Case Study- Claire, a Real Mother in Law

Legal exams are a walk in the park compared to having a baby according to Student Parents case study Claire.

Claire, a Law student from south London explains to student parents how she has coped with her law degree and single-handedly raising two children.

Claire discovered she was pregnant 3 weeks before her A Level results were due in 2006.  She had an offer to study Law at a London university and she was fully focussed on following her career dreams of becoming a solicitor. Needless to say the news was a curve ball to a girl who was so methodical, organised and focussed on her future.

The Results are in- A levels and pregnancy tests

Claire explains how she felt when she found out the news. “I looked down at the 3 tests I had done. It was pretty clear I was pregnant, I looked at myself in the mirror and said right, how can we work around this? I have always been very focussed but I surprised even myself that day and the months that followed. I just knew I had no choice but to get on with it.”

Claire’s A level results were in and she was heading off to University at 8 weeks pregnant but still, she remained dedicated to her goal of becoming a lawyer. She explains her feelings as she started her degree, “It didn’t feel strange, not at first anyway. I wasn’t really showing so no one knew. I didn’t go in to halls as I was living at home with my mum. I didn’t feel the need to tell anyone so I just got on with it.”

Second Year Jitters

Half way through revision for her first year exams Claire gave birth to a healthy baby girl called Beth. She took leave from university for her final term and sat her exams separately to her classmates. Claire had been so dedicated to studying during her pregnancy that she passed them easily. This left her free to spend the long summer vacation learning a new skill, how to be a mum. “The timing worked out quite well. I had Beth, sat my exams and had the whole summer to bond with her.

Things were going smoothly until it was time to start her second year. As the new academic year approached Claire decided to take a break from her degree and focus on being a mum for a while. “I didn’t know that it would affect me the way it did. The summer with Beth made me see things differently. I think I became a lot less self-centred and realised I had someone else to take care of.” Claire deferred her place for a year and planned to go back to her studies when Beth was a little older.

A Family Affair

During the summer Claire moved in with Beth’s father. “We decided to take a chance at begin a family. Me and Beth’s father weren’t that serious but we spent time together over the summer and it just seemed right.”

During this time Claire got pregnant again, her relationship with her partner could not take the pressure and they decided it would be best for both of them if they separated. “We couldn’t make it work, it seemed wrong to stay together if we weren’t happy. I moved home with my mum and we arranged an amicable schedule for him to see Beth.”

It was definitely difficult being so young, being in the middle of a very difficult degree and raising a baby daughter whilst being pregnant. However, I just took on the challenge. I guess it was the way I was brought up. Life gives you lemons, make lemonade. My mum has always been so optimistic even though she had to raise me on her own so I picked that up from her”

Claire deferred for a second year while she had her second baby Joseph. “They (The University) offered me a part time option but I thought I would be better to go back and dedicate myself totally to it when Beth and Joe were old enough to go to my local nursery.

Back in the Game

After a two year break Claire went into the second year of her Law degree. This time it was very difficult. I certainly felt guilty leaving my babies and as I was the new girl people wanted to know my story. I did feel people were judging me but then I was there to work not to make friends. My primary goal was to study, do well and get a great degree. It really didn’t bother me that much as I knew their opinions didn’t matter in the long run.”

The Legal Eagle 

Claire completed her Law degree in 2011 and then went on to Law School to get her Legal Practicing Certificate  Claire is just about to finish her LPC and about to start a training contract as a criminal solicitor. She believes that being a student parent has not set her back in her quest to become a lawyer. “With or without my children I was always determined to make it however, getting a good job and being able to provide for them has given me even more of a reason to work for it. It wasn’t how I thought it would happen and it’s been difficult but I am very happy with what I have and I would do it all again.”


***Claire has not given her full name as she still feels that there is a stigma attached to being a young parent in her career and so as not to identify her partner.

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