I have recently started the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and I cannot lie, the first week was probably more stressful than my final undergraduate law degree exams. A pile of books and paperwork, along with a pool of new information all added to the fear of what I faced ahead, but three weeks into the course and I absolutely love it.
I wanted to share a few tips on how I have survived the first few weeks and I really hope that this can help others who may be a bit apprehensive about beginning the course.
It is likely that you will be given some (if not lots) of pre-reading to do before the course begins. Now whilst it is tempting to make the most of the weather whilst you are still on your summer holiday, try and resist temptation. Doing the pre-reading will help you when it comes to having your first LPC sessions. If you get behind at the start of the course, it will be so much harder to catch up later down the line. I know it may seem boring but read, read, read!
When the course begins, you may have preparation work to do before workshops/seminars. You may hear your tutors talk about how important it is to undertake this work and all I can say is listen to them. There is nothing worse than turning up to a workshop/seminar under-prepared as you just will not be able to understand what is going on. You will therefore end up confusing yourself and have to do twice the amount of work after the workshop/seminar in order to catch up. All of this can be easily avoided if you just do the pre-reading and workshop/seminar work in the first place.
I know you have probably heard this time and time again, it’s the classic ‘do not be afraid to share your ideas’ and ‘make sure you get involved in the teamwork’, but the classics are always the best and so true. The LPC really is not a course during which you can shy away. The way to get the most from the course is by making sure you interact with your peers, and do not be afraid to let your ideas be heard. Just remember the saying:’there is no such thing as a silly question!’
I would also recommend that you get involved in some pro-bono work. Now is a great time to be volunteering to help your local community or getting involved in any extra-curricular activities. It looks great on your CV, on training contract applications and if you are already lucky enough to have a training contract; it is bound to impress your new employer which can only be a good thing. It is all good experience for you.
I cannot express hard enough how important it is to be organised on the LPC. In the first few days you will have a vast quantity of information and paperwork being passed to you. If you fail to get all of this information organised as soon as possible, then it will only cause you further stress and be more time consuming further down the line. Your tutors may give you conflicting ideas as to how to organise your material, but I would advise you to organise it in a way which suits you. Therefore the tip is simple: have the folders at the ready and however many folders you think you will need, double it!
Okay so you are only in the first few week of your LPC and may be questioning why I have brought up the topic of exams. Well it is because preparation is key here. Do not be fooled by the prospect of an open book exam. Although you make think that this will make your life so much easier, if you do not use the books in the proper way then it may have a negative impact on your examination.
The book should only be there to be used to jog your memory. What you definitely should not be doing is looking up information for the first time in your examination. I would suggest that you mark up your book extremely well with post it notes and know the book well. This way when you need to look something up you will be able to access it quickly and stress-free. If you start doing this now at the beginning of the course then it means that you do not have to spend hours going through books during revision or consolidation periods. If your tutor points out something important, mark it up. I would place some cautionary advice on this however. Try to avoid marking up every single part of the book because this can lead to confusion. Make sure that you are identifying only the most important parts (for instance in property law mark up the standard conditions of sale as you will be referring to these quite a lot). It is all too easy to rely heavily on your books in the exam but please try to avoid this.
Yes there is lots of work and yes it is occasionally stressful but do make sure that you enjoy the LPC. The course is obviously designed to be tough, we are after all future trainee solicitors but the only way in which you will get the most out of the LPC is through enjoying what you are doing. If you have any problems or you are struggling please do not be afraid to go and ask for help. Remember the institution at which you are studying does not want you to fail, they are there to help in every way possible. Everyone is likely to be stressed during the first few weeks of a new course but just remember, your peers are all in the same boat and likely to be feeling the same. You are not on your own.
Sarah Hinton is studying the LPC full time at the University of West of England. She obtained a First Class Honours in LLB Law from Bournemouth University.