Carol Doherty is a part-time LLB student starting her 4th year at Edinburgh Napier University whilst also working full-time as a Fiscal Officer with the Crown Procurator Fiscal Office (COPFS). Carol has a 17 year old daughter and until three years ago was a single parent. She is also an Equality Ambassador within COPFS and is part of the Gypsy/Travelling community.
‘Never give up on your dream, no matter your age or background’
Ten years ago I started a job at the Crown Procurator Fiscal Office (COPFS) as a temporary Fiscal Officer. I couldn’t believe my luck as I had been interested in law since I studied the national certificate in Legal Services when my daughter was only four months old.
I went on to complete my higher national diploma in Legal Services at Adam Smith College in Kirkcaldy and knew that a career in the legal profession was what I wanted to pursue.
After completing numerous in-house training courses with COPFS, I decided it was time to take the leap and apply for funding to study the LLB. I received part funding from COPFS and then applied for a space. The three years that followed are history!
Working full-time, studying part-time and spending quality time with my family was and is a struggle. But it is achievable! I could not, however, have done it without my beloved diary. Yes, my diary! It’s open on my desk at work every day and has proved an invaluable tool in helping me plan and co-ordinate working life and uni life/study time. I would be lost without it.
Dealing with and overcoming extra challenges
On top of the challenges and hurdles faced with working full time and studying for the LLB, I also suffer from depression and have done since the death of my mum when I was only 19. This can be a struggle and at times a daily one, but with the help and support of great friends, family and supportive colleagues, I feel this is also something which can be overcome and has helped build and strengthen my character to make me the person I am today.
As a Traveller/Gypsy, working and studying is out of the norm for many girls, but over the past years, more and more are entering into education and securing very successful jobs as well as raising a family.
I am also extremely lucky to have already secured a traineeship with COPFS and am looking forward to commencing this on completion of the diploma at the University of Dundee.
Motivating yourself to achieve goals
People ask ‘where do you see yourself in the next ten years?’ and although they think I’m joking, I actually can see myself working within the High Courts of Scotland dealing with very different and complex cases.
Meeting as well as working with some of the best in the profession is another of the main reason I want to become a lawyer but I don’t believe that once you reach that goal you should stop there. You have to set your sights on another goal and keep pushing yourself (although I do admire those who are happy and content within their own lives – chasing ambitious dreams is not for everyone.)
My main reason for choosing a career in law was to provide a very secure lifestyle for myself and my daughter – and hopefully to prove to her and others that you can enter back into education at any stage in your life and be successful. (But I have to admit a nice big house, a few holidays a year, a house abroad and my dream car are also reasons for wanting to become a lawyer. I don’t have all of this yet – but they’re on my to-do list!)