Law Society to students: legal career may be too risky

The Law Society is set to launch a campaign warning students to think twice about embarking on a career in law.

The information campaign will target university and secondary school students, and contain information about the cost of legal training as well as the shrinking number of training contracts of offer.

According to the Law Society, 7,000 people completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in 2008, but there are only 6,000 training contracts available this year.

The organisation says the average cost of the LPC is £10,000.

A spokesperson said: “We’re not telling people not to be a solicitor, but we are warning them about the risks and cost implications attached.”

It will also hold surgeries with the junior lawyers division (JLD) to inform would-be lawyers about the practicalities of a career in law.

The campaign comes after the Bar Standard Board (BSB) admitted that it could be forced to abandon plans to introduce a compulsory aptitude test designed to reduce the number of people taking the Bar Vocational Course (BVC).

As reported in Monday’s issue of The Lawyer, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) dubbed the move anticompetitive (27 July 2009).

Such measures are deemed necessary at a time when most law firms, faced with drastically reduced workloads, have made large-scale redundancies.

And the Law Society’s campaign has been welcomed by students trying to break into a profession that was last week dubbed “too elitist” in a government review chaired by Alan Milburn MP (21 July 2009).

Eleanor Pallot, who has just finished the LPC at the University of Plymouth, has applied for over 50 jobs but has so far not been successful in securing a training contract. The best she has been offered is a job as a receptionist at a local law firm.

She said: “I would welcome a campaign from the Law Society that warns students that you can’t just swan into a legal job by getting a 2.1 degree and finishing the LPC.

“With the magic of hindsight I would’ve delayed completing the LPC until the market picks up.”

In addition to offering advice to would-be lawyers, the Law Society will look at systems for keeping student numbers down in other jurisdictions. In Scotland, for example, students cannot undertake the LPC equivalent unless they already have a training contract agreed with a law firm.