The Law Society of Ireland recently announced that it would be offering the Professional Practice Course 1 (PPC1) online.

The decision to move the course online was prompted by ongoing fears around the spread of COVID-19.

The 2020 PPC1 will start on 8 September 2020 and will be delivered online through a combination of recorded and live streamed content.

The Law Society has confirmed that there will be times during PPC1 when trainees are invited on-site to Blackhall Place for registration, induction and small group learning sessions. However, any trainees that are immunocompromised and not in a position to attend will not be required to do so.

The Law Society has now made the 2020 PPC1 Application Pack available to download online. The deadline for applications is 1 July 2020.

This is not the Law Society’s first foray into online education, which began in December 2019 with the launch of the PPC Hybrid Course.

What is the PPC Hybrid Course?

The PPC Hybrid Course combines online lectures with 10 intensive weekend on-site sessions, plus two additional week-long intensive on-site sessions.

The PPC Hybrid course (which commenced in December 2019) is a more flexible route to qualification as a solicitor which requires less time on site at the Law Society campus in Blackhall Place, Dublin.

The course brochure for the PPC Hybrid Course is available here.

Initial feedback from that course was positive, and the Irish Legal News reported in February that 46 trainee solicitors participated in the first PPC Hybrid Course.

What are the Eligibility Criteria for the PPC1 Online Course?

The move to hold PPC1 online has not altered eligibility criteria. Therefore, applicants must have:

  • Passed, or gained exemption from the Preliminary Examination;
  • Passed the Final Examination – First Part ; and
  • Found a suitable practising solicitor to act as a training solicitor

What is the Preliminary Examination?

The Preliminary Examination consists of three papers: Irish Government and Politics, English (consisting of writing an essay, summarising a piece of prose and writing a letter), and General Knowledge (answering questions on current affairs, the arts and sports events during the previous 12 months).

Holders of (any) university degree from Irish or UK universities, Level 7 educational qualifications and certain other qualifications are exempt from the Preliminary Examination. The full list of exemptions is available from the Law Society here.

What are the FE-1 exams?

The Final Examination – First Part (more commonly referred to as the “FE-1 exams”) consists of eight papers – Company Law, Constitutional Law, Contract Law, Criminal Law, European Union Law, Law of Equity, Property Law and Tort Law. The FE-1 exams are held twice a year, in Spring and Autumn.

The papers may be sat in any order, and a candidate can sit as many or as few papers in one sitting as they wish.

A previous rule requiring that a candidate must pass a minimum of three papers in their first sitting was scrapped in 2019.

Once a candidate passes one FE-1 exam, they have seven years to pass the remaining seven exams.

Where a candidate wishes to enter PPC1 in September of a given year, their final opportunity to pass all remaining FE-1 exams is in the Spring sitting of that year.

However, since two exams had to be postponed in March 2020 (due to Covid-19 protocol), the Law Society is holding an additional sitting of European Union Law and Tort Law in August 2020.

What are indentures?

All training solicitor candidates must find a suitable practicing solicitor to act as a training solicitor for a 21-month in-office training period (sometimes referred to as “indentures”).

The Law Society maintains a register of firms who offer traineeships. Surprisingly, this list does not include any of the six corporate law firms that offer the most traineeships annually in Ireland.

These firms tend to have two major hiring rounds each year, one in Autumn (where they offer direct entry into their trainee programmes), and one in Spring (where they offer positions on their intern programmes – which may subsequently lead to offers for their trainee programmes).

If you are considering applying for one of these places, The Foxrock Academy can help secure your place.

A step plan of the solicitor qualification process is available here.

About The Foxrock Academy

The Foxrock Academy helps students and graduates to secure internships and traineeships at prestigious corporate law firms.

It is our mission to open up the legal profession to a broader pool of talent.

We pride ourselves on our ability to guide, advise, and support candidates from a rich variety of backgrounds as they begin their professional careers. We provide written application and interview assistancecareer guidance, and training in the basics of corporate law.