BPP Law School, London
Number of places: 264 FT, 96 PT
Pro: proximity to the Inns of Court
Con: BPP prices + London living costs = OMG
Legal education heavyweight BPP is never one to sit still and rest on its laurels; some significant recent changes to its BPTC offering over the last year prove this. Firstly, three new options have been introduced for London students: public international criminal law, professional discipline, and advanced commercial litigation. Secondly, the BSB permitted BPP students to type their written skills assessment for the first time after the school came across some nifty new software –"an important development because hand writing is just not reflective of practice." And finally, from September 2013 BPP will be running the BPTC from its Manchester centre for the first time.
The London branch is based in Holborn, a central London location ('Midtown', as the council is trying to rebrand the area) that's also home to various Inns of Court and a smattering of barristers' chambers. Full-timers are on-site for four days a week, with either Monday or Friday left free for additional study, pro bono or other extracurriculars. The timetable is "a little bit lighter and more flexible" in term three, so students will potentially have more days off. Part-timers attend one weekend a month over two years.
The civil and criminal litigation components of the course are taught in one-and-a-half-hour tutorials to groups of 12 students. Rather than interweaving advocacy into these sessions, it's taught separately to groups of four in a dedicated tutorial each week. BPP actually offers around 30% more advocacy than BSB guidelines stipulate. Although professional ethics is generally front-loaded at the start of the course, "there are also additional small group sessions or tutorials in the run up to exams. In the interim period we treat ethics as a pervasive topic. We will put up ethics podcasts on a weekly basis, and ethical points will always come up in other subjects." Students receive feedback for every oral skills performance, while for written skills they're given formal written feedback on at least two pieces of work and oral feedback in every small group session.
A minimum of five hours must be committed to pro bono. The school has a Pro Bono Centre, and students can gain valuable work experience with real clients through connections with FRU, Liberty, Streetlaw and projects at the Royal Courts of Justice. If students have their own contacts or causes then they are more than encouraged to pursue them, "providing it's been approved by a programme leader; we don't want unsupervised students offering advice."
A "very active" careers service helps students in their hunt for a pupillage. A professional careers team gives general advice on CVs, covering letters and applications, while a BPTC-specific careers officer (and course tutor) will organise useful titbits such as mock interviews, panel discussions or commercial awareness workshops. You can also practise your skills through mock trial and mooting events, which are judged by members of the judiciary and practitioners. The final of the annual mooting competition will see the lucky competitors descend on the RCJ.
Although BPP will make conditional offers to candidates holding a 2:2 (in line with BSB guidelines), "the vast majority of students will come with a 2:1 or higher." Those who complete the BPTC with BPP can then work towards an LLM in Professional Legal Practice.
BPP Law School, Leeds
Number of places: 48 FT, 48 PT
Pro: mentoring scheme
Con: no mediation competitions this year
The Leeds Whitehall Quay study centre is in the city's heart, a short stroll away from the train station and main shopping areas. It boasts state-of-the-art mock courtrooms, top-end tech facilities and comfy common rooms. The course is the mirror image of that in London, although with a cohort almost six times smaller than you'll find in the capital it's a closer-knit operation. BPP facilitates relations with members of the local Bar, and students can take advantage of the meet-and-greet sessions and guest speaker programme the school runs. Also, BPP's regional centres run a mentoring scheme that isn't available in London. "We don't run it in London because the Inns already have very similar schemes and we're just across the road from them." Students can improve their career prospects by volunteering in projects organised by the school's Pro Bono Centre – human rights work and the Legal Advice Clinic being just some examples. As in London, students who successfully complete the BPTC can go on to pursue an LLM in Professional Legal Practice.
BPP Law School, Manchester
Number of places: 48 FT
Pro: Iyengar yoga
Con: surrounded by hip Manchester distractions
From September 2013, BPP will be running the BPTC from its Manchester centre for the first time. BPP will become only the second provider in the city and will rival Manchester Met for a share of the spoils. The Manchester St James branch is in the bustling city centre, and in close proximity to the Oxford Road train station and main shopping areas. The course structure is exactly the same as it is in London and Leeds, and students will find classrooms equipped with all the latest audio-visual technology, as well as a large breakout area and plenty of silent study spaces. A Pro Bono Centre is in place to help students practise skills they'll need in the profession, and specialist careers advice can be sought from the careers service or personal tutors. There's also plenty of clubs and societies for students to immerse themselves in if they need a break from study – you can give anything from mooting to football, squash or Iyengar yoga a go.