If you are an LPC student, then well done for getting this far already. You are a proud and astute graduate with a good degree, but do not let that be any excuse to be complaisant at this stage. The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is far from a walk in the park, therefore it is vital that any prospective or new student on the LPC should be prepared to adopt a new mindset towards this exam-intensive program of study. Here are six tips which I hope will fill you with confidence prior to you embarking on the LPC.
I know it sounds like the obvious answer but, trust me, there is a reason why this at the top of my agenda. On the LPC your seminars are run on the basis that the student has done all the prior reading and preparation. Preparation is not too difficult to adjust to since the LLB is delivered in a similar way, but a lot of students do not grasp the importance of reading the textbooks. Once I started reading my chapters in advance, my brain was prepared to absorb the insights shared by the lecturing solicitors in the workshops.
2. Organised notes
Try to spend less time on the meaty and substantive content. You should be confident in yourself that you will be able to gloss over the detail when you’re approaching the exams. Don’t forget that you and your peers are holders of a law degree or equivalent at this stage, so your priorities during teaching weeks are to ensure that you have understood the content, by reading the chapters in advance of seminars, and most importantly, by giving yourself the time to recap over your materials before you store them away in a way that is logical to you. You want to be able to pick them back up with ease in a couple of month’s time.
Paper notes or digital form – totally your choice. Call me a tree-hugger but I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be prepared to use software such as OneNote or Teams (just remember to keep a backup). Your institution may already be offering you a license to Office 365, and some even offer digital skills training, so this is a fantastic opportunity to impress law firms with your tech-savvyness – IT literate individuals are always desirable in the professions as they are having to adapt their systems to stay competitive.
3. Submerse yourself
Many students do feel that the LPC is not very academically stimulating, that it is just a matter of memorisation, but this should not deter you. The law in theory is very interesting, but you are one of the many lucky few who will have the opportunity to see the law in practice. Many LLB graduates go off into the world with sound legal education, but they cannot profess to be skilled in navigating the law with the best interests of a client borne in mind.
“Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”
Max Ehrmann – The Desiderata
Make the most of your opportunity by submersing yourself in the subject, this will give you context to whatever it is you are learning. Write your own will, have a look at stocks and shares, ready yourself for the working world! I’m not necessarily advising you to sue a high street retailer or throw your first £1,000 into a FTSE 250 tracker, take caution in your business affairs, but also be prepared to follow your curiosity – wherever it may lead you!
Another handy tip – follow an interesting news story, discuss it with your subject tutor. The world is constantly changing around us, and trust me on this one, keeping up with it in the dawning of the technological age is a real struggle!
4. Be kind to yourself
One thing I have found very difficult over the past four years is maintaining a balanced lifestyle when you want to be seen as standing out from the crowd. Those committed students want to be everywhere at once, engaging in all of the opportunities that law schools throw at us, and often bearing the burden of supporting ourselves, and sometimes even our family members, but there does come a point where you can lose that balance.
Be gentle with yourself and avoid spreading yourself too thin. Your physical and mental health are top priority, and if you aren’t looking after yourself, how are you possibly going to look after your clients?
Don’t forget the basics – plenty of sleep, plenty of exercise, plenty of nutritious food, plenty of water, and make the time for some therapeutic or mindful activities. The brain performs better under these conditions – you don’t need to be a doctor to know this. You might tell yourself “I need to pull an all-nighter for this essay” or “I’ll just have some packet noodles because I need to get back to the library”. Take it in moderation, a balanced lifestyle is key to being able to successfully self-manage. You need to be fit and strong so that clients are prepared to place their trust and faith in you.
5. Work with people
The hardest lesson that University brings is the lesson of working with people. This was a lesson I struggled to take on board, having experienced first hand the trickery that some people would play on one another in order to put themselves ahead. Many students have this “It’s a race” mindset which really made me close up like a book and become the independent and self-reliant learner that I am today.
I often tell myself that you must stand alone in order to observe the crowd, but at some point you will have to take that plunge. University brings together minds from across the country and across the globe, it is the perfect environment to start building confidence, network with peers, and grow your personality. Here is a good article which gives you some practical steps you can take towards building on the personal qualities valued by innovative law firms such as Shoosmiths.
6. Enjoy it
I am certain that many lawyers look back at their time at University and think of many things they wish they did differently. I absolutely love University life – it is a great place to have fun and connect with people by engaging in all of the sports, clubs and societies there are on offer, and I am really going to miss it! There are various work experience opportunities, fairs to fill your boots with freebies and plenty of discounts online and on the high street. So enjoy it and have fun, because it won’t be long until you are part of daily grind!
If you feel you have tips that you feel have worked for you, please share them in the Comments below for the benefit of other readers.