Balancing life as a future trainee, part time student and paralegal

Niamh obtained an undergraduate degree in English Literature before achieving a distinction in both the GDL and LPC at the University of Law. She received her training contract offer in summer 2021 following a successful summer placement and assessment centre with her dream firm, Shoosmiths.

Before commencing her training contract, Niamh worked at Shoosmiths as part of the Banking and Finance Team as a paralegal whilst balancing part-time study of the LPC. 

There is no escaping the reality that working whilst undergoing postgraduate studies (whether it is the LPC or SQE) will be a challenging time of your life – but, with hard work, careful organisation and a willing and eagerness to learn, it is possible to excel in both. My experience as a paralegal gave me invaluable skills to take into my training contract.

So, here are some tips on how I dealt with it and skills I learnt:

Top tips


Communication is fundamental to any career in the law, be it when speaking to the team, clients or networking.

Build a rapport with your team and make sure your team are aware of your capacity and any upcoming work or other deadlines, such as exams to manage their expectations. If you give the team updates on how your work is progressing and your workload, this gives them confidence in your ability to stay on top of things and get the job done.

Ask questions to make sure you fully understand the work given to you and what your associate or partner expects from you, as this will help you build your knowledge and experience. Reaching out to other trainees or colleagues in previous seats or other departments for advice is invaluable. If you don’t ask, you won’t know!

Communication builds an environment for positive feedback. It will enable you to do the best work you can and opens opportunities to learn things you otherwise wouldn’t have.


Once you’ve worked out your workloads both in relation to working (either part-time or full-time) and studying (whether in the evenings or the weekends), plan your study schedule and make sure you keep to it. It is important to choose a routine that suits your study and work preferences. Taking the time to organise a predetermined schedule will give you more free time for the essential downtime – and allow you to relax without the pressure of unfinished workloads at the back of your mind!

As a trainee, multitasking and time management is key to handle multiple matters at any one time. Therefore, managing deadlines with work and study creates an invaluable skill for your future as a trainee and will be helpful for the Professional Skills Course.

Grow and establish a strong support network:

Build connections with everyone you meet, be it in meetings, internal or external events or even at the coffee machine! By doing this, you will build a network of connections in the office who will help build your knowledge and can support you if you need advice or guidance. It will build your experience as you gain awareness of the different departments, divisions and members of the team. The value of having a great support network both in and outside the office is invaluable!

Have an open mind and absorb everything: The commercial awareness and practical experience you will gain in practice can benefit your studies and vis versa. Being able to put the knowledge into practice as you are learning allows you to focus on the application of the law and makes studying easier! Applying the law to the client’s circumstances is integral to the LPC as well as a future career in law.

You should be open and absorb all knowledge and experiences you come across. Make sure to write notes and read through them. Every conversation, meeting or training session provides you with new experiences and knowledge so, take it in – you never know when the notes may come in helpful!

Rest and Recovery:

Balance is key. Ensure you maintain balance and take time out of your day for yourself be it for your hobbies, selfcare or even to try new things and/or societies. It is no secret that those in the legal profession work hard, but it is essential to maintain a work-life balance and creating efficiencies in your work life allows you to enjoy your work before and is a self-perpetuating productivity boost!

Any events you have undertaken in clubs or volunteering that involve teamwork or a level of project management give another useful skill for your life as a trainee.

The firm has been a great support to me through the entire experience and so, if you adopt a strong work ethic and good strategy, there is nothing stopping you succeeding!

You may also be interested to read Kelsey’s blog where she discusses how to navigate the jump from paralegal to trainee solicitor.

If you have any questions you can email us at [email protected] or have a look at some frequently asked questions here.

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This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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