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It is soon to be all-change for the way students study for the vocational and practical stages of their legal education, 14 years after the Law Society ditched articles for the training contract.

For solicitors, the current process is pretty straightforward. Students study for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) – and the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) for those with non-law degrees – before commencing a two-year training contract, on completion of which they become fully-qualified solicitors.

From 2010, however, the first of two major changes to this well-established set-up is due to be introduced by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA). The LPC will effectively be split in two – where currently LPC students study for both the compulsory and elective stages of the qualification with the same LPC provider, in future they will be free to study the elective stage elsewhere and, if they or their employers wish, after the commencement of the training contract.

More radically still, the training contract itself is due for a major overhaul. In effect, the two-year training contract will ultimately be replaced by a programme of more flexible ‘work-based learning’ in which trainee lawyers fulfil a series of criteria through a combination of training and on-the-job experience, which could be with either a single or a number of legal employers. To qualify, students must, according to the SRA:

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