The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is pressing ahead with radical plans to split the LPC into two separate components.
The plans, which have finally been approved by the SRA board, will result in the compulsory courses on the LPC being split from the electives (optional subjects). This would allow students to embark on their training contracts six months early as they could start immediately after completing the first part of the LPC.
The new structure would also potentially help students who fund the LPC themselves to spread the cost of the course as they could take the electives at a later date or wait until they secure a training contract. Students, however, will not be able to qualify as solicitors until they successfully complete both stages of the LPC.
Course providers will be able to offer the new-look LPC from 2009.
College of Law chief executive Nigel Savage said: "We welcome the additional flexibility because it enables us to build on our strategy of customisation."
"But what it means for students is yet to be determined because so far we only have one half the story," added Savage.
The SRA is still reviewing changes to the training contract, which it is hoping to replace with a more flexible period of work-based experience, during which trainees will be regularly assessed against a clear set of standards. This period of work-based learning can be completed in just 16 months, compared with the two-year training contract. However, a pilot that was due to be launched this month has been delayed.