Aspiring trainees: balancing paralegal work with the LPC
More and more aspiring trainees are taking on paralegal work—which can mean a difficult balancing act when LPC time rolls around. Here’s how you manage your workload.
Working as a paralegal while studying for the LPC at the same time might be stressful—but it's a great way to show a future employer that you can manage a heavy workload. This rigorous schedule can also help you afford the cost of education, gain practical experience and commercial awareness and buttress your academic qualifications at the same time. With a strong work ethic and the right strategy, there is no reason why you can’t succeed.
Following is some time-tested advice from others who have trodden this road before.
Take care of psychological needs
One critical mistake that results in failure among many people who take this difficult route to a training contract is failing to allot time for relaxation, social activities and—above all—sleep. Unless you are superhuman, you will work and learn twice as fast after a good night’s sleep than after pulling an “all-nighter” of studying followed by two hours of sleep before it’s time to get up and do it all over again.
Take care of your physical needs
You might want to consider eliminating alcohol from your life entirely during this challenging time in your life. There’s nothing more difficult than trying to work or study with a hangover. There may be other period in your life when it will be okay to indulge in drink occasionally, but now is not one of them. Eating right and exercising regularly are also critical.
Do you study better in the evenings or during the daytime? If you study better in the evening, it is better to schedule night courses. If you study better in the daytime, it is better to take weekend courses. Both schedules are available, depending on the institution you choose to attend.
Get organised, and be strict with yourself
Once you know the basics of your workload—whether you are working part-time or full-time, and whether your LPC courses will be scheduled on weekdays or on weekends, write out a study schedule and be strict with yourself. If your schedule has you studying and you are playing computer games instead, you are playing games with your future. Remind yourself of this constantly.
Ironically, sticking strictly to a predetermined schedule will result in more free time for relaxation, not less—and you won’t have unfinished business nagging at the back of your mind when you need to be refreshing yourself in preparation for your next round of hard work.
Are you working full-time or part-time? If you are working full-time, consider taking a 24-month LPC course instead of an 18-month course. Yes, it will take longer, but then again, you will pick up that much more working experience along the way.
There’s no getting around it—working as a paralegal while simultaneously preparing for the LPC is going to be one of the most challenging times of your life, especially if you insist on excelling at both. Careful planning, hard work and flawless execution are mandatory—there are simply no shortcuts.
One final note for those who are just getting started or who are still in the planning stage. A big change in the legal education and training system is scheduled to take effect in 2021—the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is set to replace the LPC. Unless you plan to have already passed the LPC before that time, you had better start factoring in this change into your plans immediately, because all solicitors will have to pass the SQE in order to qualify.