However your provider structures your course, they are required to cover core subject areas which are generally taught in term one. Three of these are substantive rather than practical: Business Law and Practice, Property Law and Practice and Litigation (Civil and Criminal). These subjects will form the majority of your LPC time until the first run of exams so I thought it might be worth setting out the areas you are likely to cover at the beginning. More detailed tips and advice on each subject area will follow.
BLP covers the basics of the law governing businesses within the UK. You will look at business start-ups, partnerships, companies, business finance, insolvency and some element relating to the EC regulation of business, likely competition law. There will be an element of tax plus some business accounts (so get a decent, exam-friendly calculator!) .
The legislation it will be worth getting your hands on now are the Partnership Act 1890 and the Companies Act 2006 (with the up-to-date Table A). As you go through the course tab up the relevant sections of each Act. The Companies Act in particular is a bit of a monster, so being able to get to the section you need quickly will really help. There is also a fair amount of drafting in BLP: partnership agreements, company start-up documents, minutes, security documents. Many of these documents have legal requirements so make sure you have included everything you need to when drafting.
Personally, I found the rules governing the interaction between businesses and the wider world most interesting; how businesses can be legal entities and how this governs their contracting capability. Although a lot of BLP obviously relates to corporate law, understanding the law around business will help you build relationships with business clients and allow you to understand what underlying factors are driving them.
PLP is all about conveyancing: either residential, commercial or a combination of both. You are likely to be taken through a conveyancing transaction from start to finish; initial instructions, preliminary investigations, the contract and exchange, post exchange formalities, the transfer and completion, post completion formalities and registration. You will look at planning law, possibly covering commercial leases or sales of part and Stamp Duty Land Tax (more maths!). There are a lot of conduct issues surrounding conveyancing so have your Code of Conduct to hand.
Now, the one subject that most undergraduates seem to dislike is Land Law. It is a very dry subject and at undergraduate level seems difficult to put into any kind of context. Don’t despair! PLP is not a repeat but is a much more practical look at the law. The academic aspects of the subject are not prevalent and you will find PLP revolves around the commercial aspects of selling land. Again, be prepared for some complicated drafting – getting the contract and transfer right is crucial in any sale of land. An example my lecturer often used: imagine buying a multi-million pound country house and discovering your lawyer had forgotten to include the right to cross the field to get to it. Can anyone say ‘law suit’? Most non-specialist law firms will have a property department and skills learnt in PLP will really help you if you find yourself in a seat there.
This element is split into Criminal and Civil Litigation although the emphasis is likely to be on civil as most LPC students are not destined to practice criminal law.
Criminal law is, in my opinion, the glamorous component of the LPC. It covers acting for a client from crime, through the police station, to bail hearings, trial and sentencing. You will learn about the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the powers of the police. Criminal dramas will make sense and you will find yourself watching police shows noting where they have broken their investigatory powers. As I said, most LPC students will not become a criminal litigator but it is certainly fun to pretend!
Civil litigation, on the other hand, is the dry cousin of gritty criminal. The course will revolve around the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and you will soon understand how much regulation there is of litigation. The upside of this is that the stages of litigation are mapped out for you, as long as you follow the relevant CPR (and you can work out which apply) you will be halfway there! There is also costs (more and more maths!), which could cover a course on its own.
Civil courses often follow case studies through the term – typically a personal injury case, a complex contract dispute and debt collection – to put a bit of flesh onto the CPR. There are some skills involved such as managing client expectations and tactics which will translate across the board. Civil litigation is a tough one, simply because of the sheer volume of rules to cover and understand. For those budding litigators out there, don’t let it put you off! A litigation seat in your training contract will be more of what you imagined and much less dry.
In the next post I will look at the first practical assessment: Legal Research.[/three_fourth_last]