Fiona Sturges is a Trainee Solicitor who joined the firm in August 2023. In her first TSP blog, she discusses juggling work and family as she studies alongside her training contract…

I am now two months into my Training Contract at Thompson Smith and Puxon (TSP). Due to Covid-19, TSP took a break from taking on Trainees, and the first “post pandemic” trainee was a paralegal in the firm beforehand. As such, I am the first trainee to come from outside the firm in about 4 years. I did not know what it would be like starting my Training Contract, but I have been highly impressed with the firm, my Training Principal, and all the individuals who are taking the time to train me.

My first seat is with the Wills and Estates Team, based in the firm’s Clacton office. Anisa Khan, the firm’s first trainee since the pandemic, was previously in this role and has written some very useful blogs for anyone who wishes to know more about the team. Unlike Anisa, I am based in Clacton and whilst both offices are part of the same team, the work can be very different. As Clacton is on the high street, we get more walk-ins and it feels as though the solicitors are constantly in meetings! This has been invaluable to me learning how to interact and interview clients. Also, as the solicitors have to explain everything in a way that the client will understand, I can see how the concepts work and affect real situations. These meetings have brought up so many questions, which I can always talk to the solicitors about afterwards if I want further clarification.

In regards to the Training Contract itself, I believed I would have to take 6-9 months out to study for my LPC before starting. As a mum with a mortgage to pay, whilst going through a cost of living crisis, this was not something I was looking forward to. Thankfully, TSP have structured their Training Contract so those of us who have not yet done their LPC can do so alongside their Training Contract and the firm also covers the cost of the course.

For anyone who is considering doing this please be aware that this is not something to undertake lightly. I am currently studying part-time (online) via the University of Law, which expects you to submit two modules per week equaling approximately 20 hours of work. TSP has considered the workload and have kindly given me (and all other trainees studying their LPC or SQE) one day per week as a designated study day, where I am uncontactable by the firm and work from home to focus completely on my LPC. I have found that I can generally get one module submitted in this time so I have to find an extra 8 hours for the other.  I have had to change my routine to accommodate this and make sure that even at home, there are times when I am unavailable (and I can assure you, my one year old is not happy about that!).

I have to remember that, as difficult as this may be, it is a necessity. I am now a couple of months into a journey that will take me two and a half years. I know that when I receive my Practising Certificate all the late nights and weekends working on my LPC will have been worth it.  I just may need to remind myself of that when it gets to exam season!