Law Update: Loan arrangers

The Trainee Solicitors Group has negotiated a loan scheme with NatWest Bank for students on the legal practice course (LPC). The deal means that students meeting the bank's lending criteria - an LPC place and the offer of a training contract - may borrow up to pounds 10,000. The bank will also lend outside the pounds 10,000 limit to students studying for the common professional examination. The scheme was essential, according to a spokesman for the group, Robert Festenstein, because the existing loan scheme between the Law Society and the banks allows for borrowing of only pounds 4,000 a year, nowhere near enough to cover the costs of the expensive LPC. Local education authority grants are few and far between and even when available rarely cover the whole cost of training.

The TSG wrote to the chairmen of the top 10 banks and the building societies to canvass interest in a loan scheme. 'In the end we went with NatWest because it offered us a single point of administration from its new telephone banking system for the professional sector,' Mr Festenstein says. At present, the agreed interest rate is two points above base.