CoL: modified LPC should replace training contract

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  • A student who excels at degree and LPC level can still lack the common sense to excel in the practical world. On the job experience ahead of full qualification is essential.

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  • Why, when there are more LPC grads than training contracts available, do we need to "widen access to the profession"? It's all about widening the size of the CoL's bank balance. The above proposals will weaken the profession. It should be (reasonably) difficult to become a solicitor, what is wrong with that? And your average 23 year-old has no clue when it comes to drafting or commercial instinct. Solicitors need to be trained before being allowed to practice.

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  • The training contract is "significant bottleneck in the qualification process".

    I'm sorry, but I just don't understand this at all.

    The reality is that there are more people wanting to become lawyers (both barristers and solicitors) than there are available pupillages or training contracts. In addition there are more trainees taken on by firms than Newly Qualified Solicitors and a similar story is true at the Bar.

    The reality is that the process of the two year training contract helps firms select the best candidates for their available permanent positions. The fact that the contract is well remunerated is a disincentive for firms to excessively over-recruit at the training contract stage. It also means that trainees aren't paying for their continuing education, and are in fact, at last, earning a wage.

    If there is a bottleneck in the profession then it is caused by the fact that there are fewer jobs than there are would-be lawyers, and I doubt that the College of Law is able to solve that problem, no matter how well qualified its graduates.

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  • We only call people who finish the BVC barristers as the vast majority of them will never practise as barristers, so its nice to give them a tiny consolation prize for having forked out so much money in vain.

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  • OK, it's a stupid proposal, but you've got to admire them for setting up a 'think tank' (was it composed of CoL staff, by any chance?) to pretend that this impartial and disinterested recommendation is anything other than a sales pitch by a massive vested interest. Actually, no you don't - it's pathetic.

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  • Training contracts/articles have always been a form of indentured bondage primarily designed to winnow out the less desirable candidates. How many occupations have a 2 year job interview?
    First, one had to pay to be trained, then a miserly salary was eventually instituted. And now a proper employee relationship ought to exist. If a lawyer is hired then it shouldn't be on a conditional basis of this length.
    I suspect that training is rather variable in many places and with that I wouldn't exclude the big firms. In principle the College of Law is right. It is time for law firms to move from the 19th century to the 21st. We'll let them skip the 20th. There is nothing extraordinary about law that marks it out for this kind of distinctive treatment.

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  • "We only call people who finish the BVC barristers as the vast majority of them will never practise as barristers, so its nice to give them a tiny consolation prize for having forked out so much money in vain."
    Why don't we call LPC graduates solicitors as a consolation prize for their hard work and the money spent? Is it not true to say that to qualify as a barrister you have to pay for you law degree/CPE/GDL and BVC? Exactly the same applies to those who wish to qualify as a solicitor with a difference of LPC instead of BVC. On completion of their BVC so called 'barristers' still have to go through the final stage of training - pupillage, LPC graduates are in a similar position. So why should not they be called solicitors, having done the same amount of work as those who choose to be a barrister. It would only be fair. Whether they will ever practise or not is irrelevant.

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  • For the reasons that have already been put forward in earlier comments, I perceive the LPC to be largely parasitic in nature and, therefore, I should think it more constructive to abolish the LPC, not the training contract! Might not sir well with Nigel Savage's outlandish remarks; however, the the training contract is good for prospective solicitors (experience, etc.) and good for the profession and, at any rate, much more useful than the LPC. I still wonder why should I ever have paid £10k to CoL.

    From a conscientious trainee, /LPC 2008

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  • Legal training provider's think tank advocates more work for legal training providers non-shocka.

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  • I agree with Mr Lebowski that the LPC should be abolished instead of the Training Contract. Hands up everybody who was ready for practice after the LPC. Now hands up everybody who found that they only really started to learn the job during the Training Contract.

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  • In most countries, access to the profession is "filtered" by way of a bar exam - if you are good enough, you will qualify and the only obstacle is really yourself - no structural constraints. In the UK you may be very good but never qualify - maybe because you don't interview brilliantly, or because you have an unusual background and firms didn't know what to make of you, or maybe simply bad luck. Training contracts are a relic of a not too distant past when the only way to get in the profession was to have the right connections - their demise is very much overdue.

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  • The thinking that just because BVC students get to call themselves barristers means that LPC students should also be able to call themselves solicitors is ridiculous. How about scrap calling people barristers after the BVC and instead move it to the end of pupilage?
    Also how about only allowing those students with a training contract offer/pupillage offer to undertake the LPC/BVC.
    Bold?

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  • I agree with Karim above. The US and Australia are two examples of where a training contract does not exist post legal training. Is anyone suggesting that their lawyers are of less quality than their counterparts in the UK. I think not.

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  • This is just a way for CoL to earn more money surely? I dont see how getting rid of 2 years of training will make everyone better trained? Also it will now become more elitist - atm firms will pay LPC fees if you have a TC, therefore even the poorer students can do it. Take away the TC then the firms wont fund the LPC and therefore only rich people will be able to do it. Presumably the CoL 'thinktank' was the finance officer, the pr officer and Mr Savage!

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  • It is not correct to say that Australia has abolished the training contract/articled clerkship. It is possible to qualify in this manner or by further study, typically designated as Practical Legal Training (PLT) which requires on the job training as part of the course (albeit for only a few months).
    It is neither elitist nor undesirable to restrict access to the profession to the best and the brightest, and the suggestion to allow LPC grads to call themselves solicitors is ludicrous as is allowing BVC grads who have never completed pupillage and have no rights of audience to refer to themselves as barristers.

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  • I agree that the training contract should be scrapped. I think that if someone has the determination and ability to obtain a law degree and then to also to complete an LPC ,then why on earth should employers then have the power to basically stop that person from becoming a Solicitor by granting a training contract.or not. Let employers deal solely with employing people! and leave the role of who can become a solicitor or not. down to the results and ability of those those who have passed their legal courses. Then the employer can decide whether they want someone or not . This would have the advantage of giving the person closure and satisfaction. Closure in that they have completed their degree and LPC and have something to show for it i.e. They are a legally qualified Solicitor and the satisfaction of having achieved that , to which no one can take away, whereas it stands now, without a training contract that person has basically studied for years, for nothing.

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  • Surely it would make more sense to scrap the LPC and incorporate it into a training contract (as per accountancy)?

    Studying to become a lawyer, particularly if you have to undertake the GDL, is time consuming and expensive; even if you have a training contract looming on the horizon.

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  • I agree with the comments that it should be the LPC that is scrapped. I think most people would agree that it is during the training contract that they actually learn how to be a solicitor. The LPC gives a bit of information on what you can expect but does not give the skills to actually start doing the job.

    The training contract is no different to an apprenticeship, or to the training on the job that accountants and doctors do. To suggest that someone could start practicing as a solicitor with just the LPC is ridiculous. Who is going to want to instruct anyone whose only experience is out of books, and a couple of mock interviews at college?

    I agree that diversity is needed, but not through abandoning the training contract. All that would happen is that you would have too many qualified solicitors for the positions available and the probelm would simply have moved from people struggling to get training contracts to people struggling to get nq positions.

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  • A firm offering good training with good supervision standards is clearly helping furture solicitors to develop. The real is issue is that so many firms, not simply small high street firms but many US firms too, do not invest in training as they should, and allow people to supervise who simply do not care. The problem is quality control, and as usual the SRA has far from covered itself in glory here.

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  • The LPC should either go or be incorporated into a 3-year Training Contract (i.e. work and study at the same time). As a current LPC student, with one year experience as a paralegal, I can not see the benefits of spending a year away from practical law.

    I feel my experience puts me ahead of many in my class and you can't get experience by sitting in a classroom.

    The LPC is too expensive and this undoubtedly puts competent people off if they can not get a TC which pays for them to study.

    To prevent the problem of those simply with connections but lacking competence getting jobs the SRA could set an exam in each core subject, if you pass you can apply for a LPC-TC your degree grade and the SRA exams would be a clearer indication than A-Levels (currently taken about 5/6 years before a TC is commenced).

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  • It is ridiculous that pple that complete the BVC are called barristers! incredibly pathetic, why giving them a title?
    I have completed my LPC and I do not have a tittle, does that make me a loser? or less important than the so-called barristers? does that mean that I have not worked hard or that I do not deserve to qualify?
    The path to qualification is useless!
    I have also passed the NY Bar as I really want to practice as a solicitor and I am trying not to give up! I am almost completing the 2 years legal experience required to qualify as a solicitor.
    For 2 years I worked and trained at the CAB. the training is recognised by the sra but if it is not run by a solicitor is not enough to qualify!! 2 years i gave of my time and brain! and now.....what do i get? A big NOTHING!!
    The work at the CAB, plus the training (2 years!) we get is incredibly hard plus all the rubbish we have to put up with from people that are offered free legal advice and are stupid enough not to appreciate it!
    this system is so frustrating! if the sra does not change the way to qualify it is pointless to study law, I am now running out of money and options to qualify!

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  • A large number of those undertaking the BVC and called as barristers at the end are from overseas: the earlier comment regarding a 'consolation prize' is at best ill informed.
    However, the CoL suggestion sounds very much like empire building: it would produce an end product with lots of book-learning and little of the practical experience necessary: even 'work experience' placements would be a poor substitute for the present two year contract despite the quality of firms providing such to be highly variable (as equally would any work placement obtained by the CoL). Besides, Training Contracts are available throughout the country whereas the CoL and approved universities are concentrated in far fewer centres.

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  • Here is an idea!!!
    1. Leave things the way they are!!! BUT....
    2. ONLY allow admission to the LPC if you have an offer of a training contract.
    3. Seeing as the LPC is Post Grad degree minus a dissertation, give us some letters after our name.
    This is not going to go down too well with Mr Savage as he has a vested interest in having as many people doing the LPC as possible. Not so much a bottle neck as over saturation of students and we can lay the blame squarely with LPC providers, CoL included. Just because you have passed your LPC does not mean a firm is obliged to employ you. They are a business, same as everyone else and looking after their interest. If you get a TC then great, but don't think you have a god given right to one. I should know, took me ages to get one.
    Plus, there is no substitute for practical experience. The TC in some form or other should stay. It is only after you have gone through it that things will start to click and you are then on the road to becoming a Solicitor. Before that you are simply a processor.
    I know some people will question the logic above, i.e. only people who have an offer of a TC should be allowed on the LPC and therefore reducing the opportunity to some people but surely this is better then the current situation where after the trauma of building debts with other students at University and then further on the LPC with no prospects.
    P.S. being able to call yourself a barrister after the BVC - what is all that about??????

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  • I would agree with Nigel Savage. Doing away with training contracts and enhancing the LPC would make the legal profession more accessible to all law graduates. After spending considerable money and years in law school, it is a shame that UK law graduates do not gain meaningful and internationally competitive qualifications. Qualifying as a Solicitor should not be limited to whether one can secure a training contract or not. It may sound strange to lawyers in the UK but Nigel Savage's proposal is quite common in other jurisdictions. For example to qualify in the US, one only needs to complete law school and pass a state bar exam (both quite challenging). After that, the market forces come into play and one gains further experience whilst working. Yes, there are more people qualifying in law than there are spaces for Training Contracts and Pupillages, but having a legal qualification would make law graduates competitive in other fields for example in-house, in consulting and even as business administrators. UK legal practioners need to become competitive like other 21st century professionals and not dwell on how things have been in the past. The MBA is another example where professional graduates enter working environments without additional training yet the MBA is one of the most versatile and rewarding qualifications at present. Granted the MBA is a graduate degree and most MBA students would have some experience under their belts. However, so do many GDL students. Maybe there is a case to be made for the law being limited to a post-graduate degree. That way only students who are serious about the profession and have some maturity/ experience would enter the profession.

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  • After paralegalling, doing the CPE, LSF and the training contract, it wasn't difficult to conclude that the practical aspects of my training were the most useful pieces of it. Having worked in a US practice where people arrived straight from the Bar exam and become partners 5 years later, the difference in quality between those who had had early practical experience, and those who hadn't, was acute. The training contract gives lawyers space to learn how to practice, without too much pressure. It also enables them to sample different work areas and to use that experience to make a more informed decision on the speciality into which they want to qualify.

    I agree with the comments that it would be much more useful to include the LPC within the training contract. Presumably this wouldn't help Mr Savage's profitability

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  • I quite agree that the training contract for a potential employee is more useful to a law firm than the LPC. However, that training contract is only offered to students who have or will complete the LPC. If the training given by the Law firm is at such a low level that LPC courses are not necessary ( and it can all be outsourced to India), then the LPC should be abolished and firms can then compete for students who don't know the difference between a transactional process and a litigation. However, if the LPC continues, there is absolutely no reason why someone who completes this course should not be able to call him/herself a solicitor. Of course they are - just as engineers or pharmacists who complete their university degrees or teachers who complete a teacher training course. What I find interesting in all of the comments on various articles in this magazine is that the contributors,for the most part, think that lawyers are a special breed of intellectuals. It seems that there is no "History of the Solicitor" taught anywhere. It was/is a vocational career. It does not require much intellect - it is the perfect career for those students who diligently wrote down everything their teachers told them and wrote it back, word for word in an exam.

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  • I think the training contract should be scrapped. Why should people spend so much money obtaining a qualification and not given the chance to enjoy the benefits. Surely you cannot tell me that UK lawyers are better than American lawyers? that will be a real laugh and a joke of the century. The QLTT was introduced and you have a no of foreign qualified lawyers now take the place of people who actually work hard to gain a qualification in the UK; this is totally unfair. The profession is simply too elitist and should be opened up more

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  • The College of Law is not exercising self-interest - and the moon is made of green cheese.

    Training is essential before you let people loose on the public. If that means there is a "bottleneck" - tough.

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  • Students on the LPC come straight from an academic environment and find themselves on an intensive course with exams to pass. Despite the attempt to recreate practice, the setting is a classroom setting with students focussing on just what they need to know to pass the exams. This is far removed from practice. Compare this scenario to that of a trainee solicitor actually working on transactions who is released to attend training sessions. In my experience, a three hour training course in the midst of doing the actual work is worth an entire term of learning in a classroom setting and trying to learn the format needed to maximise marks in the exam. I, therefore, agree with those who advocate scrapping or reducing the LPC and replacing it with accountant-like training on the job and by releasing trainees to attend training sessions. This does mean that students cannot become solicitors unless employed and will limit access to the profession. But is this necessarily a bad thing?

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  • There should be a top up course for LPC graduates. LPC graduates should be able to get a loan to complete their training and qualify as solicitors. They can then apply for jobs. The number of year’s experience of a solicitor will be obvious on an application form. The legal profession is just undermining the education of law and LPC graduates. The legal profession, SRA and colleges of law should show more innovation in order to manage the output of lawyers. It not necessarily true that the market will be saturate with lawyers. We still need to be interviewed for jobs and employers will still specify credentials on job advertisements. Perhaps applicants need to demonstrate other qualities such as work experience; a facility with language or other abilities which would interest the firm. In addition, some LPC graduates are interested in small high street firms. Anyway, this would put less pressure on firms and probably create a more effective service in firms. Any new employees should be part of an induction programme. This training contract idea should be abolished because it is no longer fit for purpose, in my opinion.

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  • I agree that the Training Contract should be scrapped altogether, because it is (1) a GREAT obstacle for many young (potential) lawyers, and (2) it places UK graduates in a disadvantaged position when compared to law graduates from US, Germany, France etc.
    1.) A vast majority of training contracts is provided by large City/US law firms... these are the most sought after and best remunerated training contracts. However, although these large City/US law firms seem to cover almost all aspects of law, their London offices predominantly focus on Corporate/Financial law. Therefore, if a student is really interested/specialised in the fields of EU/ International (public) Trade/ Public International Law, then he/she has to go to LPC, there do the 'City options' and then spend at least 1 year of the training contract in the area of commercial/corporate law before being able to transfer abroad... At the same time, these large (magic circle/US) law firms have offices also in Brussels/Geneva offering an entry level positions, conditioned upon being a member of the bar/qualified, thus not accessible to UK graduates (or those who completed LPC) while being available to counterparts from US/Belgium/Germany etc. This is unfortunate, as the top UK talent choosing to pursue non- M&A/Corporate/Financial law path does not have the opportunity to work for the best right away...--> waste of time & resources....

    2.) After my LL.B. I have completed a prestigious international trade law/public international law / EU regulatory law course outside of the UK. In a class of about 50 students, we were two UK graduates... both of us finished in top 3 of the class receiving summa cum laude/1st class degree... However at the end of the course we were not able to secure any meaningful legal job in the area, unlike our classmates from USA/Switzerland/ Germany/ Brazil etc., most of whom had worse grades, as all the relevant international organizations (WTO, UN, UNCTAD, EC...) condition the jobs in their legal departments upon being "qualified to practice law in their home country/ member of the bar" although no-work experience are often necessary... the same applies to all law firms in Brussels/Geneva specialising in these areas of law... which means we have to now go back to the UK ... do LPC (probably self-funded) and then try to 'persuade' the recruiters at City law firms that we have a genuine interest in commercial/financial law...even thought we just spent a lot of time and money demonstrating otherwise... this seems to be extremely challenging at the moment....

    Thus, my final observation is that, although scrapping the Training contract will not increase the number of positions available to young lawyers in the UK/London... it will enable many students to work as lawyers in Brussels (where there are many legal job opportunities) or international organizations, where they would be on equal footing with NQs from other jurisdictions... I am already very stressed/saddened about having to deviate from my area of interest/expertise for at least another 2 years... provided I will mange to get a TC at all....

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  • i also agree that LPC should be abolished. Training in a firm in far better than theory. Why have to study for something one does not want to specialise in eg business law and practice. from my experience i do not know anyone who specialised in the core subjects of the LPC. students usually complain about studying the core subjects

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  • This debate is pointless.
    People want the LPC scrapped just because they cant find a training contract and they want the title solicitor. If you have the title so what??
    At end of the day there are not enough solicitor jobs because too many people are trying to get in. Scrapping the training contract will not change that.
    The only sensible solution is to match supply with demand. What is required is to limit the LPC to those people that are able to get a training contract.
    Harsh as it may seem, some people just have to accept that they are not going to make it. That is the consequence of oversupply.

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  • I passed The LPC. I found it was a scam and those with Training Contracts were allowed an easier ride. One of the most dodgy qualifications in a dodgy profession. Avoid going anywhere near it. become a dentist instead. Or work in a shop. You will do better.

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