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The Solicitors Regulation Authority has approved plans for a new course that will reduce drastically the cost of legal education.
The five-year pilot course, which will be run by Northumbria University, will allow students to qualify as solicitors in five years rather than the usual six by combining all levels of legal education with professional training.
Northumbria University associate dean for undergraduates Kevin Kerrigan said: “We’re trying to push the boundaries of how you can qualify as a lawyer and are interested in how a university can play a significant role in qualification.
“Next year  the first students for a generation will qualify as solicitors without having completed a formal training contract, and we hope their profile will be of some interest to law firms.”
The move coincides with the continuing fragmentation of the legal market, with many LPC providers rolling out alternatives to the full-length LPC, such as BPP Law School’s seven-month version.
The aspiring solicitors enrolled on the Northumbria course will be exempt from the LPC, which costs around £9,000, and will instead complete their work-based learning (the equivalent to the training contract) during the course of their studies.