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Legal training review make case for ‘bespoke’ LPC

Legal Practice Course ‘struggles to adequately mirror practice’ and ‘is not sufficiently transactional’

28 August 2012

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Lawyers and legal services stakeholders are coming out in support of a more flexible approach to the LPC in greater numbers than initially expected, according to the latest discussion paper from the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR).

The paper, ‘Key Issues II: Developing the detail’, published this afternoon, describe concerns by lawyers and trainees in respect of the current LPC format that the course is too detached from the realities of practice.

The course “struggles to adequately mirror practice” and “is not sufficiently transactional”, it says, with criticism including the lack of adequate emphasis on attention to detail or commercial awareness.

It also suggests that, depending on the order in which students approach the LPC, they may have to unlearn elements of their practical experience to pass the LPC assessment, or re-learn elements of the LPC once they enter a training contract.

Respondents also expressed concern over insufficient monitoring of LPC providers by the SRA.

In its response to the review, the Law Society has suggested that, providing a sufficient core is retained, the LPC could become a shorter, more modular course with the remaining training integrated with the training contract.

This view was shared by several other respondents including the Legal Education and Training Group.

Earlier this month BPP started training a cohort of 12 Eversheds trainees under a new Combined Study Training Contract, which follows a similar model. The firm had to receive a special dispensation from the SRA to do so.

The LETR’s first discussion paper in January considered the possibility of “radical” reforms but subsequent responses have favoured a more moderate approach.

While respondents have remained loyal to the notion of a qualifying law degree there is a lack of consensus over its structure, with “substantial variation in views as to its required contents and fitness for purpose”, and how it should be regulated.

Similarly, there is broad support from employers for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), although the review is yet to establish the extent to which this is down to the course structure or to the recruits themselves.

Research team leader Professor Julian Webb (pictured) said: “In producing this report, we have drawn on a wide range of evidence, including feedback from the International Symposium held in Manchester.

“The aim of the discussion paper is to inform our stakeholders of our progress, encourage debate, support the ongoing work of the researchers in identifying both the key issues relating to the possible reform of legal education and training in England and Wales, and to map out a range of possible solutions.”

‘Key Issues II’ is the fourth discussion paper and is part of the continuing research stage.

The research team’s final report will be submitted in late December 2012.

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