Catherine Gifford

This University West of England LPC student is working part-time to fund her studies and wants to be part of Bristol’s fast developing business community.

Catherine Gifford

Name: Catherine Gifford

Undergraduate University: University of Manchester

Undergraduate Degree: Psychology

Why did you decide to do the LPC? I had been working since my undergraduate degree in a job that did not have potential for progression and I wanted a career that was more intellectually challenging and would give me a wide variety of potential for a career. I therefore took the GDL and once completed, applied for the LPC.

Why UWE? It has an excellent reputation for the LPC, it is competitively priced compared to its competitors in the city and also I live in Bristol and so wanted to remain in Bristol.

Why did you choose Bristol to study in? I have strong ties to Bristol as I grew up here and was also working here for several years before commencing the LPC. I therefore wanted to remain here with my family and friends.

In addition, in terms of the legal sector, Bristol is rapidly emerging as one of the top commercial centres outside of London and is attracts the highest quality of work. I find this development of Bristol as a hub that is attracting the top calibre of the legal sector extremely exciting and something that I want to be part of. Bristol is a fast developing vibrant capital of the South West and I want to begin my career in law in exactly this type of environment.

Do you have a training contract lined up? No, I am making applications at the moment for a training contract in Bristol and have some placements lined up for the summer with commercial firms.

How are you funding the course? I am self-funding the course using money saved from previous employment and am also working part time whilst I study.

How does the LPC differ from your degree and/or GDL? Has it been a steep learning curve? Having completed the GDL last year, I was used to the intensity of a 9 month course however the learning style is very different. It is a much more practical course, without the theoretical knowledge and essays that a degree and the GDL contain. There is a much greater focus on developing the skills required for a solicitor rather than the knowledge. These include interviewing, advocacy, writing and drafting. It uses the knowledge gained in an undergraduate degree and puts it into practice with how you would go do things as a solicitor in a firm. For example when advising a company, or carrying out a purchase of a property.

What is the social life like? The social life is different from an undergraduate degree as a lot of the students live at home and commute from outside Bristol and so there is not the same social scene that living in a student environment has. However, we do organise nights out and events throughout the year.

What about pastoral care, such as the careers service? There have been a lot of events arranged such as talks from graduate recruiters from Bristol firms on applications and interviews. There is also a commercial awareness group with a newsletter that is written by students to increase awareness of commercial issues. In addition, everyone has a tutor who we meet with approximately once a term to gain careers advice and who will look at our CVs and advise us on how to improve them.

What top tip would you give to someone who is considering applying for the LPC? I would advise them that they need to be passionate about pursuing a career in law as it is hard work, especially if you are also intending to work part time (which is do-able as long as you are organised). Also, as it is so competitive to gain a training contract, this also requires a lot of work to apply alongside studying. However, if it is what you want to do then it is a very good course, and I feel it is setting me up well for practice. Also, the support gained for gaining a training contract is invaluable.