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LPC exam delays will have ‘serious implications’ for training contract holders, junior lawyers warn

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Junior Lawyers Division offers up alternatives including online exams and coursework

Junior solicitors have chimed in on the Legal Practice Course (LPC) exam controversy, demanding that the regulator allow students to sit exams remotely during the coronavirus crisis.

The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) also argues that LPC students could be passed on coursework or predicted grade — anything but the current solution of pushing back finals indefinitely.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is refusing to lighten up on the requirement that the LPC include supervised exams — impossible in a time of COVID-19. Exams have already been cancelled because of the pandemic.

In a letter to the SRA, the Junior Lawyers Division say that as there is “no known timescale for this virus”, simply pushing exams down the road is “unworkable”.

Echoing the arguments of an LPC student petition, the group’s chair Charlotte Parkinson says that delay would have “serious implications” for trainees who start training contracts in September. Instead of polishing off exams before in-office training starts, trainees could have to juggle both — with no guarantee of student leave.

The letter (embedded in full below), addressed to SRA chief Paul Philip, also raises concerns that some firms “may even postpone the training contract until the student has taken the SRA exams”.

The Junior Lawyers Division wants the regulator to examine alternatives to exam postponement. These include online exams, coursework and video assessments. Or, the SRA could:

“Consider whether it would be safe to use the LPC student’s current grade as their predicted grade and whether their current grade would be a fair representation of what the student could reasonably expect to be awarded in usual circumstances. This would need further consideration and detailed guidance as to when this option would be considered satisfactory.”

The 2019 Legal Cheek LPC Most List

The SRA is standing firm, emphasising that “it’s important that [exam] supervision is in place to ensure integrity and security”.

In a coronavirus update released on 23 March, the regulator said that it didn’t have a ready answer to the exam problem:

“… we recognise the current exceptional circumstances could have significant implications. For instance, the need for supervised assessment for the Legal Practice Course (LPC), or challenges around completing the Professional Skills Course (PSC) in time for September admission.

We are mindful of this, listening to feedback, talking to training providers and law firms, and exploring what options we may have in these areas. We will provide updates on our approach in this area on these pages as soon as possible.”

The junior lawyers’ letter also highlights concerns about solicitor apprentices and the impact of home working on “vulnerable” current trainees.

Read the JLD’s letter in full below:

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41 Comments

Anon

Will TCS be deferred/cancelled this year in light of corona?

Dr Fuchs, CFA

Highly likely. The UK economy is contracting much faster than after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. A deep recession is all but inevitable. Anyone who keeps claiming how this is a “blip” or “black swan” event and a speedy recovery will follow has no clue what they are talking about.

Hopefully the TCs will only get deferred and the firms will throw some cash your way to sit it out for a year (like they did in the GFC), but given how bad this is going to be I wouldn’t rule out TCs getting axed altogether.

All in all City firms should be able to weather the storm, assuming they’ve got sufficient cash buffers to ride it out. But then again, I wouldn’t rule out some weaker ones collapsing and falling into bankruptcy if this gets really bad and they’re caught out in the open.

Future trainee

Ngl this comment made me feel sick

Terrified future MC trainee

Wtf do we do if our TCs get cancelled?!

Future Trainee

Sign on OR Tesco’s hiring apparently..

Disgruntled

The current application window from CV to check out at Tesco is about 3 hours, if that helps.

Anon

I think you’re probably fine if you’re an MC future trainee…

Lionel Hutz, Attorney at law

Your TC is as good as dead, 100% of TCs were cancelled in 2008. Then all the rejected future trainees disappeared from the face of the Earth and no one has ever heard from them to this day.

Optimist

It might not be as gloomy an outlook as all that. The GFC was largely driven by changes in economic behaviour because of the collapse of credit availability (gross over simplification – I know), as it was a problem with economic structures the economic recovery was desperately slow (hard to start a business when banks aren’t lending).

The recession we are on the verge of entering has been physically imposed by Coronavirus measures (social distancing = economic distancing). It could well be the case that normal economic activity could resume reletively soon after a vaccine/effective testing/herd immunity (take your pick). Obviously, lots of businesses will go under, but if credit is available on the other side, there’s no reason this vacuum cannot be filled quickly.

That said we are entering a significant period of economic depression and Tesco will probably be a better shout than a TC until 2021…

SRA go on

As if a pandemic wasn’t enough stress for incoming trainees, now this uncertainty, ridiculous SRA sort it out

Jez

Happened to all of us in 2008.

Most of us were out of work for 20 months or more.

Only those with family connections got through.

Market was completely totalled.

On the plus side, fewer students on Linkedin.

Anonymous

The SRA had better heed the advice in this letter, or else risk being defined as a deeply incompetent body who stuck to their idiotically anachronistic rules in a time of generational crisis.

Anon

Repercussions for NQs too?

Kirkland NQ

Serious ones. I may not be able to get a 20 plate Lambo at this rate. Imagine the shame in being seen with a six month old super car on your Chelsea townhouse drive.

BPP gdl student

Guys are the BBp gdl exams cancelled completely or postponed? I need to know if I still should study for a later August exam or not to bother at all. I’ve been studying daily after working full-time , and it’s exhausting .

I would appreciate any confirmation

tips@legalcheek.com

After BoJo speech yesterday you probably do not need to go to work anyway. Your conundrum should solve itself.

In all seriousness, this is only situation when you should probably ask BPP about this. As slow and incompetent as they are, they would still know more about the situation with BPP exams than random trolls in the LC comment section.

bpp gdl student

thanks mate

Wala

Same boat and they emailed saying they may change the format which is going to be very difficult considering the format is a problem question and GDL one at BPP 😐

Tom

The whole profession is massively over populated & it wouldn’t make any difference if nobody qualified for years. Lots of experienced lawyers are going home due to no work & will be there to do it when it comes back. We don’t need more lawyers. It’s a good life lesson for those aspiring young lawyers that life is what’s around you while you’re busy making plans. They can go off & train as teachers, nurses or doctors, which the country actually needs.

Tomas the train

Massively overpopulated with “lawyers” trained in shady high-streets firm like yourself hoping no one qualifies so you can finally get a shot at the city – jog on mate

Is there a GDL for medicine???

Yes — after 3 years in Law School what I *THINK* I need is 8+ years of school to undertake a profession I’m not remotely interested in. It’s incredibly dismissive to assume people would just want to train for jobs they don’t want. Maybe the crop of students who just evaded final exams can adjust their career courses and see the light in the wake of Coronavirus and begin training as Doctors/Nurses/Teachers.

US Firm Associate

Find an area of law you enjoy. Most likely there would be one.

The bad part is that most of people just do not try and go into PE / Banking for money (very few are genuinely interested TBH but these are exceptions), hating their job after that. Does not have to be this way.

Nameless

Due to and because of are not interchangeable.

Do 1 Tom

I’m currently on the GDL does the crisis mean I won’t be able to get a Training Contract for at least a few years? I don’t know what’s worse having a TC and potentially having it cancelled or not having 1 at all with potentially no prospect of employment. This may sound like a cliche but it has taken blood sweat and tears just to get to this stage.

ArbAndy

I wish we all had a crystal ball at this point and I could tell you what’s the best way forward.

Actually I’m lying: I wouldn’t give a sh*t about a little cretin like you and instead would lever the f*ck up and assume extremely risky short positions in the market to make my billions. Soz bruv

Hello my name is common sense

Definitely worse not having one mate.

Wala

My pain is yours and I was ready to take the exams and any change in the format is like messy at this point SIGH.

Future MC trainee

Scared as fuck that our TCs are gonna be ripped up…

Future MC trainee

Scared that our TCs are gonna get ripped up…

Nurse Johnson

Stfu no one cares mate. Go help out at the local hospital if you want to feel useful, the NHS needs you

Anon

NY firms already cutting staff

Anon

Anyone care to confirm this? Smells like utter BS

Anon

Above the law site

anonomous

Good luck holding the BPP LPC Exams in June now the Excel centre is a military field hospital…

Phil Mitchell, future trainee solicitor

Sh!t init – Phil Mitchell

Anon

Wait – real talk – could training contracts that have been accepted be rescinded?

Lionel Hutz

Did you do the contracts law course on LLB / GDL? Of course they can.

But I would not worry too much, at least in the case of City firms, they are very unlikely to do it (care about their reputation, have good cashflow, strong restructuring teams and a lot of long term work in the pipeline). Smaller high street firms though may start doing this is if the crisis persists.

DMcF

Don’t forget all the bar students complaining because they don’t get easier exams

Anon

Couple of NY firms already laying off staff and cutting wages by 30%

no

Firms are more likely to delay current TCs than cancel them. I would make the most of the delay and do some NHS volunteering if you can.

For new TCs, most firms hire two years in advance. Things will likely be back to normal by 2022, so hopefully they won’t cut the intakes too much. Difficult to say with so much uncertainty.

ass hurts TC holder

offered 5k to defer a year whoops

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