How to get a strategic edge during the LPC

How to get a strategic edge article

The Legal Practice Course is gruelling test of intellectual athleticism – not a marathon like university but not a sprint like a vac scheme or summer school. You have to work hard without burning out and no one pretends it’s easy; even the work itself is not difficult.

Here are some strategies I used during the LPC – often I deviated from them but it was useful to have something to deviate from as inspiration.

1. Know what’s coming

For half an hour at the end of the week visualise your work for the week ahead. The LPC is divided into topics and each topic has a list of objectives. Read through these and make sure you understand what you need to do at a simple level.

It may be that you need to produce a table for business law on Tuesday or a summary for civil litigation law on Wednesday and there may even be the odd day you need a calculator. You will be more efficient if you’ve given yourself room to prepare and know what’s coming before you sit down to do the work in the hours before a seminar.

2. Keep efficient

Allocate tasks according to how long they should take and try to stick to it: I usually spent around 1.5 hours preparing for a 3-hour session. At first I paced it wrongly – spending over an hour reading provisions of the Companies Act 2006 is not a good use of your time. Try to get a gist of the law in the pre-reading but internalise it by trying hard at the main activities in the prep you are given.

If you are prone to procrastinating you can get a cheap stopwatch and time how long you actually spend working (pausing for breaks, checking your phone, reading The Lawyer).Michael Hornsey  [square]

It is useful to schedule 30 minutes to 1 hour for consolidating each topic. Going through the seminar activities at the time they are fresh in your mind is the best revision you can do but you have to be honest – sometimes the temptation to convince yourself you understand something so that you meet friends in the pub wins out.

Consolidation also means you aren’t distracted by the rest of the class and know when you should go back and ask tutors for clarification (seminars can get highjacked by questions – “can a company own its parent company?” - or go too quickly because someone has an MA in conveyancing and answers all the property law questions before anyone else opens their books.)

4. Stay out of downward spirals

Eating properly, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep and exercise are all important and having good routines will help during the exam period.  I tried to make a checklist of tasks to do each day and move through them ticking them off. It gives a sense of achievement and closure once you’re done. If you reward yourself with meeting up with friends, watching a film or having a good gym session it will give you the mental break you need to wake up refreshed the next day.

The LPC goes quickly and if you start to doubt you can retain everything you’re taught you will panic. Trust your memory but if you think you need to go over something again, build it into your consolidation periods and ask for help.

Michael Hornsey is a trainee at a large London firm. He Tweets @MichaelHornsey and blogs at Intrepid Trainee.

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