Most trainee solicitors think that the legal practice course (LPC) has prepared them for legal practice, a new survey has shown.
The results arguably run contrary to the sentiments coming out of the ongoing Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) that the LPC is not preparing students adequately.
The survey of 206 trainees by graduate recruitment website Targetjobslaw.co.uk found that 23% said the LPC prepared them very well, and a further 68% said quite well.
Trainees found getting to grips with IT and filing systems to be two of the more difficult aspects of adjusting to work and said “they would like this to be better covered by the LPC”, the survey reported.
At the same time, it found a “pretty general feeling” that the law degree/graduate diploma in law could have prepared students better for work, with 28% saying it had not done so at all well; however, it did not ask undergraduates whether they thought it should do that.
Researchers also probed the factors behind trainees choosing their firm, with reputation cited as the main reason by 44% – higher than in other sectors. The other key factors were “the people I met during the recruitment process” (24%), the training and development offered (11%), and the type of law practised at the firm (10%).
The survey also highlighted the importance of vacation placements, with 48% having a placement at the firm they ended up joining.
Targetjobslaw separately surveyed 705 undergraduates, who said the intellectual challenge was what most attracted them to a career as a solicitor (27%), followed by the salary and benefits (17%), sense of justice (14%) and working with clients (14%). Just over a third were also considering a career at the Bar, while 43% were thinking about a career outside of law altogether, which the survey said may be down to the competition for training contracts and pupillages.
The key factors undergraduates take into account when choosing a training contract are areas of practice, location and reputation – salary came sixth on the list. Only 17% said they were not considering a training contract outside of London.
The survey emphasised how important students viewed work experience to be in securing a training contract, with 73% saying it is “critically important”. However, over 90% said it was difficult or very difficult to find a vacation placement, with many looking for other ways to get some experience, such as attending law firm events and volunteering at law centres and Citizens
Chris Phillips, publishing director at GTI Media, which is behind the Targetjobslaw website, said: “Students from all sectors complain that there is not enough work experience to go around but the would-be lawyers are suffering especially and are therefore more vociferous than other undergraduates.
“To their credit, those who are struggling to get formal internships have realised that any form of employer contact is valuable when it comes to competing for training contracts.”
- Professor Gus John, an international development and education consultant, and “social investment expert”, is to chair a new equality and diversity and social mobility group set up to provide specialist advice and guidance to the LETR. He is an honorary fellow and associate professor at the Institute of Education, University of London and was for four years external evaluator for the Law Society of its performance in promoting equality and human rights.