PDLEGPRA - PGD Legal Practice Course
|Possible interim awards
|Total credits for course
|London Metropolitan University
|London Metropolitan University
|Guildhall School of Business and Law
About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning
The Legal Practice Course (LPC) is part of the vocational stage of training to qualify as a solicitor and can be studied with an LPC provider authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) by students who have already completed the academic stage. The aim of the LPC is to prepare students for work-based learning and to provide a general foundation for practice as a solicitor.
The LPC comprises two stages:
- Stage 1 - Core Practice Areas, Skills, Solicitors Accounts, Wills, Tax and Professional Conduct and Regulation. ; and
- Stage 2 - Three Vocational Electives.
The SRA requires those who are admitted as solicitors to have the knowledge and skills necessary for practice. It does this by specifying the education and training that an individual must complete. These requirements are set out in the Training Regulations 2014 - Qualification and Provider Regulations, which govern all aspects of qualifying as a solicitor from July 2014.
Teaching and Learning
The course aims to place learning, and the techniques of learning, at the heart of the student experience. On completion of the course, students should be capable of applying the learning and techniques of learning in a professional context and so ensure high quality of legal advice.
The course will seek to:
- Mix academic and practice based activity as appropriate
- Make effective use of learning technologies and blended learning
- Embrace student diversity
- Encourage widening participation
- Offer learning support where necessary
Learning and teaching will embody a model of critical reflection in which students are encouraged to build on existing knowledge and experience and reflect on their application in ‘real’ settings. Consequently
Teaching will seek to involve students as active participants
- Learning opportunities will seek to reflect the needs of the diverse student body, which may include a significant proportion of mature students, students from non-standard academic backgrounds, students who have been out of the educational system for a period before returning to complete the academic stage of their training, as well as those with significant experience of work in a legal environment
- Assessments will be aligned with the course learning outcomes and be designed to sustain reflection as they are open book and require the application of knowledge to solve practice based problems
The course will be taught by a combination of Tutor Led Sessions (TLS) and Student Led Sessions (SLS). Both the TLS and SLS will involve up to 16 students. The purpose of each is described below:
TLS will build upon the students’ pre reading. Tutors will explain complex issues and help place issues within the context of solicitors’ practice. Each TLS will have at least one ‘TLS task’, where students engage in an activity based on their pre-reading. Tutors will be encouraged to deliver the TLS in a questioning and interrogatory style. The SLS following on from the TLS is held in the following teaching week to allow students time to prepare and reflect. The SLS are predominantly practical, transactional and student led. The activities therein will build upon the pre-reading, TLS and WebLearn questions. Students will generally be expected to prepare an aspect of the SLS in advance. SLS will also usually contain an unseen activity to develop ‘thinking-on-ones’-feet’. Students will develop their understanding of a topic through practical activities such as role-plays, drafting, advocacy and research where possible, if this is commensurate with the subject matter, if it helps achieve the learning outcome and where there is a sound pedagogical rationale for doing so.
TLS aim to:
- provide an overview of the subject;
- provide orientation by locating the subject matter in the wider context of the course and referring back to the prior learning the students have acquired;
- identify salient features and elucidate more complicated points;
- cross refer to the manual and practitioners texts;
- provide guidance on the application of this information to practice;
- elucidate issues with a bearing on the central themes.
SLS offer more detailed and intensive study of themes introduced in TLS and subsequently pursued in reading and private study. They will be used both to advance, and to clarify and consolidate knowledge and ensure understanding, engaging students more actively in the learning process than in the TLS.
Exercises will test and reinforce knowledge and comprehension. These will be achieved by using “real” practice-based examples of applications of knowledge which may be demonstrated, attempted, considered, analysed and discussed by the students in the whole group or in sub-sets of three or so. As far as possible, students will work with “real” materials, forms, precedents, practitioner texts, facts and sources. They will be expected to consider the ramifications of their actions/advice holistically including issues relating to core areas, as well as issues affecting clients’ overall aims and non-legal options. The aim of the method is to promote better comprehension or know-how by hands-on practice.
The practice context predominates. Aspects of developing transactions may be studied over several sessions, or a case study may develop through a whole subject. The tutor will receive feedback indirectly from the manner of the students’ reaction to the material studied. This will allow the tutors to respond to student need for the remainder of the unit, so giving more control over the form, content and direction of the session to students.
SLS will be the principal opportunity for resolving difficulties of understanding by question and answer between tutor and student, and student to student, to assess learning and verify and advance understanding. This will oblige students to synthesise the knowledge gained in both typical and, as appropriate, atypical practice contexts with dynamic development under the control of the tutor.
The balance between different types of sessions throughout the course gives the optimum support for students according to the type of material being addressed and allows the delivery of all the integrated elements of the course by effective means. There will be sufficient scope for flexibility in sessions to permit genuine participative experiential learning to take place.
The course aims to prepare students to pass the compulsory professional qualification in order to be admitted as a solicitor, to prepare them for the period of recognised training (usually a training contract) and provide a solid foundation for subsequent practice.
Course learning outcomes
The LPC Learning Outcomes are prescribed by the SRA in a document called Legal Practice Course Outcomes – September 2011. It states:
“On successful completion of the course students will have reached a significant stage in the framework of their training towards becoming a solicitor. They will have begun to develop many of the areas of knowledge, skills and understanding expected of a newly-qualified solicitor.”
Legal Practice Course Outcomes
At the end of the course, successful students should be able, under appropriate supervision, to:
- research and apply knowledge of the law and legal practice accurately and effectively
- identify the client's objectives and different means of achieving those objectives and be aware of the financial, commercial and personal priorities and constraints to be taken into account the costs, benefits and risks involved in transactions or courses of action
- perform the tasks required to advance transactions or matters
- understand the key ethical requirements contained in the SRA Principles of Regulation and Code of Conduct, understand where these may impact and be able to apply them in context
demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills in the areas of:
• Professional Conduct and Regulation
• the core practice areas of Business Law and Practice, Property Law and Practice, Litigation and the areas of wills and administration of estates and Taxation
• the course skills of Practical Legal Research, Writing, Drafting, Interviewing and Advising, and Advocacy. Students should also be able to transfer skills learnt in one context to another;
- demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills in the three areas covered by their choice of electives, and
reflect on their learning and identify their learning needs.
(SRA September 2011)
Assessments reflect the Module Learning Outcomes. Ranges of assessment methods, including diagnostic, formative and summative assessment, are deployed which seek to facilitate the development of critical reflection and which enable students to succeed.
(a) Summative Assessments
All summative subject assessments (except those in Solicitors' Accounts, referred to further below) are unseen time-constrained open book examinations with advance disclosure of documents. The examinations take the form of transactional questions, which require the students to analyse given scenarios and to apply the law to the facts of that scenario so as to reflect the realities of practice. As noted below, in Business Law and Practice (BLP), Property Law and Practice (PLP) and Civil Litigation, multiple choice questions are also included in the papers to ensure coverage of the course.
Students are provided with advance disclosure at least one week before the date of the relevant examinations. (There is no reading time in the examinations).
(b) Rationale for Advance Disclosure and Open Book examinations
Advance disclosure of documents is released for all examinations. Examiners are of the view that this more closely reflects the reality of practice as a trainee solicitor. It is a more realistic test of an ability of students to achieve the learning out comes.
The use of open book examinations enables students to refer to permitted materials (including subject manuals and their personal notes), as they would do in practice. This allows for the emphasis to be placed on the application of legal principles and rote-learning is discouraged. Due to the time constrained nature of the assessments; students need to be familiar with their materials and to be able to check particular details, again in a manner that replicates practice.
New information and/or further documentation are contained in all exam papers so that students cannot anticipate questions from the documents disclosed in advance. Students are expected to apply their knowledge of the law to the problem scenarios set, and the method of assessment encourages deep learning.
(c) Skills Assessments
Skills assessments are aimed at assessing the student’s ability to carry out realistic exercises which replicate as closely as possible work of the sort that a trainee solicitor might be asked to carry out in practice at the outset of a training contract. Students are required to demonstrate that they have met the SRA’s Learning Outcomes. They are also expected to demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge of the relevant law to practical problems and to respond appropriately to questions put to them.
The written skills assessments of Writing, Drafting and Practical Legal Research are assessed by way of unsupervised assessments in order to:
- mirror practice;
- maximise the use of resources (particularly in the context of Practical Legal Research); and
- provide an opportunity for students to effectively demonstrate their skills in a context other than a formal supervised examination.
In relation to the last point, it is recognised that all students should enjoy an equal opportunity to display their learning through a diversity of assessment formats. This is of particular importance to disabled students, for example dyslexic students, who may find that the challenges resulting from their condition are compounded by the pressures of a time-constrained assessment.
Further information is provided on each of the skills assessments below.
(d) Formative Assessments
Formative assessment is at the heart of the assessment strategy and learning experience. It ranges from formal mocks to informal classroom activities. Students are provided with formative assessment opportunities throughout the course to ensure they are fully prepared for the summative assessments. Further information is given below in respect of the formative assessment opportunities for each of the subjects and skills assessments. The formative assessments are designed to familiarise students with the nature of the summative assessments, inform them as to their progress and provide timely feedback. Feedback on formative assessments is a combination of individual written tutor feedback (and ‘feed-forward’), detailed examiners’ guidance, peer feedback, oral feedback and self-assessment. Feedback is given in the context of the relevant assessment criteria to assist students to identify for themselves areas for improvement and support the development of self-reflective skills. The self-assessment opportunities also help students to engage with feedback. Students are further encouraged to seek oral feedback from their tutors.
Students are encouraged to seek feedback on all summative assessments as well as formative assessments. Feedback on summative assessments may be formative in nature.
6. THE ASSESSMENTS
(a) Core Practice Areas
The core practice assessments will usually take place in the third and fourth week of February.
The core practice areas are assessed as follows:
Students sit a 3 hour long transactional-based paper in each of the following subjects:
BLP (including Business Accounts), PLP and Civil Litigation. The paper also includes multiple-choice questions. Students are advised to spend no longer than 1 hour on this part of the assessment.
Students sit a 2 hour long transactional-based paper in Criminal Litigation.
The Civil Litigation paper and Criminal Litigation papers are sat on separate days but must be taken within the same diet of assessments. The marks for the Civil Litigation paper and Criminal Litigation paper will be aggregated to derive the overall mark for Litigation in the ratio of 60%: 40%.
(b) Vocational Elective Subjects
The vocational elective assessments will usually take place in the first and second week of June. Students are assessed in each of the vocational electives by one 3 hour long transactional-based paper.
In order to consolidate learning, students attempt part of a past examination paper in a Large Group Session and complete the paper in their own time. Individual answers are not marked due to time constraints. However, in a Small Group Session, students self-assess their performance by reference to the written examiners’ guidance and may seek further guidance from tutors.
(c) Skills Assessments
The Skills are assessed on a competent/not yet competent basis. Students are given full written feedback (on both a summative and formative basis) indicating which, if any, of the assessment criteria have not been met and containing suggestions for areas of improvement. Students who are assessed as not yet competent are encouraged to seek oral feedback from the tutor who assessed their work.
The Skills are assessed as follows:
Practical Legal Research (PLR)
PLR is assessed once by way of a written assessment. The assessment is linked to Litigation.
At the beginning of the course, students are given a formative PLR Assessment. Tutors individually mark this and students are given full individual written feedback, supplemented by oral feedback where requested.
Legal Writing and Drafting
Students are assessed twice in Legal Writing and Drafting by way of written assessments. Legal Writing is linked to Property Law and Practice. Drafting is linked to Business Law and Practice.
In advance of the Legal Writing and Drafting Assessment, students are given a formative Drafting Assessment.
Interviewing and Advising
Students are assessed once in Interviewing and Advising. The assessment takes the form of an interview of a client in the context of Wills and Administration of Estates.
Students are all required to undertake practice role-plays and mock interviews in Wills and Administration of Estates, Interviewing and Advising. Students are given individual oral and written feedback by the tutor and their mock interview is recorded to allow students to self-assess their performance. They also receive peer feedback immediately following their mock.
Students are also assessed in Wills and Administration of Estates during the Interviewing and Advising assessment and a separate result is recorded. Students will not be able to pass Stage 1 of the LPC until an award of competent has been achieved in Wills and Administration of Estates.
Students are assessed once in advocacy. The assessment takes the form of a mock court hearing in the context of either Criminal or Civil Litigation.
Students are required to undertake practice role-plays and mock assessments in advocacy. They are given individual feedback by the tutor and have their mock assessment recorded so that they can also self-assess their performance. They also receive peer feedback immediately following their mock.
(d) Professional Conduct and Regulation
Professional Conduct and Regulation is assessed on a competent/not yet competent basis. It is assessed both discretely and through the medium of the core practice assessments. At least 5% of the marks available in the core practice assess
Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad
There is a work experience week during which students are encouraged to participate in one of a range of practice-related activities organised by the LPC tutors. These activities provide students with valuable professional experience and enhance their employability.
Course specific regulations
LPC ASSESSMENT REGULATIONS 2014-2015
1.1. These regulations shall be read together with:
a. London Metropolitan University Academic Regulations, including Regulations governing Appeals against Decisions of Assessment Boards; and
b. the requirements and regulations of the Solicitors Regulation Authority; and
c. the LPC Assessment Strategy
1.2. Where these regulations are silent the London Metropolitan University Academic Regulations apply. Where there is a conflict between these regulations and London Metropolitan University’s Academic Regulations these regulations take precedence.
1.3. Except where the context otherwise requires, the principles contained in the Interpretation Act 1978 shall apply to the interpretation of these regulations.
1.4. Without prejudice to the generality of regulation 1.3, in the event of uncertainty or ambiguity arising from the interpretation of these regulations, an interpretation which favours the student shall be preferred to one which does not.
2. The LPC Board of Examiners
2.1. The operation of the assessment process shall be subject to control by the Legal Practice Course (LPC) Board of Examiners, which consists of:
- the internal examiners and
- the external examiners appointed by the University as provided in the University regulations.
2.2. The Chair of the LPC Board of Examiners is the Team Leader of the Legal Practice Course or his/her nominee.
2.3. The Vice Chair of the LPC Board is the member of academic staff responsible for assessments or his/her nominee
2.4. The quorum for a meeting of the LPC Board of examiners is one third (30%) of the members eligible to attend and at least one external examiner
2.5. The terms of reference of the LPC Board of Examiners is:
- To act as the Subject Standards Board for the LPC;
- to confirm marks and grading awarded to a student who has undertaken a Legal Practice Course Assessment;
- to approve the Transcript for each student;
- to make recommendations to the University awards Board for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice on successful completion of the Legal Practice Course and the award of such Diploma with Distinction or Commendation in accordance with Regulations 7 to 9;
- to determine whether a student has exceeded the time limit for completing assessments;
- to determine what action shall be taken in the case of a student failing or not sitting some or all of the Legal Practice Course Assessments which they have elected to sit;
- to make recommendations (within the constraints of the external control exercised over the course by Solicitors Regulation Authority) on any matters concerned with the Assessment Strategy;
- to be responsible for determining actions in terms of the effect, if any, of circumstances related to the delivery or assessment of a unit of study adversely affecting the performance of a whole cohort or a particular sub-group of students in an assessment or unit of study as a whole;
- to determine applications for extenuating circumstances;.
- to be responsible for such other matters as are referred to it by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, or by the Academic Board or its sub-committees of the University.
2.6. Attendance at all formal teaching sessions is compulsory. The LPC Board of Examiners may, in its discretion, determine that a student who has failed to attend formal teaching sessions without the approval of the LPC Team Leader shall not be permitted to take assessments or, having taken an assessment, that attempt shall be disregarded. When a student is for good reason unable to obtain such approval before the period of absence, the student should seek the approval of the LPC Team Leader as soon as they are able to do so. Students shall be required to produce medical evidence when the absence is on medical grounds.
2.7. It shall be the responsibility of students to ensure that the work they submit for assessment is entirely their own and that they observe all rules and instructions governing examinations. Any allegation of student misconduct including academic misconduct’ includes all forms of cheating, plagiarism and collusion shall be dealt with under the University’s Academic Regulations. Any student found to be guilty of academic misconduct shall be subject to the provisions of those Regulations. In addition, the LPC Board may determine whether to refer a student who is found to have committed academic misconduct to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
3. Assessment Scheme
3.1. The LPC comprises stage 1 and Stage 2. To pass Stage 1 a student must pass the Core Practice Areas, Professional Conduct And Regulation, Solicitors Accounts, the Skills And Wills and Administration of Estates.
To pass Stage 2 a student must pass 3 different vocational electives.
Stage 1 - Core Practice Areas
3.2. Business Law and Practice, Property Law and Practice and Litigation shall each be assessed by way of one core practice area assessment lasting a minimum of three hours. A core practice area assessment shall take the form of an examination or some other form of supervised assessment.
3.3. Each core practice area assessment may be split into two parts, and in that event:
- each part may take place on different days
- the two parts shall be within the same period of assessment
- one assessment mark shall be derived by aggregating the marks from the two parts
- for all purposes in these regulations, the two parts constitute one core practice assessment and a student must take both parts of the assessment - one part cannot be ‘carried over’ to a later assessment period
- a minimum of 5% of marks in each core practice assessment shall be allocated to Professional Conduct and Regulation.
3.4. There shall be two parts to the Litigation assessment, one Civil and one Criminal, with the marks for each aggregated to derive the overall mark in the ratio of 60:40%.
Stage 1 - Professional Conduct and Regulation
3.5. Professional Conduct and Regulation shall be assessed in two ways:
- a discrete assessment which shall last for a minimum of two hours and which shall be taken during the final assessment period of Stage 1 of the course and
- within each of the three core practice assessments in which at least 5% of the marks shall be allocated to Professional Conduct and Regulation.
The marks are not aggregated: a student must pass the discrete assessment in Professional Conduct and Regulation in order to pass the subject.
Stage 1 - Solicitors' Accounts Rules
3.6. The Solicitors’ Accounts Rules shall be assessed separately under supervised conditions. The assessment will last for two hours. No materials are permitted save an unmarked copy of the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules.
Stage 1 - Skills
3.7. Each of the five Course Skills of Practical Legal Research, Writing, Drafting, Interviewing and Advising and Advocacy shall be assessed once.
- Interviewing and Advising shall be assessed together
- Advocacy shall be assessed in the context of either Civil Litigation or Criminal Litigation or both
- Each skills assessment may be combined with:
- Core practice area assessments, in which case a mark shall be given for the core practice assessment and a competent/not yet competent decision made for the skills element
- One or more other skills assessments, in which case separate competent/not yet competent decisions shall be given for each skill
- Each skill shall be assessed on a competent/not yet competent basis.
Stage 1 - Wills and Administration of Estates
3.8. Wills and Administration of Estates shall be assessed once during the course in the context of the Interviewing and Advising assessment. A separate result for Wills and Administration of Estates of competent/not yet competent will be recorded on the student’s transcript. A student will not be able to pass Stage 1 of the Legal Practice Course until an award of competent has been achieved.
Stage 2 - Vocational Electives
3.9. Each Vocational Elective shall have one assessment lasting a minimum of three hours. An elective assessment shall take the form of an examination or some other form of supervised assessment
3.10. The elective assessments may be split into two parts, and in that event:
- each part may take place on different days
- the two parts shall be within the same period of assessment
- one assessment mark shall be derived by aggregating the marks from the two parts and
- for all purposes in these regulations, the two parts constitute one elective assessment and a student must attempt both parts of the assessment – a mark for one par
Modules required for interim awards
Students are required to take all of the Stage 1 Core Practice Area, Skills, PCR and Solicitors Accounts Modules. They are required to take 3 of the Stage 2 Vocational Electives Modules.
Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development
Students are advised from the outset of the course to consider their career pathways, in consultation with the LPC tutors and other career advisers within the University. A Careers Fair is run every October when tutors are available to advise on their specialist areas and career options in general.
Students are also encouraged to reflect on their own learning and development throughout the course. At the end of each teaching session, tutors review the specific learning outcomes for that session with the students who then give feedback on their progress and understanding. Regular self- assessment of work takes place with the use of examiners’ guidance and suggested answers to enable students to better engage with assessment criteria and identify for themselves their own development needs.
Students keep a portfolio of formative and summative assessments which contain detailed comments on areas for development
Arrangements on the course for careers education, information and guidance
Each student is designated a “Professional Mentor” to provide individual advice and guidance. We offer a number of work placements within solicitor’s firms, at court or within not for profit organisations to enhance their CV and give you an insight into the world of work. We run regular workshops on tailored CV writing and interview technique.
London Metropolitan University Student Services (Careers) has Careers Consultants who are available to see LPC students. There is a named link contact, Neelam Thapar who is an experienced careers practitioner and coach and is also the Head of Careers and Employability Service and students can also arrange to see any of the Careers Consultants for advice and guidance about securing legal experience and training contracts to help develop their professional career.
Careers Consultants hold individual appointments to discuss individual careers guidance supporting career planning , researching firms for legal experience and training contracts, legal focussed CVs, applications in particular also addressing the needs of firms that require competency based evidence, interviews for legal experience and training contracts, networking to make an impact including online and so forth. Appointments are held in the Careers and Employability Service in the Ground Floor Library and Careers Consultants also work with the Course Team to deliver mock interviews and other initiatives through specific career development focused weeks.
Students can register with Careers and Employability Service to receive relevant legal and other vacancies and volunteering/pro bono opportunities through the Job Shop and the Careers and Employability team regularly hold workshops and guest speakers’ sessions that LPC students are able to attend.
Students can also apply for the Careers and Employability Service Mentoring Scheme, which includes legal professionals, and apply for Business and Legal Club training at companies in the City and Canary Wharf through a well-established partnership that the Service has with East London Business Alliance.
The Careers and Employability Service also deliver employability skills training workshops that LPC students can attend in skills such as communication, teamwork, meetings, and project management amongst a range of others.
The Faculty have a Placements & Employability Unit (PEU), which is committed to helping LPC students gain relevant work experience. It is creating links with local solicitors and not-for-profit organisations to provide relevant opportunities to help enhance students' CVs and network with legal professionals. The PEU offers application preparation support for students applying for these work experience roles.
The Unit is additionally assisting in developing a Pro Bono Advice Clinic using local solicitors to provide guidance on legal queries. This will allow LPC students to observe professional practice.
Other external links providing expertise and experience
There are a number of links with law firms which operate mentoring schemes and offer work placements through the Faculty Employability Unit.
Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) accreditations & exemptions
This LPC course is approved by the SRA.
London Met is focused on helping its LPC students obtain a training contract and legal work experience. You will be designated a professional mentor to provide individual advice and guidance.
Our excellent careers team are able to help you with advice regarding training contract applications and preparation of your CV, as well as by providing mock interview practice which will help you find valuable work placements and pro bono opportunities to enhance your CV and establish contacts with the solicitors' profession.
You will be required to have:
- a qualifying law degree awarded by a SRA approved provider with at least second class honours that must include having adequately passed assessments in the seven Foundations of Legal Knowledge: Public Law, Obligations I (Contract), Obligations II (Tort), Criminal Law, Land Law, Equity and Trusts and Law of the European Union, or;
- if you’re a non-law graduate, a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) or Common Professional Examination (CPE) having obtained overall average marks 50% or above
Applicants are required to provide a copy of the award certificate and transcript of results for their entry qualification. Additionally, applicants with a Law degree are also required to provide a letter from the awarding University to confirm that they hold a qualifying law degree. Further information on what a qualifying law degree is can be found on the SRA website.
All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.
Official use and codes
|Approved to run from
|Original validation date
|01 Sep 2013
|Last validation date
|01 Sep 2013
|Sources of funding
|HE FUNDING COUNCIL FOR ENGLAND
|M250 (Legal Practice): 100%