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Learn Your Way: An interview with Kimberley Gooderham

Kimberley Gooderham is a magistrate’s fee earner, trainee police station representative, figure-skater and mum of two who is studying for her LPC online with ULaw. We caught up with Kimberley to chat about how her lifestyle fits with law and studying online.

When ULaw gave the option of studying online because of Covid-19, it was more convenient for me, rather than going back and forth to a campus in Leeds. I work in criminal defence as a magistrate’s fee earner and a trainee police station representative. It takes discipline and structure to manage this and the fact that I’m a single parent and I need to offer my kids a good lifestyle. They know that mummy still needs to continue working as much as she does.

You learn to switch from one role to another - I’ve been doing this just short of a decade now in further and higher education. I had my youngest daughter when I went back to law school after taking a break for the pregnancy. It’s not easy. There's other things I want to do as a person that I feel other mothers and fathers shouldn’t have to stop doing just because they are a parent. I’ve always said that I don’t want to just be defined, wholly, as a mother. I’ve got two little girls who I want to teach that if you want nice things in life and you want to succeed, you’ve got to work hard for it and they’re seeing it first hand on a daily basis -  even down to homework. I’ll study while they're doing their homework. If I get them to bed for 8pm that’s when I’ll study until midnight.

Health is important. I’m not the world’s best sleeper. I’ve got a balanced diet but I do like my junk food too. I’m an adult figure-skater but when the rinks closed for the pandemic then I compensated by running. It’s something I can do with the girls - we train together some early mornings and evenings. Anyeska is nine and Izabel is six. They know mummy wants to be a lawyer, they’re quite clued-up about how I need to call the cells in the morning. They do ask questions. They know mummy is a voice to help people in the cells. They stayed in school throughout the pandemic and they had to draw a picture of NHS key workers under a rainbow. But they drew a picture of me under a rainbow, saying -  mummy’s a lawyer. Occasionally they humour me by saying they want to be lawyers. At the moment, the youngest wants to be a famous ballerina.

I came from commercial law into civil law. I always knew that I wanted to be a criminal lawyer. In my current job, I build the files for the solicitors. My online study at ULaw is influencing my work; it feels like a vocation rather than a job. I’ve been told that I can have my training contract on completion. I’ve got my own little office room that I share with one of the solicitors. It’s like a family. But there’s a lot of professionalism and understanding. It’s good to be able to speak with others if you’re not sure about something that you’ve heard as they’ve had years of experience in the environment. My children are frequent visitors to the office. My work are really supportive. They’ve been a real big help. Learning to speak about your problems is not as bad as you think it's going to be. I can remember saying to them - I’m a hamster on a wheel that can’t get off. Being able to address little issues I had at the time was really helpful.

When I found out I’d got my new job, there were a couple of colleagues studying at ULaw and it felt like a perfect opportunity for a second chance. The online support is really good. As soon as you’ve missed a ULaw seminar, within an hour, you get an email. Last year, Izabel started joining me in my seminar and the tutor followed-up and offered to send any materials in case I needed to take time out for my ‘little trainee.’

I’m very fortunate in that I do get help from family friends and I do get help from my ex’s family. I am very grateful for that. You need that support from your family and friends as they’re getting you through it. My best friend lives at the back of me. I’ve got an office in the house but 90 per cent of my studying is done at the breakfast bar.

I mentor at the local college and I wished that when I was in college there had been someone who could explain to me about going into law the less conventional way. I had to drop out of college initially to work and help support my mother. It’s been set-back after set-back. I had to sit my first and second years of A Levels in one year. But my tutors always believed in me. Two of the mentees have gone to university to study law. Mentoring makes me understand people differently. People have their own learning style - it's about being sympathetic to their cause.

My biggest thing is to say, if there are any 19 or 20 year-olds out there who want to study law and have had their children young - the world doesn’t stop just because you have children. I think a lot of females don’t often have that encouragement to carry on progressing.

 

Find out more about studying online at ULaw: https://www.law.ac.uk/study/online/