So you've just started the LPC, just one more year of studying and that elusive training contract is in your grasp. But before you get there you have to combat exams in January, February and March, the terrifying thought of skills sessions in front of your fellow students, making sure you take part in pro-bono programmes so your CV is impressive and actually applying for training contracts. Then of course, there's your part-time job which funds Saturday nights, trying to maintain some form of social life, and finally, that big black cloud overhead - the extortionate amount of debt you have accumulated which soon needs to paid back.
Phew, that's a lot to think about. Thankfully, at City, whilst there's no guarantee your social life will be quite as it was as an undergraduate, you will be supported through most of your worries, which might just make that Saturday night drink a little more enjoyable.
The exam schedule will be available as soon as you start, which means that you can plan a revision schedule as early as you like. Yes, there are a lot of exams, but careful planning will make them more bearable. If you fear a particular exam, or find the subject tricky to grasp, you can talk to your personal tutor, the subject lecturer, or even the lecturer you get on well with to ensure you are up to speed.
The lecturers at City will go into detail about the examination methods for each subject and skill so that you know what to expect for each. And if when exam period approaches you do have any queries, the lecturers are on hand to answer your questions, provided the advanced papers have not been issued.
As an undergraduate, you've written your fair share of essays. However, it’s unlikely that you've been required to draft, write letters or practice any of the oral skills assessed on the LPC. This means these skills can be daunting, particularly when practicing in front of your peers. At City, the library is stocked with manuals and DVD's to help you in the comfort of your own home and in your own time.
Dedicated skills sessions provide you with the opportunity to learn from others and receive personal feedback so that you can improve your performance. Another advantage of the skills sessions is that they are carried out in small groups - you have time and contact with the lecturers in which to learn more than just the basics.
Whilst some students on the LPC will know students from their undergraduate courses, or perhaps live in London already and have a good social network, regular social events run at City. Of course these are optional, but at City pretty much all of the students will attend. The social events (which are admittedly often just drinks in the local) ensure that the atmosphere in the study room and in sessions is bubbly and interactive. At City you will have the opportunity to meet previous students for hints and tips. You will also build good relationships with the lecturers, who take a genuine interest in you and your career.
City's Pro-Bono programme runs in conjunction with the programme at the main University. This means that you could continue a programme you have already taken part in, or take up a new one. The pro-bono fair allows you to talk to representatives from each programme, so that you can make a choice as to the programmes which will benefit your career path. The diverse range of pro-bono programmes also means that you can select a programme to improve a skill you know you are lacking in. For example, you may wish to gain administrative experience, advocacy experience or experience in research. Many of the programmes do not require a set commitment, providing you with flexibility as to when you fit your pro-bono work in. Sarwan Singh, the pro-bono director at City is available to discuss the programmes with you, and his developed networks mean that you gain exposure to various legal professionals through the pro-bono programmes.
If you have an imaginative streak, or a cause you are passionate about, City provides a programme whereby you can start your own project.
By far one of the most advantageous aspects of taking the LPC at City is the advice and support you receive in applying for training contracts. TCAS - the City advice service offered by the Law School lecturers provides a detailed guide to filling in application forms, writing your CV and covering letter and interview technique. The lecturers will also review your applications before you send them and carry out mock interviews with you. Applying and interviewing for training contracts is a nerve-wracking experience, which can be even more nerve-wracking if you haven't been given coaching. Whilst mock interviews can be embarrassing, the lecturers who run TCAS are professional during the interview, and provide detailed feedback afterwards.
I am sure that the other Law Schools across the UK will offer similar services to the ones I have experienced at City, and in fact when I visited the other schools in London I was told that they did. However, aside from the services you would expect from a Law School City has one major thing going for it - out of all of the schools I have studied in, I have found my experience at City to be the most enjoyable. This is because the lecturers and other workers in the school go above and beyond to ensure that you are getting the best learning experience; they know your background, your aspirations, your strengths and your weaknesses. No matter whether you will obtain a pass, commendation or distinction, you are taught at your pace, and so that you will improve.
Of course during my year at City I had my complaints about one little thing or another. But when I look back on my time at the school it is with a smile.
My advice to any student considering or about to embark upon the LPC is this - make the most of the support City offer in terms of social events, exams, skills, pro bono and training contracts to maximise what you will gain from the course.
Many thanks to Angela Roberts for this piece. Angela completed the LPC at City in June 2011.