Kaplan Law School is closing. It is understood that all staff are being made redundant.
There will be one year more of teaching, then its doors will shut. Sources report that dean John Clifford is leaving with immediate effect.
Kaplan serves hundreds of students - 275 on the LPC and around 110 on the GDL. But numbers have been dropping.
Though the school claims on its website to be "one of the fastest growing legal training providers in London", it has actually been losing firms hand over fist. In the last three months it has lost Shearman & Sterling and Trowers & Hamlins (though on Kaplan's website both are still erroneously featured on a list of firms with which it says it partners). Kaplan also shuttered its BPTC last year, blaming the "economics of the course".
Kaplan Law School also works with Nottingham Law School to deliver their LPC and GDL in London. Including that partnership, Kaplan is the third biggest law school provider after ULaw and BPP. When RollOnFriday asked Nott Law School for a comment, a spokeswoman said it was the first they had heard of the closure.
The news will send shockwaves through the legal market. With only a year of teaching to go there are presumably going to be hundreds of students who have signed up for future courses looking for refunds and left without a place on a course.
It leaves not only those students in the lurch and up for grabs, but also the firms who do still send their students to Kaplan for their GDLs and LPCs. The complete list of firms who use Kaplan, listed on its website (so citations needed) is as follows:
Bates Wells Braithwaite LLP
Holman Fenwick Willan LLP
Ince & Co
Mayer Brown International LLP
Mills & Reeve LLP
Penningtons Solicitors LLP (which merged with Manches)
PwC Legal LLP
Shearman & Sterling LLP (already left)
Trowers & Hamlin LLP (already left)
A spokeswoman for Kaplan has confirmed to RollOnFriday, "The contract with Nottingham Law School to run their LPC and GDL comes to an end in 2016".
"The SRA's Training for Tomorrow programme has opened up the prospect of exciting new possibilities for the route to qualification as a solicitor of England and Wales. Kaplan has therefore taken the view that it will not invest in a traditional LPC and GDL to replace the existing one but rather will concentrate its resources on developing innovative new products that draw on the Training for Tomorrow framework and reflect the Competence Statement". So, rest easy staff and students - it's just shutting and making everyone redundant because it's "exciting".
BPP and ULaw, start your engines.
RIP Kaplan, 2007 - 2016.
The whole thing was run on a shoe-string - the only overheads must have been premises rental, which were really shoddy, and staff costs, most of whom were part time. In Kaplan's heyday I bet it was raking in the cash, but with partner firms jumping ship (despite paying bargain basement prices) and independent students choosing to study in far swankier law schools in London for the same price, the end can't be much of a surprise to many.