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A legal and business postgraduate qualification launched by Reed Smith and BPP last year is to be made available on the open market from this September.
The US firm’s version of the legal practice course (LPC), tailored in co-operation with BPP, integrates legal and business learning throughout the year and leads to a masters qualification, the MA (LPC with business).
The bespoke programme, which allows graduates to study commercial and legal aspects in parallel rather than separately, so that they complete the course before starting their training contract, has been piloted at Reed Smith since September last year (2 April 2012).
The firm’s HR director Kevan Skelton said the launch of the course was in response to demand from clients who were looking for more business-oriented legal advice. Consequently the MA LPC focuses on business and commercial needs as well as the technical aspects of being a lawyer.
“It adds the business side and broadens out the learning” added Skelton. “It was developed on the understanding that it would go out to the wider market and from September it will be open to other firms.”
Eighteen Reed Smith students are currently on the MA LPC. Skelton said the response to the course had been positive, with a recent word-association survey highlighting the junior lawyers’ change in attitude towards the business side of the law.
Prior to the students starting the course Reed Smith asked them what they believed it takes to make a good lawyer. At that time, many indicated that technical ability was the most important trait. Asking the same questions after they had studied the business modules revealed that many of the students pointed to commercial awareness and client focus as equally key characteristics of a good lawyer.
“We’re already seeing strong results,” said Skelton. “On average, Reed Smith students’ confidence in having conversations about clients business – not just its legal needs – doubled after the first term.”