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Clifford Chance shifts LPC student deal to BPP

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In a move that leaves the University of Law with only one magic circle firm on its books, Clifford Chance joins Allen & Overy in defecting to rival

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Clifford Chance has shaken up the Legal Practice Course (LPC) market by switching allegiance from the University of Law to BPP.

The move leaves the recently-privatised university with only one magic circle firm on its LPC books, following a similar move by Allen & Overy at the end of last year, and the more recent switch about a week ago by Manchester-based top-25 firm DWF.

Clifford Chance (Docklands HQ pictured above) — which this year took on 100 trainees this year — will make the switch from the beginning of next year for the LPC, the same time A&O will move for that course. The firms will shift their Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) students from September 2015.

The firm’s London managing partner, David Bickerton, told Legal Cheek the move was made following a competitive tender. The deal will see BPP provide MA courses as well as the LPC with a business angle to its trainees, which has been developed in conjunction with BPP’s business school.

Commented Bickerton:

“We have had a longstanding and successful relationship with the University of Law and we are grateful for the excellent work they have done with our trainees over recent years, which has contributed to the firm being both the TARGETjobs graduate employer of the year, the first law firm ever to win this award, and The Times‘ employer of choice in law.”

In a statement following CC’s announcement, the University of Law said:

“After eight successful years of delivering the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course to Clifford Chance trainees, the firm has decided, following a re-tender process, to integrate its LPC and business training with another provider. We wish Clifford Chance every success and look forward to working with them again in the future. We continue to work with over 90 of the top UK law firms and over half of the top global firms, many of whom send their trainees exclusively to the University of Law for their training.”

Top-30 firm, Osborne Clarke, also shifted from the University of Law to BPP, making the move in April 2013.

BPP Law School dean and chief executive Peter Crisp said the business element of the LPC was a big lure to top flight law firms.

“City law firms want their trainees to have a good grounding in business finance and strategy and that is what we are offering with the arrangement with the business school,” he commented.

The departures from the UoL — which leaves Linklaters as its only magic circle client — come after the institution shed its charity status in April 2012 and was sold to London-headquartered Montagu Private Equity.

Last February, long-standing chief executive Nigel Savage — the academic credited with turning the College (and now University) of Law into a £75 million-a-year business — announced his retirement. He left at the beginning of the summer, followed by other long-serving senior staff.

BPP has not been without its own relatively recent difficulties. Last March, the law school had its hand slapped by the Bar Standards Board for sending letters to more than 140 prospective students for its bar training course a week before the regulator authorised it to do so.

The law school has also had to deal with criticisms of aggressive marketing levelled at its own private equity backer, Arizona-based Apollo Group. Allen & Overy this year took on 85 trainees, DWF took on 50 and Osborne Clarke took 20.

BPP was founded in 1976 by Alan Brierley, Richard Price and Charles Prior initially as an accountancy school.