Studying law and being a parent

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The University of Law Students
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Are you a parent of a small child and thinking about studying law?
I know many of you with children may be thinking it would be difficult to complete such an intense course whilst having children. What about childcare? Single parents? What happens if my child is sick and I can't attend? How do I manage the workload? For those of you that this applies to, I wanted to introduce myself and encourage you to pursue your goals and give some insight into how this is possible.

My name is Sherrie and I am mom to two boys aged 5 and 11. I had a few years away from education following the birth of my eldest son. It was quite daunting returning to education after this but I decided to take the plunge and successfully completed a 2 year law programme at Level 3 at Walsall College. It was after this I decided to continue studying and applied to the University of Law, Birmingham Campus to complete the LLB. Now here I am, degree finished and due to start the BPTC LLM in September, also at the University of Law. I have listed below my top tips and advice for succeeding in your studies from my own personal experience.

1) Childcare - I think this is one of the biggest worries for us parents.The cost of childcare keeps increasing each year and I think many worry this would not be affordable being a student. I know I thought this at first. BUT there is good news, Student Finance England offer help towards the cost of your little ones nursery fees. This in fact covered the full cost of my sons fees so I didn't have to make any additional payments to the nursery myself. Whats more, you can pick any nursery you want so you are assured your child/children are in the best care. In addition to this, SFE also offer a further grant for those with children called a Parents Learning Allowance, this is on top of the maintenance loan and tuition fee loan. Now, this probably seems like your incurring a hell of a lot of debt, but the great thing about the Parents Learning Allowance and the childcare payments is that they do not have to be repaid. It's a relief right?

2) Managing the workload - We all know law is notoriously known for being an intense, difficult degree, with stacks of reading but don't let this put you off. I actually found it surprisingly easier to manage my workload than i had initially thought. The trick for me, and it sounds obvious, but pace yourself. I set myself checklists of what needed to be completed each day and made sure work/revision didn't build up. When it came to revision I would consolidate after each lecture and workshop and revise what I had learnt as I went along. This not only helped my understanding as the module progressed but also meant I didn't have that crazy couple of weeks trying to cram everything in. In terms of getting work done whilst also looking after the kids. I found that, the lectures and workshops at ULaw were well timetabled, meaning I could quite often get that days work done before I picked up my children from school/nursery. For me personally, I found I worked better in the morning but everyone is different, its just finding the right time for you and the key is being organised.

3) Accommodation - So, student accommodation was clearly out the question for me so I chose to stay at home and commute to uni. I selected the University of Law, Birmingham, as its only 20 minutes from my house. Although this is questionable if I go the M6 way at 8:30 in the morning! I would advise for those of you with children to select one of our campuses which is closest to your home address and easily commutable. I also thought I would be missing out on the whole uni life by staying at home. It certainty didn't feel that way from studying at ULaw. There is plenty to get involved in to fit around your circumstances to ensure you get the most out of your time at uni. This can be anything from joining a society like the netball society to attending networking events with a host of barristers and solicitors.

Hope this helps those of your considering returning to education.
Any questions, I'll be here to answer them!
Sherrie
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Elanis3
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#2
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Hi, it was so nice to read you thread! I am just about to start 3 years full time online law degree and I am terrified. I am a mum of 3 - 6,3,2 and have been out of education of quite a long time now. You gave me some light and hope that I might actually be okay. My biggest concern is time - how and when did you find time to revise? Also, how many hours a week did you have to put in to stay on top of it ? You are amazing.Best, d
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afrofuturelawyer
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Wow, thank you for sharing. I'm also a single mother and about to start the LLM PGDL part time over 2 years. My daughter is 17 months and people think I'm barking mad, but I really want to become a Family Solicitor. Really encouraged by you both. Best wishes.
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The University of Law Students
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(Original post by Elanis3)
Hi, it was so nice to read you thread! I am just about to start 3 years full time online law degree and I am terrified. I am a mum of 3 - 6,3,2 and have been out of education of quite a long time now. You gave me some light and hope that I might actually be okay. My biggest concern is time - how and when did you find time to revise? Also, how many hours a week did you have to put in to stay on top of it ? You are amazing.Best, d
Hi Elanis,

Congradulations on making the decision to study again particular with 3 children. I may not be a mom myself but I am working 2 jobs and studying online. Generally a full time course they expect the same amount of time you put into a full-time job so 40 hours a week. I myself knew I couldn't commit those hours so doing the a part-time LLM LPC and it requires 22 - 22 hours a week - told it approx. half the time that a full-time student needs.

My advice is to get a weekly planner and put down all your commitments - looking after kids, house work, cooking dinner, family time. Then look at what time is left in the day and scheledule your study time. At the start of the week there tends to be a lot of pre-reading to get through - I find that if you can download a copy of the course material on a ipad or tab and have it with me where ever I go and if there is a 15min break I can do some of the reading then as well.

Also, having your stationery ready to go is an added bonus as the law seems to require a lot of lever arch files.

Wish you all the best with your studies,
Tam
Student Ambassador - ULaw
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Elanis3
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#5
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(Original post by The University of Law Students)
Hi Elanis,

Congradulations on making the decision to study again particular with 3 children. I may not be a mom myself but I am working 2 jobs and studying online. Generally a full time course they expect the same amount of time you put into a full-time job so 40 hours a week. I myself knew I couldn't commit those hours so doing the a part-time LLM LPC and it requires 22 - 22 hours a week - told it approx. half the time that a full-time student needs.

My advice is to get a weekly planner and put down all your commitments - looking after kids, house work, cooking dinner, family time. Then look at what time is left in the day and scheledule your study time. At the start of the week there tends to be a lot of pre-reading to get through - I find that if you can download a copy of the course material on a ipad or tab and have it with me where ever I go and if there is a 15min break I can do some of the reading then as well.

Also, having your stationery ready to go is an added bonus as the law seems to require a lot of lever arch files.

Wish you all the best with your studies,
Tam
Student Ambassador - ULaw
Hi Tam

Thank you for your email ! I really do appreciate your your email !

I really want to give it a go at full time online !
The only reason is that my time is very flexible on school terms. My children are in school from 8am - 3pm which very much means I can use this hours in the way I want and need. I don’t have any set schedule or anything that requires my attendance daily so backed on this I can very much spare approx 4-5 h during the day and with further hour or 2 after the kids are in bed.
My real worry lies when the kids are on school holidays , half terms etc. I have an incredibly supportive husband and the option of school holiday clubs but I can’t imagine shifting my kids in all sorts of clubs just to free time !
I have been trying to speak with someone from the online LLB to give me more definitive understanding of how the courses actually work on day to day basis but haven’t had reply yet.

Did your do LLB online too ?

Regards
D
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Elanis3
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#6
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(Original post by afrofuturelawyer)
Wow, thank you for sharing. I'm also a single mother and about to start the LLM PGDL part time over 2 years. My daughter is 17 months and people think I'm barking mad, but I really want to become a Family Solicitor. Really encouraged by you both. Best wishes.
Hi,

You need to do it !!!

Ignore what everyone says and go for it ! One day you will look back and admire your decision. The difficult times that you will have will soon after be forgotten!
Best to you girl !
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The University of Law Students
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#7
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(Original post by afrofuturelawyer)
Wow, thank you for sharing. I'm also a single mother and about to start the LLM PGDL part time over 2 years. My daughter is 17 months and people think I'm barking mad, but I really want to become a Family Solicitor. Really encouraged by you both. Best wishes.
I'm with Elanis3 on this! Ignore what everyone else says and go for it!

I'm a mum of 2 boys and when I started my LLB, they were 5 and 7 years old. I was also working between 25 and 35 hours a week. The juggling can be crazy but it is possible. I used to do most of my studying whilst they were in bed or on days when they were at school but I was off work. The key thing I found was to have a routine, and that routine should also include a break so you can actually spend time with the children. People thought I was crazy but I got through the LLB with a distinction and now I'm studying a Masters (as I'm converting from Scots Law to English Law due to a relocation).

Are you doing the LLM PGDL on a campus or online?

Nic
Student Ambassador at University of Law
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afrofuturelawyer
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(Original post by The University of Law Students)
I'm with Elanis3 on this! Ignore what everyone else says and go for it!

I'm a mum of 2 boys and when I started my LLB, they were 5 and 7 years old. I was also working between 25 and 35 hours a week. The juggling can be crazy but it is possible. I used to do most of my studying whilst they were in bed or on days when they were at school but I was off work. The key thing I found was to have a routine, and that routine should also include a break so you can actually spend time with the children. People thought I was crazy but I got through the LLB with a distinction and now I'm studying a Masters (as I'm converting from Scots Law to English Law due to a relocation).

Are you doing the LLM PGDL on a campus or online?

Nic
Student Ambassador at University of Law
Thank you both! Really encouraged! Best wishes for your masters!!!

It will be on campus nights (part time)

I’ve asked for the pre reading but they said it’s sent a month before the course.

Any tips to get cracking on?
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The University of Law Students
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(Original post by afrofuturelawyer)
Thank you both! Really encouraged! Best wishes for your masters!!!

It will be on campus nights (part time)

I’ve asked for the pre reading but they said it’s sent a month before the course.

Any tips to get cracking on?
I remember worrying about the pre-reading too and worrying that I wasn't going to get it in time. When it arrives, there is enough time to read it so don't panic. I did both of my courses online so slightly different but the biggest tip I can give you is as soon as they give you systems log ins- go and explore it. There is so much on it. It's easy to miss out on stuff if you don't know your way around it- for example, there's lots of additional (short) courses/sessions that you can sign up to through library services that will really help your course if you do them sooner rather than later. As you're doing the LLM, you'll find the Mendeley Instruction course really useful as well as the hints session on getting WestLaw and Lexis certification. They will save you lots of time once you know how to use them!

Also, if you have a log in for the Employability Portal already, they do lots of evening events online at the moment that you can already sign up to. That portal is worth exploring too. You'll find lots of family law seminars come up as well as network meetings.

Outside of the course, I definitely recommend getting a LinkedIn account if you haven't got one already, then make sure you follow all of the law firms/chambers that you are interested in as they often advertise free events that you can join.

Just don't overload yourself! I find it brilliant though. Hard but exciting times ahead! Welcome to the Law family!

Nic
Student Ambassador at University of Law
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afrofuturelawyer
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Thank you so much Nic. I'm really excited, I know it won't be easy but I know it will be all worth it.
This is a career change for me, so I am yet to update my Linkedin. A very good tip to follow all the firms I'm interested in.
I have also thought about creating an Instagram account to document this journey. Can't wait to start
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(Original post by The University of Law Students)
I'm with Elanis3 on this! Ignore what everyone else says and go for it!

I'm a mum of 2 boys and when I started my LLB, they were 5 and 7 years old. I was also working between 25 and 35 hours a week. The juggling can be crazy but it is possible. I used to do most of my studying whilst they were in bed or on days when they were at school but I was off work. The key thing I found was to have a routine, and that routine should also include a break so you can actually spend time with the children. People thought I was crazy but I got through the LLB with a distinction and now I'm studying a Masters (as I'm converting from Scots Law to English Law due to a relocation).

Are you doing the LLM PGDL on a campus or online?

Nic
Student Ambassador at University of Law
Hi Nic

Thank you so much for the encouraging words!

So well done for passing LLB with distinction , this is an outstanding results considering the circumstances!

I have signed for the full time online studies. You really inspired me. I have so many questions to ask you !
How did you manage on school holidays or half terms ? Did you do online studies or in camp ?

How old are you boys now ? How are the masters going ?

Dobrina
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Elanis3
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(Original post by afrofuturelawyer)
Thank you both! Really encouraged! Best wishes for your masters!!!

It will be on campus nights (part time)

I’ve asked for the pre reading but they said it’s sent a month before the course.

Any tips to get cracking on?
Hi afrofuturelawer,

When are you starting your degree ? Why did you choose camp rather than online
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afrofuturelawyer
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Hello Elanis3,

That is a very good question. Initially it was for focus, concentration and separation of space reasons. With the ambiguity of campus learning, I am actually rethinking this. I start the first week of September. So excited and nervous!
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The University of Law Students
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#14
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(Original post by Elanis3)
Hi Nic

Thank you so much for the encouraging words!

So well done for passing LLB with distinction , this is an outstanding results considering the circumstances!

I have signed for the full time online studies. You really inspired me. I have so many questions to ask you !
How did you manage on school holidays or half terms ? Did you do online studies or in camp ?

How old are you boys now ? How are the masters going ?

Dobrina
Hi Dobrina!

Glad you are going for it. Sorry it's taken a while to reply- I only pop on here once a week as part of the student ambassador activities but I will try and come back and answer any questions I see.

My boys are now 8 and 10. This second year of the masters has been particularly tough because of the lockdowns, trying to juggle home-schooling, work and volunteering (both which went onto online work so I couldn't even escape to an office to think!). But it has got easier again now that they have gone back to school.

I have done both my degree and masters online. I chose that option so that I didn't have travel time to factor in, plus it meant that I could sit and do the lectures at the times I had free, rather than follow a timetable. But that also had it's downfalls- likely still saying yes to everything at work and then sitting up late at night studying! Campus might be best if you need space to study.

After a while, I became a lot stricter with myself about how much to take on, and when to study, so on days when I am working, I now sit and start studies with the boys when they come home from school (they do their homework at the same time), then I have a break for dinner and watch a programme together, then after they go to bed I get a few hours in. They have a strict bedtime because of it though so they are in bed by 8pm and they can read up to 8.30/9pm. When they were younger, it was in bed at 7pm and asleep by 7.30pm. I do not touch work or studies on a Saturday so I can go out with the boys and enjoy some 'quality' time with them. On Sundays, I let them have Playstation time (which they don't have the rest of the week) in the morning whilst I study again. Then depending on the workload, I'll set them up activities to do around me (as they are that bit older and don't need constant supervision now- just the odd helping hand), normally arts or lego or even just playing, whilst I study or, if I'm on top of everything, we go out together. Wednesday nights are my student ambassador nights and once I am done here, I attend law events. It's a weekly routine for me.

During the summer holidays, I don't study at all as that is my precious time with the boys when I am free. (Holiday clubs when I am not.) The other holidays (half terms and end of terms) are either a week or two weeks long. When it is a two week holiday, I have the first week at home studying whilst the boys just play around me in the morning (they get a few more mornings on the Playstation- which they see as a treat because they are not on it all the time) and we try to go out in the afternoons, then I study after dinner. The second week, I have completely off with them so they feel like it's a holiday. When it's a single week holiday, I just do what I do as I do for the first week of the 2 weeks holidays.

If I hit a real pressure point with everything, I get up before the boys. I have a routine with the boys where I suggest that they don't get up before 7am but if they do, they have to play quietly in their rooms until then. It means that if I need to get up early to study, I know I won't be interrupted! I did that from the day they started school and it really helped.

But that's just my routine, what works for me might not necessarily work for everyone. I find routines work well with my boys so once it's embedded, they just get on with things. I prefer to pace myself over a period of time too. A friend of mine doesn't do routine (other than the school run), she just gets up at 4am to study before her kids get up, she is very last minute in her revision too so it just goes to show we all work differently. Either way, it's tough but it's doable.

I'm on track for a distinction at the moment, whether I actually get that is a different matter (like I said, it has been a tough year) but I think I will at least pass and I already have a place on the Bar Practice Course (provided I do pass).

Happy to answer any questions you have so fire away- I will pop back next week to check on this thread.

Nic
Student Ambassador at the University of Law
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