Managing the workload of a trainee solicitor can be a struggle at times, but what if you’re a student and parent as well? Paige Regardsoe, Trainee Solicitor at Rothera Sharp gives her thoughts on what it’s like to balance the roles of trainee, soon–to-be graduate and mum.
I am currently a trainee solicitor at Rothera Sharp, half way through my training contract. Rothera Sharp knew my situation when they offered me my training contract in April 2018.
The majority of the workforce at Rothera Sharp, including those at the top, are parents so I feel that they understand the juggling I have to do in my role as an aspiring solicitor and parent. My role as a parent has never compromised my progression at the firm, and they have been extremely supportive of my desire to progress in my career.
Before I was offered my training contract I had been working with Rothera Sharp for a year at the Wollaton branch office as a legal assistant/receptionist. This role enabled me to prove my worth as a potential future trainee and allowed me to gain the knowledge which would set me apart from other applicants. Being an internal candidate also showed me that the firm is ready and willing to make internal promotions and to encourage their staff to pursue their career aspirations.
I decided to take on my LPC alongside my training contract. Whilst this has the benefit of cutting down the time it takes to qualify, it also means that I have to be exceptionally organised.
I spend one full weekend each month in university which means working 12 days in succession. Working the two consecutively has given me earlier knowledge of matters that a lot of my LPC peers don’t have the benefit of, and that has been invaluable. Rothera Sharp has given me a wealth of knowledge that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.
I wear three hats, law student (when I am studying), trainee solicitor (when I am working) and parent (when I am at home having family time). All three aspects of my life require completely different qualities, and I have to remember which switch to turn on in my head before I leave the house. But, I am doing it.
I am the trainee solicitor that attends staff socials, networking events, does the day job and continues to set myself apart as a legal professional. These are all things that I want to do, and enjoy doing as I know they will enhance me as a professional.
I am a law student who has to revise and cram before exams, remember deadlines, and use my out of work hours to make sure that I achieve the grades I need to gain my legal qualification. Rothera Sharp has been instrumental in helping me to achieve this by giving me additional leave for study and exam periods, and this is something which I know a lot of firms do not accommodate.
I am a mum. I love play time, trips to the park and bath time and also those lovely moments like last night when my little boy told me I was his best friend. If my little one is poorly, Rothera Sharp allows me the flexibility to be able to be able to take time to care for him. If I want flexi-hours to make parent life easier this is something which is available to me.
There is no doubt that it is tough to maintain this tripartite life. Working as an aspiring professional, being a diligent student and being the parent you want to be is no easy task. You need a lot of support (from both family and work), and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it. You also need a lot of flexibility, from your employer but also from yourself and you can’t expect for things to always go to plan. Planning and preparation does help, but there needs to be a mutual understanding that you cannot do everything. I have definitely flourished in terms of my organisation, multi-tasking and efficiency and this has helped in all three aspects of my life.
Being a working, studying mum is not easy and you do need to compromise. You can’t attend everything so you have to learn to pick and choose what is most important, but it helps tremendously if you are lucky enough to find a firm which is happy to allow you to be all three! A firm that supports you in this way is rare to come by, but Rothera Sharp is without doubt one of the best for the work-life balance which working parents crave.
You can have a professional career and a family life. Also don’t forget to recognise what you bring to the table. It is very easy to feel that you are struggling to keep us with other trainees, but they may not be contending with the same battles as you. You may not be able to work long hours, but your experience as a parent means you bring a different perspective to your training. You have an edge that not all trainees can offer. Thankfully there are firms out there which recognise this.
Your training contract is a huge achievement and it is an investment in your child’s future as much as your own. I was very lucky to find a law firm which encourages you to flourish as a professional and a parent, which doesn’t come very often and I believe that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve half of what I have without the support of the partners and my colleagues at Rothera Sharp.
Sometimes I sit back and think about everything I have achieved in such a short space of time, and take time to be thankful for being part of a firm which crucially believes in a strong work-life balance, and also one which is fully understanding of parenthood.
If you are looking for a firm which invests in you as an individual not purely as a professional, Rothera Sharp has a significant amount to offer.
Paige Regardsoe joined Rothera Sharp in 2017 as a Legal Administrator and started her training contract with the firm in April 2018. She is currently completing her third seat in the Wills and Probate department.