The Blackhall Diaries: The Comfort of Routine versus the State of Flux
Welcome to 'The Blackhall Diaries', a blog series where I talk about the goings on a trainee solicitor and law student of the Law Society of Ireland in Blackhall Place.
You will find an honest, unadorned account of student life for a person training to be a legal professional, and it has been quite the adventure so far.
It has been several weeks since the beginning of the Professional Practice Course Part 1 and I have truly settled in Blackhall and witnessed a great deal of what the course has to offer so far, with so much left to learn.
There was one detail each week that I began to notice with each passing day when checking my schedule, that each day was entirely different and could vary week to week.
There can be days with several lectures scheduled, a seminar and a tutorial in one of the seminar rooms, a single lecture with many free hours, or even more than one tutorial with lectures in between.
To say my head was spinning was an understatement.
At first, this was an adjustment that I had to make given that I had been locked into a workday beginning at nine in the morning and finishing at half past five each evening.
The format of the course changes each week to accommodate tutors and lecturers who may very well be full time practitioners in the legal profession and this is an understandable reason for such variation, rather than compared to lecturers and tutors in university who are faculty members full-time.
It was daunting at the beginning to check my schedule each week to see that the class times varied a great deal, and to plan out my entire week quite carefully in line with my other commitments outside of Blackhall, such as JCI Dublin monthly meetings and fitness classes, as well as the dinner with my tutorial group.
The spinning plate metaphor was not lost on me in those first few weeks.
The one constant provided by the student development co-ordinators has been the provision of mindfulness practice each Monday as well as weekly fitness classes including yoga, Pilates and even a boot camp (which sounds quite pleasant to take part in) and which has offered a sense of mindfulness routine to begin my week which is a great assistance to starting the week right.
Knowing how to make the best of time has been a lifelong process for me, and it is something that any entrepreneur, student, civil servant, medical practitioner or engineer in any walk of life can appreciate.
There are only so many hours in the day to accomplish what you need to do, not to mention the need to grab a cup of tea or coffee, as required on hectic days.
While I was initially thrown for a loop at how the timetable changed each week, it has made me realize how similar it can be to work and the office week in and week out: no two days are exactly the same. There are present constants of filing, administration and making the post on time and the shifting variables of client meetings, court appointments and any legal research on the menu.
It has also improved my time management and being able to keep my appointments outside of Blackhall, as well as preparing any tutorial assignments, as the compulsory attendance policy is in place for a reason so that students are able to get the most out of their learning and carry forward such lessons into their career in the future.
It's a real time-crunch sometimes, with not enough hours in the many days, but it has been a great challenge and vital learning experience for me to hone that crucial work-social life balance that has been encouraged in mindfulness seminars.
So here a few small tips for any incoming trainees for next year:
1. Your course calendar is your friend and you should always refer to it. It also helps to change the display colour to something that is easy on the eyes to read, such as green or pink.
2. Get to know the campus as soon as possible. Take a walk around and find out the names of the buildings or where certain rooms are located as they will be displayed beside each lecture, tutorial or workshop.
3. Be open to change and flexible to course changes. This can also apply to making plans outside of the course, so always check your dates and make sure you have enough time to get ready for such events.
"Start as you mean to continue" are truly words to live by.
If you know someone in your life who is looking to attend PPC1 in the next few years, please share this post and also check out the Law Society's comprehensive trainee section on their website which you can find down below, as well as all their social media and news updates.