A&O unveils fast-track LPC despite fears over two-tier system

Allen & Overy (A&O) has become the latest City law firm to launch a fast-track LPC despite student concerns that such courses run the risk of creating a two-tier training system for would-be lawyers.

The magic circle firm is slashing its LPC, which is run in conjunction with the College of Law (CoL), to just seven and a half months with effect from January 2012.

Training principal and partner David Campbell said: “This is good for our trainees and good for the firm. The accelerated course helps us be a more efficient organisation, but without sacrificing the quality which makes us successful. It means less time between recruiting our new lawyers and having them start with us, and allows our trainees to join us right after the final stage of their studies, which means greater continuity for them.”

A&O’s decision to roll out an accelerated LPC comes just months after rival magic circle firm Clifford Chance announced a similar offering for its future trainees (read article).

Following Clifford Chance’s revelation many students questioned why condensed courses are only available to a select group of students who have City training contracts.

Former CoL LPC student Usman Malik said at the time: “Without giving all students the choice between a fast-track and full-length course, the creation of a two-tier system is inevitable.”

Undergraduates also hit out against only making the accelerated LPC available to students with City training contracts. University of Kent Law Society president Zainul Jussab said: “I think accelerated courses are elitist. Just because you join a certain type of firm, why should you finish the LPC more quickly than everyone else?” (read more).

The only other firms that also offer the fast-track LPC are Linklaters, which is another CoL client and those in the City LPC consortium comprising Herbert Smith, Hogan Lovells, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Norton Rose and Slaughter and May. The City LPC consortium’s fast-track LPC is provided by BPP Law School.

A&O will run two courses in each calendar year – the first in January and the second in July.