Bristol warns LPC freeze may force course closure

BRISTOL University may be forced to close down its Legal Practice Course (LPC) in the wake of the Law Society's decision to freeze the number of LPC places until 2000.

A complete withdrawal from LPC provision is the most drastic of a number of options being considered by the university following the society's decision, announced last month, to impose a moratorium on the licensing of new LPC places.

The option was contained in an internal paper drawn up for the university's vice-chancellor, Sir John Kingman, by Professor Michael Furmston, the dean of the university's law school.

Furmston told The Lawyer that closing the LPC, which was established by the university three years ago, had to be one of the law school's options, although he doubted it would be forced to take such drastic action.

“The trouble is that the Law Society's decision undercuts the whole of the business plan on which we set up the course,” he said.

“At the moment we have 100 places – but we were always planning to expand to 150 in order to make the course commercially viable and now we cannot do that for at least three years.”

Furmston said another option for the law school was to hold on in anticipation that the Law Society's decision to restrict the number of places on offer nationally to just over 8,000 would force some of the under-subscribed courses to close down.

“I cannot believe that some course will not close because there are providers whose courses are half empty,” he said, adding that there was also a possibility that some Law Schools may amalgamate their courses.

But Furmston was very cautious about the prospects of the law school mounting a legal challenge against the Law Society, a move which has been threatened by the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice.