For aspiring solicitors, completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) is an essential step in their career path. Studying the LPC full-time takes one year to complete, but the LPC can be studied part-time over two years. I decided to study the LPC part-time on weekends so that I could continue to work at the same time.
The idea of going back to university whilst working a full-time job was daunting. Once I had started, I quickly learnt that balancing a full-time job and studying for the LPC part-time was going to be difficult, but not unachievable.
Balancing university alongside a full-time job requires a good level of careful planning and prioritisation. I thought it might be useful to share with you some tips.
- Create a plan
The time that you have between your teaching cycles is the time to prepare for your workshops (a term in the LPC for small interactive group sessions). I cannot stress enough how important it is to be organised and to plan your time effectively.
There will be a lot of preparatory work that you will need to complete for each workshop. You will be given a reading list and you will have preparatory tasks to complete. The preparatory tasks are designed to get you to apply the information that you have learnt from your reading. There will also be workshop tasks, these are completed in the workshop.
After each workshop you will also have consolidation tasks to complete, although these tasks are optional, completing these tasks will shorten your revision time.
When I am preparing for a new teaching cycle, I start by consolidating the work from the workshops that I completed in the previous teaching cycle. For this, I revise my answers to the preparatory and workshop tasks in light of the feedback I received in the workshop. For some workshops, there are workbooks that are
provided which contain activities and tasks to assist you to consolidate your knowledge.
Once I have completed my consolidation, I start the preparatory work for the next teaching cycle. I plan by estimating how long each workshop will take me, I will then prepare a timetable of the reading or
preparatory tasks that need to be done, I usually start with the hardest as this tends to take the most time.
- Use your free time productively
As a part-time student with a full-time job, you will not have the luxury of having a lot of free time. It is crucial that you use the little free time you have productively.
I found it better to designate certain times throughout my work week to study rather than spending my whole weekend studying.
You can study before work; setting your alarm earlier than usual will give you that extra time before you “officially” start your day to get some of your reading done.
You can study during your lunch break. Instead of spending your time sitting with your colleagues or sitting on your phone, use that time to read from your textbook or complete a preparatory task.
You can study in the evenings after work. Depending on your work schedule, you may be able to fit in 2 to 3 hours of studying every evening. I study in the evenings after work as I find that it lessens the work that I have to do on the weekend.
As a part-time student, your lessons will primarily be held on the weekends as it caters to those that work Monday-Friday. On a rare occasion, you may have a ‘non-teaching weekend’ i.e. a weekend with no classes. You will be able to get a lot of work done during this time. Depending on the amount of work that I have to complete, I like to leave one day of the weekend free to either spend time with friends and family or take time out for me.
- Look after yourself
Working full- time and studying will inevitably make you feel overwhelmed every now and then. You should still take time to do things that you enjoy. I take time out of my studies on the weekend to spend time with friends and family or to simply relax at home without looking at any LPC work.
To sum up, although it is difficult to balance employment and education, I do not regret my decision. I have found that working in the legal profession benefits my studies. The understanding that you will already have of client care, commercial awareness and the day- to day running of a law firm will be invaluable.
Furthermore, there are always helping hands at the firm – and when I am struggling with a point of law, who better to ask than a lawyer!
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