I’m struggling to balance working full-time as a paralegal while completing the LPC

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Will it be ‘worth it in the end?’

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one paralegal struggling to balance work alongside study asks for readers’ advice.

“I’m an employment paralegal in a reasonable-sized firm outside of London. I enjoy what I do — it’s the most ‘human’ area on the spectrum of commercial law. I would love to train here, except I haven’t been offered a training contract with the firm (yet). I am currently in the second year of the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which I am studying part-time on weekends and self-funding. It was a risk; both financially (for obvious reasons) and socially because after a full working week (the hours can be quite long) I then have uni to (not) look forward to, plus during the week I’ve got to make sure I’ve done all my assigned prep for two days of workshops. This leaves very little time to even consider starting TC apps.

I balanced my workload well in the first year — ending the year on set for a distinction and managing a couple of grades in the 90s — but now things are tricky.

With an experienced solicitor leaving over the summer and being replaced by an NQ, I have taken on an increased workload. With employment claims at an all-time high, I find my study taking a back seat. I have been pulling all-nighters where I can and working seven days just to get everything done; yet I still don’t feel as well prepared as I was in my first year.

I have discussed my concerns with work. My team is supportive and have been pushing for another solicitor and paralegal to assist me. They repeat that ‘it will be worth it in the end’ and that I am certain to receive a TC offer from the firm. The higher-ups have been less helpful; they do not have plans to hire another paralegal or admin support. There isn’t a study leave policy, and any time for study/exams is taken as annual leave or unpaid holiday. Although they have told me they believe I will do well and “they’ll see what they can do” during the next TC application round, there is no willingness to make a firm offer.

I am taking on more and more responsibility at work while falling further and further behind with the LPC. I fear my end grade will not reflect my ability. With no training contract after I graduate, I’m starting to think is this even worth it..? Any advice would be much appreciated.”

If you have a career conundrum, email us with it to


Greenberg Glusker Future Trainee

The simple answer to this is don’t do the LPC unfunded if you can’t afford to without working at the same time. If you do so, the free time you have needs to be spent going to open days, networking and applying for vacation schemes and training contracts.

If you can’t afford to do that, do not self-fund and wait until you have a training contract, perhaps paralegalling beforehand. The LPC grant once funded + an interest free student overdraft should be enough to get you through – I should know because that’s what I did.

It’s not rocket science.



That’s not answering the question put in front of you. Well done!



How can i work at Greenberg Gulsker plz help me i want to work there very much



Hi Abdul,

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, if you can make love to three women and simultaneously pilot a 1960s Riva speedboat across Lake Como, if you can buy a DFS sofa at full retail price, then you’ll be a top, top titan, my son.



Well below the advertised rate.



forget greenberg glusker, join dichart



Is Dechart a top firm?



u think ur funny ?



wow, u hav big brain



This is all shit banter.



Stfu, its top top


Appreciative Bystander

I do enjoy this banter but I wish I understood it. Can someone please explain?



too kompleks no idea bruv !



What about the law firms that require the LPC in order to even get a paralegal position?????



F those jokerz


Rosina Hodges

I think if you, you know. It doesn’t sound like the firm are keen to invest in you or make promises or plans about your future. Focus on your LPC if your standards drop at work it might just make them realise. If not, then keep looking, the right will firm will turn up 🙂 x



I did the LPC part time whilst working on a zero hours contract, whilst I had variable hours it was very difficult. An extra 5000 is needed as the loan doesn’t cover much.

I wouldn’t endorse self funding a LPC to get a paralegal role, you’ll just end up doing solicitors work on peanuts salary.

Just get a role in government, casework 35 hours a week weekends off.

I ended up failing the LPC.



You may have failed exams by failing to address the question posed.



How on earth do you fail the LPC?



Nicholas Rees head of Clifford chance’s Tokyo office made me stay up into the early hours of the morning as reported by Legal Cheek



Shit hole firms asking paralegals to have LPC qualification and underpay them, instead of giving training contracts. Makes gender and ethnic pay gap so much worse



It was going so well…



Well if you’ve already paid for the damn thing yourself (silly), then do your utmost best to get a distinction. Yes, in an interview saying you balanced full-time work with studying might get some kudos, but if you don’t have the grades then you won’t get in the door.

Also, proofread your TC applications when you do get round to doing them please.



But they aren’t supporting him properly and people are leaving. Your answer isn’t specific to the scenario



The implication is there. Doing your utmost best to get a distinction in this case is either securing time off (paid or unpaid), or leaving the firm.

If you have taken the plunge to pay for the LPC, get a distinction by any means or, to specifically answer the question, yes, it is not worth it.



So let’s actually answer the question.

You need to take time off work, at worst, leave the role. You don’t want to jeopardise your grades having done so well so far. With those grades you’ll be able to pick up a new role elsewhere. If your firm have been supportive so far and not being helpful right now in this critical time, then this isn’t the type of culture you should be in.

If you can’t afford to leave at such short notice then take unpaid leave and knuckle down for the final set of exams etc. They haven’t offered you a TC so far so you don’t have any ties with them. You don’t want to put your health (both mental and physical) at risk as well as your grades and future prospects. You have to make the sacrifice now.






This is the best answer on this entire s*** storm of comments.



No it’s not. Barely top 3.



It sounds like his firm are going to rely on him training the NQ or at the very minimum, get him/her up to speed. Offer to leave citing work stress / LPC commitments and I guarantee they will offer you a TC to keep you around.



Here’s some advice as for once I don’t feel this is a fake LC question.

Your firm doesn’t care about you.

If they did they would have brought in the additional staff or adjusted your caseload to make it more manageable.

Furthermore, they are dangling the carrot of a potential training contract without committing to giving it to you in writing. Over time you will see this happens over and over again.

People get assurances about TC’s by supervisors all the time to then be told the higher-ups in the firm couldn’t approve it (budgetary reasons or over subscription, etc). The fact the senior managers won’t assist with your current caseload indicates they are indifferent towards you and a TC is not a ‘done thing’ as has apparently been conveyed to you.

They are using you. I am sorry to have to tell you this as it may be your first law job. Please speak to other people you know at other firms who may be able to offer an experienced opinion on this.

Give your firm an ultimatum and leave if necessary. They need to start meeting you in the middle on certain things. There are lots of other jobs out there you could walk into.



Perfect advice!






I’m telling you this firm the person coul be working at are McMillan Williams. They are shite and tight.



McMillian williams VS here I come!






I am surprised by the negative comments.

This person has already decided to self fund the LPC whilst working, so telling them it’s a bad idea really is not helpful.

My thoughts, FWIW:

Well done you for getting through year one. Keep going and yes it is worth it. I did the same and it is incredibly tough. The LPC is meant to be tough, for good reason! So that, alongside full time work is admirable. Now you have started, keep going and do all you can to keep the distinction (I didn’t) and at the end, even if your firm don’t offer you a TC, you will have the LPC with good grades AND you can say you did it alongside full time work, in a relevant field. You will be an attractive hire.

Keep going and ignore the naysayors.



My sincere advice to you, and this may sound harsh, but stop whingeing and get on with it.

You aren’t the first person to be in this position and you won’t be the last either. I worked full time in RTA dealing with a case load of 100 litigated files – anyone who has done RTA knows just how demoralising and stressful the work can be. I made next to no money and to make matters worse I had my LPC repayments of £300 coming out of my account every month.
It was an incredibly stressful time for me. I constantly felt like a failure. I cried my way through every revision session and every exam. I deferred plenty of times. I failed plenty of times. It was by no means easy.

But within 3 months of finishing the LPC I secured a TC.

I will qualify as a commercial property solicitor in 8 weeks.

If you want it, you can do it and nothing will stand in your way.

Get off legal cheek and get on with it mate.



Typical wanker turning the spotlight around on themselves as using their response as a platform to brag.

Ignore this prick. Saying this person should man up is pathetic.


Lady Gale

I did the same thing, studied the LPC alongside working as a paralegal full time. The firm I broke my back for 3 years ended up bypassing all the paralegals and giving all of the training contracts to outside applicants. It’s a really shitty situation and I’m not sure what the answer is as a lot of firms dangle the carrot to get decent paralegals who they can pay peanuts until they realise what’s going on and leave. Then they just move on to the next batch.

My advice for the remainder of the LPC is to pick easier electives. They may be easier because you’re familiar with the subject or just easier in general. I thought commercial property was easy – I did that alongside the banking module and spent MUCH more time doing the banking module.

Also have a cut off of no work after 9pm, you need time to recharge and you’re in danger of burning out if you don’t get it. Take uni work to work with you and do a bit here and there during the day to compensate.



Fims have a business model that include a certain turnover of paralegals each year. I used to work for a sweatshop where about 33% of paralegals would move each year and they had dedicated HR members to deal with recruitment and leavers as they had a stack-em-high & pay-them-low mentality. Sorry to hear you were used and abused with externals given the TC used to motivate you.



As someone who has done the LPC part-time whilst working full-time in a firm in the City, my advice is to persist and keep going. You don’t have long to go and it will be worth it in the end. Even if you don’t end up getting a TC at your firm (I did, but the firm was quite reluctant to offer me one for a long time), you will be able to use the experience and get one elsewhere. Doing the LPC part-time whilst working full-time is tough and I really hated it, especially in the first year where the light at the end of the tunnel was still very far. However, it was worth it for me and despite working long hours and not always doing all the prep for the LPC, I still managed to get a distinction.



Similar to another poster above, this person is using this as an opportunity to talk about themselves. Ignore this fool.



Everyone needs to stop telling this person to keep on with the status quo. They are cracking under the workload and lack of sleep caused by overworking. The suggestion to continue with this is unhelpful. Saying “I manned up” and trying to one up them with anecdotes of how you got a TC and bossed the LPC with a really hard paralegal job means nothing for this persons specific circumstances.


West London

I balanced bptc and full time job in the city.

Where the fire?



Yeah it’s all about you bro. Enjoy your mirrorwank later on.



I’m not convinced that anybody emails Legal Cheek for career advice. I mean, it isn’t as though Legal Cheek is over-populated by successful practitioners, is it?



It is, however, read by successful practitioners xx



Securing a training contract is the beginning as opposed to the end. If you spend your time by working full-time and achieving Distinction for the part-time LPC, might that just be a different route taken from attending networking sessions and open day (which leads to the same intended result)? Keep going, it will be worth it as you watch people’s reaction filled with awe when you unlock this achievement.



Another one who is telling this person at their wits end to Man Up.



OP, my most sincere advice is to work towards achieving the highest grade possible (preferably a distinction) on the LPC.

Be aware that until you have officially received a TC offer, any talk with respect to it by your firm should be taken extremely lightly. At the end of the day, it is vital that you look out for your own interests, as no one else will hold them more dearly than yourself.

Having said this, do have (ASAP) a very honest discussion with your employers where you demand (not ask) for immediate support with respect to your studies (be it in the form of study leave or whatever may suit you best). Your firm will either: (i) support you and allow said concessions (as they will enhance your professional prospects, thus demonstrating they were honest in saying they wanted to train you), or (ii) not give you any support at all.

Should the latter case arise, I would prioritise my LPC studies even if it meant potentially leaving the job. A paralegal position is, unfortunately, not a very prestigious position, and securing that distinction will enhance your employment prospects exponentially more than if you were to stay at your firm, lowering your LPC grades, and with the added risk of not bagging a TC.

Ignore the advice of “just getting on with it”; do what works for yourself. I believe that should be prioritising your studies and grades. Since you do not have a TC (yet), your final LPC grade (which you have also self-funded) will be a primary factor of whether you manage to secure that future TC or not; it is therefore vital that you prioritise it in whichever way possible.



Working full time with a part time LPC was incredibly difficult – and unlike you I wasn’t even pulling nighters.

There are of course 2 parts. The LPC and your role.

One – If you want to qualify, persist with the LPC. As many have pointed out, a Distinction will go a long way in helping you secure that TC. You’ve paid for this out of your own pocket.

Two – In relation to your role, there’s no study leave, no concrete TC offer, have not funded your LPC, no time for you to make TC apps, potential detriment to your physical and mental health.

It’s clear where the problems lie. Consider an
respectful ultimatum and/or draw a line as to what time you leave the office. Your paralegal role is not worth your health, hampering your career prospects, your LPC grades (which they won’t even pay for).



Agree. OP is in the ironic position of advising people on employment law rights without exercising their own rights with their employer.



I, too, am studying the LPC (with LLM) part-time and working full-time. It was difficult to begin with but I found myself just getting into the routine of switching back and forth, and somehow it just feels like second nature now.

I would definitely stop taking on more responsibilities at work. They don’t seem to be completely respecting or supporting you so firstly, maybe think twice about even WANTING to train at such a firm, and secondly, don’t go above and beyond for them if they won’t do the same for you. Learn to say “no” and tell them that you no longer have capacity to take on any more work and they will then have no choice but to delegate to others / hire more people.

I find that planning my whole week in advance on a Sunday really helps. I’ll squeeze in some LPC work on the train commuting to and from work, and in my lunch breaks, and then I’ll do some more work at home. It is tiring and draining, but it does get easier once you make it a habit. I think planning out every inch of your day has to be key here. I do however find it easier because I really enjoy the LPC, so maybe think about whether you do too.

Maybe take a day off work, or spend a day on the weekend where you focus JUST on applications and nothing else. Also, remember that it’s ok not to have done every inch of your LPC reading / prep all of the time!!

If you do really want to be a Lawyer, unfortunately the LPC is a must. However, you are not bound to working at that particular firm and therefore that would be far easier to sacrifice right now. The most important thing is that you look after yourself, your health and your well-being, because this should never ever be sacrificed. Good luck!


Barrister at Law

The amount of people who are supposed “trainees” on this comment string, who are useless lowlifes, using this as a platform to advertise their greatness and not help this clearly struggling individual, is alarming. Is this the future of commercial law? God help us! Take it from a barrister of 5 years call, that you won’t last long in the world of work with an attitude like that! Stop trying to be Harvey Spector and get back to your document review… acting like a bunch of children.



Because it’s the Instagram generation who need to turn every conversation around to them and their experiences, feelings, beliefs and needs.


You’re completely right with your observations about a number of the above posters. Those type of people get stuck in Associate purgatory if they’re kept on by their firm because they lack the soft skills set to liase with clients and develop into partners.


TC success

Why do you feel the need to fully prepare for a Tutorial and not apply for TCs? Surely this is counter intuitive to studying the LPC? I find if you prepare reasonably well for each Tutorial and apply for each tutorial, unless you’re having one to one Tutorials – don’t forget you’re in a class that ‘could’ pick up the slack and a tutor that doesn’t expect you to know everything. You can always pick up on the finer points a little later in the run up to the exams.



This comment isn’t particularly helpful. The OP is not in a position to balance achieving their grades with paid work, never mind TC apps, which as we all know are an involved and time-consuming exercise.

OP; you’ve got your own strategy here if you’ve chosen to commit to self-funding the part-time LPC. All I’ll say, given the pitchfork crowd on this type of comment, is that I too self-funded the part-time LPC, but I attended uni on Wednesdays and worked an extra hour the four days, giving me my precious weekends to rest or catch up on LPC work. I did this knowing I would struggle to attend LPC classes during a weekend. So I respect your tougher journey here.

If it helps, I made the decision at the start of my LPC not to do any TC apps until I had completed the course. I focused on applying for a better paralegal role (where I was working didn’t offer TCs) and interviewed for this just before my last LPC exams, and started straight away afterwards. I then applied for two TCs: one I got a telephone interview straight away, the other was with the firm I worked for, and I was successful with this.

I got a distinction in my LPC; I gave myself no other choice in light of less-than-great degree grades. So my advice is to prioritise your distinction or your best grades possible. You won’t be able to change that once the course is over. You can always change your job. I would even move away from a paralegal role temporarily in order to achieve this if the job is detrimental to your LPC investment. One thing at a time is the way to do this and not feel overwhelmed. Keep your focus and stay confident. There is no rush. The TC opportunity will be there somewhere.



I see that some people have suggested that you stop your work as a paralegal to focus on thr LPC, and although that was my initial thought, I’m aware that you need to fund the rest of your LPC somehow. You might want to think about speaking to the firm about going part-time, or alternatively switching to a firm that offers that option.

Alternatively, if that isn’t financially feasible I would speak to the firm about reducing your workload, in a way that is assertive, emphasising that if you’re not granted concessions you will untimely have to leave the firm.



What is the nature of your current contract of employment? In my experience, paralegals on contracts by the hour are treated as proxy trainees (often with more experience in a given department as a paralegal may have worked in that department longer than the incumbent trainee(s) in the team).

Negotiate with the heads of your team either directly or through an associate or partner that can advocate on your behalf. Set out your aims and ambitions as an absolute priority. Self-funding is a huge investment in yourself – don’t let a law firm that clearly, as has been pointed out by other commentators in this thread, does not (at present) treat or consider you a permanent fixture in the team.



I actually don’t think you need more than a commendation on your LPC to ensure your grades don’t hold you back from getting a TC.

For students who are funded, firms generally only require a Pass. For those who aren’t, I think it’s pretty easy to go into an interview and say you got a commendation at LPC while working full-time – that is impressive. It’s obvious that if you weren’t working full-time you would have easily achieved a distinction. You can explain the dip in grades in your second year by using the fact that you were given more responsibility at work due to your experience/ prowess/ work ethic blabla – you will look like a saint. Speaking from personal experience of talking with partners /associates, they generally regard the LPC as a tickbox money grab by BPP / Uni of Law. They don’t give a shit if you got a distinction or a commendation.

It’s possible to do two things at once, and do them both well – but not necessarily excellently.




I am doing the LPC part time whilst on a Training Contract. It’s possible if you can balance your studies with your work. And learn how to budget properly.



Depends on which University.
I managed to get Workshop notes on line which helped greatly.

I worked full time in London and travelled to Birmingham on weekends.

I found out that the checklist helped a lot, in terms of workshop prep and actual work shop tasks.

Try and save most of your workshop prep, checklist obtained on the cloud, where you can easily access them and read them whilst commuting to and from work.

I had an online elective module, and this checklist really helped.

In case it’s an open book exam, then the checklist, and notes you make during the workshops will really help and make things structured for you.

All the best in your efforts.



I agree with all of the comments about your firm using you. You can’t be rewarded for loyalty to a legal person, because a legal person doesn’t really exist. What counts is what individuals commit to doing for you: if they’re hiding behind the firm and passing the buck to each other (as sounds like the case here), then no one is making any real commitment to giving you a TC.

Practical advice off the back of this is not to quit your job in a blaze of glory (you need the money, after all).

Plan A would be to push back on your hours and work more to rule (the 9-5 hours put in your contract). There’s a bit of risk there (I don’t know what your employment status is) but there’s not very much a firm can do about it in the short term. If you are told that this approach jeopardizes your TC chances, it’s a fair bet that you didn’t have any real chance of getting one in the first place, if they care that little about your LPC performance.

Plan B is to get a job elsewhere. Legal work is busy at the moment and a skillful paralegal is always needed somewhere. Employment isn’t a niche area and there should, therefore, always be an opening.

Plan C is to combine plans A and B: with a job offer in your pocket, you can dictate terms to your current shop. That threat only works once, but with only 6 months left on the LPC, you only need it to work once.



Speak with your employers about reducing your days if possible (if you can manage financially). I do the LPC part-time and work 4 days a week as a trainee. If they refuse, look for a part-time paralegal role (or TC) somewhere else



I’m struggling to balance my wife with my secretary. Get over it.



Get out while you still can. Make the leap and look for a new job. Your skill and commitment will be appreciated elsewhere. Your company doesn’t appreciate you or anything you are doing to try and prove you would make a great trainee at this company.

Working full time and studying part time is commendable whatever your grade.

It’s better to have good mental and physical health. These are not things you should sacrifice for any job. There’s not even a promise of a TC here so why you would sacrifice your health is beyond me.

Good luck with the end of your lpc. Hope you can make a decision



It is extremely tough. I completed my LPC last year whilst working full time as a Paralegal and unfortunately it did mean I did not have a work life balance. There were many times I wanted to give up but I am very happy I did not. Ultimately you need to pass the LPC to progress in your career so if you wish to proceed with becoming a Solicitor then stick with it.

It does also show future employers that you can be successful in your job whilst studying full time which is not easy!

It does end I promise! Good luck.



Quit, get another job that doesn’t eat your life and FOCUS ON WRITING APPLICATIONS. It’s already late in the cycle to be doing this – the faster you get them in the better.

12 hours each, no misspelling the firm’s name.



I worked one full time job as a paralegal and 2 part time jobs (barmaid in the evenings and waitress on non-uni weekends) whilst completing the LPC part-time.

If you are determined and strategic, willing to give up most of your spare time and have friends and family who understand that you are making these short-term sacrifices for your long-term future; you’ll be fine.

Since qualifying, I have had to make further sacrifices. Cancelling plans at short notice to cater to my client’s needs. As far as I’m concerned it comes with the territory of a successful practice and is one of the few things the LPC actually prepared me for.



I guess the important question is…why are you working full time?

Can you afford to leave your job and only focus on your LPC?

Do both part-time?

Defer your next exam? You’re better off doing it when you’ve paid attention to the work and had the time to complete the seminar work – otherwise you’ll end up failing.

Find another job? full time if you need to but maybe one which doesn’t require so much responsibility (and you actually get to leave on time without having to worry about case loads etc).


Fellow LPC student ...drained and tired

I’m also on the second year of my LPC and working. Our situations seem very similar. First year everything was going really well… but the second year I feel like I’m falling off the rails.

One thing I think you should do is make a list of things that may help you in your situation. I.e – meet with your personal tutor, these teachers have seen these situations many times and it’s worth a try. They may be able to offer guidance which may ease parts of the course. Then figure out who to email at work or have a chat with as you can’t burn yourself out. I’m attempting to give you advice whilst I want to curl up and cry myself 🙁

I’m on the second year and I’m burning out… If we’ve done soo well in the first year we have this last hurdle to complete.

Good luck…. there’s got to be an end to this all. But you’re not alone there’s quite a few of us… it is very difficult doing all these things with no rest.



I’m struggling with wiping my arse. I am literally so f*cking busy I don’t have time to do it properly.



It’s all about you, hey babe.

Your story was so inspirational. Wow. That’s really going to change the OP’s situation by bragging about your own achievements.




^^ that was a reply to Jan 9 2019 12:53am but LC’s poor website didn’t make it a response despite me having to submit it 3 times^^



I was the opposite. I worked as a part-time paralegal but studied the LPC full time. I ended up working almost full time hours and stopped going to law school. I paid the £50 for the LPC answer book whatever it was called and the extra £15 for each of my electives. I just used those to revise from and with the help of some friends to answer any questions I had came out with a commendation. Worth the investment. I is just like any other exam. You just need to learn how to pass.


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