Lawyer2B.com has lined up an expert panel answer all your questions on the new-look LPC.

The LPC is changing. So make sure you don’t submit your Central Application Board form without checking out the advice on offer from some of the country’s leading law schools.

Why is the LPC such an expensive course?

With the LPC, you largely get what you pay for. There is a price differential between law schools so ask the providers you visit what services they provide and what IT IS your fees are paying for. Giles Proctor, Kaplan Law School

The LPC isnt expensive if you think of the return on your investment. It is a higher level, professional qualification – compare it to other professions and other high level qualifications. Collge of Law

In essence its because we provide excellent resources. You learn in small group sessions, led by experienced vocational tutors who are solicitors themselves and you are based in dedicated LPC offices. The library and online resources are extensive and sophisticated. All books are included. Having said all that, there is a significant variation in fees across the different providers. We do our best to keep costs down wherever possible and our course fees are lower than those of our leading competitors. Kerry James, Bristol Institute of Legal Practice

What changes has your law school made to its LPC in light of 2009?

Were running an LPC that offers students choice and flexibility to pursue different pathways through their LPC, whether corporate, commercial, legal services or a mixture. The key is that students only choose their pathway at Nottingham-Kaplan after they start with us so students can talk to us first and get some advice on what suits them best. Giles Proctor, Kaplan Law School

We already lead the field in terms of offering the most practice-based routes to help you secure your training contract, multiple part time options and, most of all, innovative learning methods such as i-tutorials. These are proven to increase retention and also give you maximum flexibility as to how and when you learn. Were also responding to requests from practice by increasing our focus on practical legal skills training and providing an Introduction to Professional Practice as part of our LPC to develop commercial and professional awareness. College of Law

We were determined to keep our emphasis on excellent face-to-face teaching and student support, because our research shows thats what is important to students and the profession. Weve streamlined our full-time course just enough so that you can choose to limit your time on site to two intensive days or four half days each week and for the rest of the time you can work around your personal commitments. Lectures will be optional. Our student population is diverse so we offer a broad-based compulsory stage (Stage 1) and the widest choice of 15 subjects so that you can specialise in the elective period (Stage 2). Kerry James, Bristol Institute of Legal Practice

Assuming I only complete the compulsory stage of the LPC, how long can I leave it before I have to take my elective subjects?

The whole LPC must be completed within five years of sitting the first assessment. Giles Proctor, Kaplan Law School

Youll have a total of 5 years to complete Stage 1 and 2; this will start from the date of that the first assessment is presented. Our view is that the sooner you pass both stages, the better your chances are of securing your training contract. Whilst we recommend studying Stages 1 and 2 together, we already have the widest available range of part-time options which would be most appropriate for Stage 2 students; this includes our new S mode (currently being validated) which will be the first ever mode with 1:1 support and supervision. College of Law

Will it be possible to start a training contract after only completing the compulsory stage of the LPC?

Depending on the outcome of the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) consultation, and depending on how the law firms ultimately structure their programmes, it could be an option for students at Nottingham and Kaplan. Giles Proctor, Kaplan Law School

Not at present if you do a full-time LPC. Were waiting for the SRA to confirm if or when this might change. College of Law

There seems to be some confusion about this issue. Initially the SRA informed providers of the LPC that students would be able to start a training contract before starting the electives stage. However, it now seems that the final decision on whether that can happen will be taken after the work-based learning pilot is completed in two years time. Kerry James, Bristol Institute of Legal Practice

I havent got a training contact yet? Shall I apply for the LPC anyway? What are the chances of picking up a training contract during the LPC?

It depends what type of lawyer you wish to be. The CPS, Local Authorities and the smaller general and high street practices generally only recruit during or after the LPC. The larger corporate/commercial practices generally recruit two years in advance, although some recruit one year in advance. Over the past few years, some of these practices have also topped up their trainees during the LPC, but thats less likely in the current economic climate. If you havent got a training contract but still want to do the LPC, consider a part time course where you can spread the cost and work at the same time, gaining valuable experience. When deciding which LPC provider to apply to you should ask what specific help they give their students to assist them in finding a training contract. Some providers have a better success rate and a better relationship with firms and other organisations providing training contracts than others. Sue Clarke, Nottingham Law School

You need to ask yourself some questions first about your academic attainment and quality of your application. Research the recruitment criteria of the type of firms youre interested in, and ask yourself (a) do you meet them? or (b) if not, can you do anything (such as obtaining work experience) that will enable you to sufficiently improve your application? Every year we take many students without a training contract as we dont offer just a corporate LPC to corporate students -we cover the full mix of legal career options including those most suited to those firms who recruit during or post LPC -and every year our careers service helps many of those students to find legal employment. Your individual chances of picking up a training contract will be unique to you, but in general terms, of students passing the LPC over 85 per cent are either in a training contract or paralegal role. Obviously that figure increases if you have strong A levels and a 2:1 or 1st class degree. College of Law

A significant number of students dont have a training contract when they start the LPC. Many obtain training contracts during the course; others secure them after the course has finished. Past students tell us that nearly everyone who is determined to obtain a training contract manages to get one in the end. No one knows how the economy will affect the situation but the key to success is to refine your applications and pitch them at carefully chosen firms. We will help you with that. Kerry James, Bristol Institute of Legal Practice

I cant afford to do the LPC full-time. What options are available to me?

At the moment the alternative is to study the LPC part time. Most LPC Providers run a part-time programme but the format can vary from provider to provider. Some run at weekends only, others in the evening and some as day release courses. From September 2009, there will be more flexibility. It will be possible to study the compulsory subjects full or part time and then take a break before studying the elective subjects. The electives will be delivered by some LPC Providers in three different formats; full time, part time or by blended learning (a mix of online and class attendance). You can decide to study your electives in a different way to your compulsories and/or at a different LPC provider. Sue Clarke, Nottingham Law School

Almost all providers offer a range of part-time courses which allow you to earn and learn, usually over a two year period. We offer a range of day, evening, weekend and individually supervised options. College of Law

Several institutions offer part-time courses which allow you to combine work and study. For example, our part-time course is exactly the same as our full-time course except that it runs over 2 years. You would attend for a 2 to 3 day study session (Thursday/ Friday/ Saturday) each month, with 10 study sessions in each academic year a total of 42 study days in all across the two years. In addition Bristol Institute and Central Law Training (CLT) will, subject to SRA approval, offer a flexible, part-time LPC delivered at weekends only at key locations across the country (Coventry, Southampton and Manchester). The fee for the course will be competitively priced. Kerry James, Bristol Institute of Legal Practice

I want to apply for a part-time LPC course how do I do that? Do I need to apply through the Central Applications Board?

No the Central Applications Board does not deal with applications for part-time courses. You need to apply directly to the law school.

How many law schools can I apply to through the Central Applications Board?

Three. Some then have sub-choices where there are two or more branches.

What criteria do law schools look for when offering LPC places to students?

Generally, law schools are looking for academic quality as evidenced by degree class and other qualifications including sometimes A Levels and other degrees and commitment to the profession e.g. time in practice, other legal experience or voluntary work. Sue Clarke, Nottingham Law School

Predominantly academic attainment, plus evidence of commitment to the profession. College of Law

Academic qualifications are important, obviously, but we are also looking for dedicated and enthusiastic applicants. We like to see a strong personal statement, explaining your commitment to becoming a solicitor. Kerry James, Bristol Institute of Legal Practice

Got any more questions? Then why not get in touch?