The report commissioned by the City Eight found that complaints revolved around the following:
Legal research: this should be emphasised, given that it is a core skill.
Letter writing: general writing skills should be developed; client letters would tend not to be written by trainees, but the ability to prepare a good note or summarise research results was considered important.
Interviewing: not considered a core skill; a disproportionate amount of time was felt to be spent on this.
Advocacy: seen as important as a basic, but also key to developing presentation skills.
Time management: not taught as a discrete entity, but crucial. The general view is that trainees are poor at managing time.
Legal drafting: attracted the most criticism, with the lowest rating of skills. Students should be taught on the correct use of precedents. All firms expressed the view that there is a strong relationship between legal knowledge, research and legal drafting.
Practical problem solving: few LPC questions demand serious knowledge of the law. Not enough emphasis on demanding an integration of research, drafting and problem-solving. The report noted anecdotal evidence from students that tutorials were not intellectually demanding.
Legal subject knowledge: the design of commercial law-based electives was perceived to be poor and patchy and it was noted that themes such as agency, sale of goods, international sales and the law relating to the type of commercial contract work done in the City were not covered properly. Many students at university avoid commercial and company law, perceiving that these subjects are more difficult.
Working knowledge of company law: many students had not laid a foundation by reading company law at university (and CPE students do not do company law). The result of this is that trainees tend to be good at rehearsing procedural and administrative aspects of corporate law, but are in the main poor on the more complex issues. Insolvency, it was felt, should also be covered in greater depth.
Working knowledge of City-orientated civil litigation: exemplar exercises tend to be set more in the context of general practice and are not related to commercial and City work.
Working knowledge of precedents: the general level of the course gave rise to a feeling that the trainee's ability to handle precedents was "questionable" and poor.
Working knowledge of accounts: the consensus appears to be that greater emphasis should be placed on accounts in a corporate context and that the level of coverage of this on the LPC should be increased.
Overall, there is a strong feeling that the course does not prepare students for the demands of legal practice, both physically or intellectually.