional Examination (CPE).

Choosing the right LPC

When picking an LPC, think about which electives you want to take, how much the course costs and what kind of institution you’d like to study at. Take a look at our course listings to browse and compare different LPC programs.

Which countries award LPCs?

LPCs are awarded in England and Wales, although you can study a similar qualification in Scotland. The Scottish equivalent is the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, and follows the same principles as the LPC, looking to bridge academic study and professional legal practice.

How much does the LPC cost?

The cost of an LPC differs greatly from place to place, so it’s worth doing your research to find a course that suits both your finances and your preferred career path. In 2017, the average cost of an LPC was £11,550, but there are cheaper and more expensive institutions. Find out more about the cost of a Masters.

How can I fund the LPC?

An LPC is a big financial commitment, but there are a few options for funding:

  • Sponsorship – If you’ve secured a training contract in advance of your application, your new employer may sponsor you through the course.
  • Scholarship – Many university law departments offer scholarships.
  • Postgraduate loan – If you study the LPC with an LLM, you might be eligible for a postgraduate loan from the UK Government.
  • Diversity Access Scheme – The Law Society runs a scholarship scheme for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Employment – If you’re not able to get funding via the above options, you might want to apply for a part-time LPC and work while studying.

Who is the LPC for?

The LPC is designed for people who want to become a solicitor and is a vital step on the path towards qualification. Whereas Master of Laws (LLM) degrees give you the opportunity to study a specific field of legal theory in depth, the LPC emphasises the importance of vocational and commercial skills.

Some institutions do allow you to combine an LPC with elements of the LLM, so this could be worth considering if you’re not sure which qualification is best for you. These courses typically follow a similar path as a straight LPC, while also involving a lengthy dissertation or research project.

An LPC is not a commitment to be taken lightly – both in terms of finances and workload – so there are a few things you should bear in mind before you apply:

  • Do you want to become a lawyer? LPCs are designed to get you ready for the first year of your training contract and, as such, it’s advisable to already have a good amount of work experience before starting one. If you’re more interested in the academic study of law, an LLM will be more suitable for you.
  • What kind of institution do you want to study at? You can take the LPC at a specific university or at a national course provider like the University of Law or BPP University. Think about whether you’d prefer the academic setting of a university, or the more commercial environment of a national LPC provider.
  • What area of the law do you want to specialise in? Electives vary from course to course – make sure you’re interested in the topics on offer.

What’s it like to study the LPC?

LPCs are split into two parts, with the first section focussing on practical skills and the second section giving you the chance to choose three electives.

Some of the skills you’ll learn in the first part of the LPC could include:

  • Advocacy
  • Drafting
  • Interviewing and advising
  • Legal research
  • Professional conduct

Meanwhile, the optional electives in the second section of the course will cover a range of legal topics, differing from institution to institution. You can expect to choose from subjects as diverse as property law, private client and commercial litigation, and you’ll be able to pick the specific areas that you want to practice in.

Take a look at some of the different LPCs on offer.

How long does an LPC take?

Studying an LPC full-time generally takes ten months, including two teaching terms. If you opt to study part-time, the course will take two years.

The big national providers – BPP University and the University of Law – have the option of an accelerated LPC for candidates sponsored by certain law firms. Accelerated LPCs feature a more intense workload, as well as two different start dates (January/February and July/August, depending on the institution).

You could also look into a distance learning LPC, especially if you want to fit the course around work or other commitments. These online courses offer a more flexible way of studying, with the same high-quality teaching and feedback that you’d receive on a traditional LPC.

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Last updated - 09/08/2021

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