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  • Writer's pictureCardiff JLD

Advice: Training on the LPC

I would advise that any junior lawyer should try to obtain a job in the legal sphere whilst completing the LPC or SQE. There are a host of reasons for this. Working in a law firm alongside your studies allows you to put what you are learning into practice; this means that both your performance in work and at university is likely to improve as a result.

For the SQE, working whilst studying will allow you to accrue qualifying work experience, hastening your time to qualifying which is the obvious benefit. The position is slightly different for the LPC in that you will need to obtain an official training contract if your time spent working alongside studying is going to shorten the time to qualifying. That said, plenty of law firms offer training contracts to LPC students like myself.

In addition, working in a law firm whilst completing your studies gets you ahead of the game in terms of CV building and growing a legal presence. The importance of this should not be understated; so many opportunities often arise based on who you know, not what you know, and it can be the difference when comparing CVs with identical degrees and grading.

Despite the above, training and working in tandem inevitably comes with its drawbacks. The obvious being the lack of down time. You go from working all day to studying in the evenings, and working all week to studying on the weekends. All this results in less time for you, and an increased risk of burn out, which is no good for your job or studies. My top tip to avoid burn out, first and foremost, is considering the option of dropping a day in work. This is a luxury that not every employer will offer, nor everyone’s financial commitments will allow. However, if you are lucky enough to be able to drop a day in work, do it. This will enable you to trade a day of weekend studying for a day of weekday studying, thereby freeing up a Saturday or Sunday to completely shut off.

The downside of this, however, is that upon returning to work after your study day(s), there is often a lot of catching up to do. This can feel overwhelming at times. However, communicating effectively with other colleagues who work on your files can make the transition back to work a great deal easier. I have found a brief set of ‘handover notes’ to be particularly helpful. Everyone was a trainee, or had to balance work with some kind of other commitment, at one point.

Another great piece of advice I was given was to think and work smart, not hard. In my university experience, watching lectures has been the most important task of the week in that the lectures have been designed to cover everything you need to know for passing the exam. Further, much of what is covered in the lectures is taken more or less verbatim from the books. In any event, you will be going through the entirety of the book with a fine-tooth comb, tabbing and annotating the relevant chapters, as part of your revision at the end of the year. Therefore, if you are pushed for time and feel confident in the material covered during the lecture, there is no great need to go over the same information twice by doing the set reading every week. This will free up some of your time after work to take a well-needed break from all things law.

I would also encourage any students who are working to make the most of what I call, ‘dead time’, to get your university work done. For example, my train to and from work is over an hour long each way. This gives me two hours a day of ‘dead time’ where I would ordinarily be sat on TikTok or watching Netflix. By using this time to catch up on studies, I preserve two hours of my evening to do something solely for me.

Another major drawback of working and studying is the fact that the two can often overlap and get confused. You find yourself sometimes thinking of university work during work, and client matters when at university. My tips in this respect are mainly to formulate a routine and set boundaries. This is easier for work as you will have days and times set for you to work as part of your employment contract. But for studying, this can be more tricky. That said, you can choose to treat studying like work by picking a day(s) and set times when you’re going to do university work. This will help you to get into the work or studying mindset, and hopefully limit thoughts of the other creeping in and distracting you.

A final thought to consider if you are studying and working simultaneously relates to who you are surrounding yourself with. It can be a really stressful and anxiety inducing time, which makes it so important to surround yourself with people who are good for you. Particularly as free time is limited, meaning that when you do have this luxury, it should be spent well.

Meg Walters

Trainee Solicitor

LPC Student JLD Events Officer

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