The Legal Practice Course is a fundamental part to becoming a solicitor. There is no doubt that it is very challenging but managing your time and ensuring that you prepare and organise your work efficiently will help tremendously when it comes to exam season.
I am currently studying the LPC at the University of Law in Norwich and I am around 3/4 of the way through, so I hope that my first-hand experiences will help future or current LPC students with their studies.
How is the LPC structured?
The Law School which I am studying at requires you to sit four compulsory electives and compulsory skill elements such as advocacy, legal writing and drafting. In the final part of your LPC you will have a choice on 3 further electives, or 4 if you have chosen to do the LPC LLM. The LPC LLM requires a further research report and presentation. Each elective comprises of workshops every week which you will need to prepare for. The preparation tasks include textbook reading, research, test and feedback exercises and tasks to complete before the workshop. Once your workshop has been completed you will have consolidation tasks to complete. Consolidation is crucial and allows you to go over the work you have completed in your workshop with your peers and tutors to ensure all your notes are correct. At this stage you can provide any further notes, checklists and tables to help you with your exams. This is also the best time to raise any queries with your tutors on the work you have done.
Getting the most out of the LPC
Ensure that you use your tutors as they are there to help you and will be understanding if you are confused or need assistance with any work. They are there to guide you and are always happy to answer questions. Do not be afraid to ask questions in class, if you are thinking it, it is likely other students are too and at the end of the day, no question is a stupid question!
Take full advantage of any events that the university holds. My law school offered insightful events such as commercial awareness and even Law firm presentations. This is a good opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals and also speak to potential recruiters. Make use of the employability services that the university provides. They can help with CVs, applications, mock interviews and can offer general one to one advice.
Most importantly make friends! You should have a work life balance, which means taking a break from work. You could join societies or clubs at your university or just take time out to hang out with friends. I found that doing work with friends in coffee shops and the library really helped to keep on track and It is also nice to be able to exchange work related advice and tips. It is also nice to be able to speak to friends if you do not quite understand any work.
This is essential throughout the LPC, the workload is intense so ensuring you manage your time effectively will work to your advantage. On my first day, I actually had to take in a suitcase to collect all of my materials, so this is a clear indication of how much work you may cover. On average, each module takes around 4-8 hours depending on how much work is needed for your preparation. This can vary and sometimes I found that some workshop tasks would actually take much longer. It has been best advised that you treat the LPC as if it were a full-time job.
Prepare your notes as you go through each workshop. This is imperative and allows you to be on top of your work. Do not fall into the trap of leaving work for another day as you will become overwhelmed by how much work is still needed to be done and this can have the habit of diminishing your motivation.
I found that doing a to do list or a weekly planner helped to manage my time when studying. By writing out a weekly schedule of what needed to be done and prioritising them for each day, for example, by putting the most important tasks first, made sure I got the work done. It is also very satisfying ticking off the work you have completed. I also found that allowing a certain number of hours for certain electives allowed me to keep focused. I have made separate checklists for each elective, to ensure that I have completed all necessary elements as I go along. This ensures that I keep track of what I have already done and will therefore make me aware of further tasks that need to be completed.
Tailor your days to how it suits you, some people find they work more effectively in the evening and some people in the morning. Do not feel that you should be doing work a certain way because others are!
Organisation is another key element for the LPC. Invest in folders for each subject, folder dividers and some post-it index tabs. Who doesn’t love new stationary, right? By having separate folders for each subject, this will ensure your notes will not get mixed up with other electives. Folder dividers are also very helpful for separating topics in your folders and also makes it easy for you to locate certain notes. Make sure to organise these as you go along. Index tabs are also very useful for tabbing textbooks and your notes. This has been a life-saver during exam season as my exams have been open book at my law school. Different universities may have different regulations for exams, so it is essential to do your research when applying in regards to whether you would prefer to do open book exams or closed (this will not be the case when the Solicitors Qualifying Exam replaces the LPC in September 2021). However, do not be deceived by the fact the exams are open book, this does not make the exams any easier, in fact, the amount covered in the exams is remarkable so it is essential that you know everything and should still revise the work as if it were a closed book exam. This will help you actually understand the work which in turn will allow you to analyse and apply it successfully in your exams.
By organising your notes, you will know them inside out and it will make them easily accessible in the exam if it is open book. This will also help if your exams are closed book, as your revision materials will be structured. You will not want to be frantically looking up information for the first time in exams as this will be time consuming and will put you under a considerable amount of pressure! I found that doing tables, checklists, mind maps, flow charts and past papers really helped when it came to revising. It helps to consolidate your notes and makes it easier to locate information. This is probably one of the most important I found when it came to exams. They were extremely useful in exams as you don’t have as much time as you may anticipate, so condensing your notes is a great revision technique.
During class I would always take my laptop, textbook and folder. My notes would always be done on my laptop, to ensure I got all relevant information down as sometimes workshops can be fast paced. However, it isn't imperative to bring your laptop in. At the end of my workshop I will always make sure that I organise my notes into separate folders on my laptop. Again by being organised, this made it easy to locate and update any of my notes where necessary, so that by the end, it will be easy to see what I have done, but also makes It easy to see if anything else needs doing.
These are some useful hints and tips for the LPC but most importantly stay positive and enjoy it!
By Lydia Mann
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