The College of Law is to launch an online Legal Practice Course (LPC), which uses the latest e-learning technology to give students more flexibility in their learning and increased one-to-one supervision from tutors.
The new part-time course, which starts in February 2011, has been designed to mirror the Oxbridge tutorial system whereby personal tutors deliver individual support and training to their students and also replicates the one-to-one supervision that law firm trainees receive from a practising lawyer.
It follows the College’s launch earlier this year of a part-time Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) that is also delivered via this supervised online mode of study - called the ‘S-Mode’.
The GDL is a post-graduate academic conversion course, which gives non-law graduates an entry route into the legal profession, while the LPC must be completed by all aspiring solicitors before they can proceed to the next stage of practice.
Students studying via the S-Mode receive the same amount of tuition and depth of subject coverage as students on traditional College programmes. They also have access to the same resources including cutting-edge online learning technologies such as i-Tutorials, computer-based Test and Feedback exercises and online workshops.
However, as the majority of the course is run online, students have the flexibility to choose when they study, making it easier to fit their learning around other commitments such as work and family and also reducing travel and accommodation costs.
In the case of the S-Mode LPC actual attendance at a College centre, either London Bloomsbury or Manchester, is limited to just four weekends over the two-year programme covering the initial course induction and oral skills training, which cannot be delivered remotely.
Sarah Hutchinson, Board Member, Business Development with The College of Law said: “The launch of the S-Mode LPC, combined with our existing S-Mode GDL and the LL.B law degree run jointly with the Open University, means that the College now offers a complete route to qualification via flexible online study. This gives opportunities to students with work or family commitments and to people keen to change career so boosting the College’s agenda to increase diversity in the legal profession.
“A key benefit of the S-Mode is the one-to-one support from tutors, all of whom are qualified solicitors. Students are required to regularly submit ‘office quality’ work to their supervisor and receive individual feedback, helping them to develop relevant knowledge, practical skills and professional attitudes.” The S-Mode was evaluated by legal technology expert Prof Richard Susskind as part of his review of the College’s e-learning methods last year.
In the report he said: “My investigations suggest that the drive behind the S-Mode is not commercial but educational. The College, it seems to me, is genuinely determined to explore and exploit new methods of educating, training, and helping aspiring lawyers; and, through the S-Mode, is pursuing the plausible premise that students generally perform better when they are accountable to, and working closely with, tutors on a one-to-one basis. This is the essence of the Oxbridge tutorial system, admired throughout the world.”
The College of Law piloted the ‘S-Mode’ online teaching method on the LPC last year and also uses it on its LL.M Masters degree programmes. In a survey of the LPC pilot participants, 97 per cent said that the online learning resources aided their learning and 87 per cent said they helped them to achieve a good understanding of how law is applied in professional practice. A separate survey of LL.M students showed that 90 per cent rated the responsiveness of their tutor as good or very good.
Current LL.M student Nick Maritz, who is based in South Africa and is undertaking his studies alongside a career as an engineer and a commercial and contract law practitioner, says that the study experience has exceeded his expectations.
“What has surprised me about the course is the comprehensiveness of the online study materials, the ‘real life’ tasks and the feedback from the course supervisors, which is given within a few days of submission,” he said: “The content of the feedback is superb in quality and to the point.”
Find information on the University of Law's Online Legal Practice Course