‘I’m a future magic circle trainee, yet I’ll be living in an Airbnb during my LPC because I can’t afford London rent’

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One Legal Cheek commenter shares their take on law firm maintenance grants

Scoring a training contract at a magic circle firm is a ticket not just to a healthy salary, but to a helping hand before your training has even began. Firms help soon-to-be trainees throughout their studies, paying both Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) fees and providing maintenance grants while students sit these, too.

Legal Cheek shone a light on this earlier in the week when we exclusively reported that two magic circle firms had upped their LPC maintenance grants by 43%. Now, Freshfields and Clifford Chance give their future trainees £10,000 to sustain themselves during their accelerated LPC, while the remaining trio pay £7,000.

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With many smaller firms unable to front LPC fees let alone living costs, future magic circle trainees are in an enviable position. But, how far does £7,000 actually stretch? One Legal Cheek commenter shared, no holds barred, their take on corporate outfits’ approach to LPC grants, revealing they’ve considered rejecting their training contract offer because of the financial difficulties they anticipate they’ll face during the LPC. We’ve reproduced the comment in full below, let us know whether you agree or disagree below the line.

“As a working class individual who is about to start the LPC, and who holds an offer from one of the three MC firms listed who haven’t increased their grant, I’m genuinely frustrated.

I’ll receive no parental support during the LPC, and despite working since graduating last summer, I’ve budgeted around £30 to live off after I’ve paid rent, bills etc. Currently I cannot even find somewhere to live as my parents don’t qualify to be guarantors, and the amount granted isn’t enough for me to pay my rent upfront in the structure demanded by all letting agencies. I’m fully expecting to have to hop from AirBnB to AirBnB throughout the whole course.

The current system undeniably results in individuals from backgrounds similar to mine to rejecting offers as £7000 to live from in London for 8 months is quite simply impossible. Even with my savings I worry that I’m going to run out of money prior to completing the course, and quite frankly I have no idea what will happen if that occurs. Even at this point I’ve had to consider dropping out, and resultantly lose everything I worked for when attending a shit comprehensive school and university.

I appreciate that firms may not wish to increase their spending on LPC grants, and if so, surely it makes a lot more sense to means test the amount granted. Does it really make sense that I will receive the same amount as someone who’s parents live in London? Or that I will receive the same amount as someone who’s family can afford to pay their rent during the course? I genuinely think not.

The current size of LPC grants undeniably contributes to a lack of social mobility within the legal sector. If firms are serious about this issue, they’ll follow CC and FF.”

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