It’s that time of year again, final year law students hurriedly sending their forms to the Central Applications Board to guarantee a place on the Legal Practice Course (LPC)…Course providers fighting for your attention (and your cash) with flashy advertising and shiny brochures….
How will you choose your provider? Location? Reputation? Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) rating? Cost?
Unless you’re one of the lucky few receiving law firm sponsorship, you’re likely to consider all of the above, particularly cost given that the course price can vary from around £4,545 (University of Hertfordshire) to £11,550 (BPP Law School Holborn and Waterloo).
All providers have to meet the same standards laid down by the SRA so is there really any justification for such a discrepancy in fees?
The answer is that it’s hard to tell, given the lack of independent information on postgraduate law schools and the courses they provide. For better or worse, the market is dominated by major players BPP and the College of Law, with many students assuming that the institutions which advertise the most (and charge the highest fees) must be the best. Indeed, given the unfavourable ratio of training contracts to applicants it is perfectly understandable that students want a well known brand on their CV.
However, the financial commitment of undertaking the LPC following undergraduate studies (which could land you in debt of up to £40,000) means that more useful information on LPC institutions (including a break down of where your fees go and whether the course constitutes value for money) is essential if prospective LPC students are to enter the course with their eyes wide open.
Even more importantly, the same information must be communicated to the profession, so that students don’t feel the need to pay a premium for a brand on their CV when they may be able to undertake an equally well-regarded course for less cash.
The Junior Lawyers Division is working to rectify this situation in three key ways. First, we’re campaigning for greater transparency from LPC providers on where your fees go, second we are trying to ensure that the profession is better informed about the different LPCs on offer and finally by representing the interests of LPC students within the profession.