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Career changer: An interview with Scott Titmus

Current student Scott Titmus has completed the part-time GDL and is now studying the part-time LPC at our Birmingham campus after deciding to change careers. After sixteen years working with BT, he decided to move away from his successful management career and take his first steps towards a new career in law. We caught up with Scott to discuss what inspired this decision and ask his advice for other people considering a career change.

Before moving into law, I worked at BT for 16 years. I joined BT straight from university (I studied history at the University of Liverpool) initially doing administration before moving into management. During my time at BT, I undertook a number of roles which included client management, operational management and most recently senior data and reporting manager (for the last four years).

While BT provided me with many opportunities, I did harbour other ambitions. I had progressed through the business and could see that I was valued. However, the next steps in my career progression would see me move to director level. I still had ambitions to grow in other areas which would be limited by this choice. In particular, I was keen to explore the legal profession and that opportunity would not be available if I moved up in my career at BT. Therefore, I made a choice to explore a different career. I discussed this with BT and initially was planning on leaving to pursue law full time. However, they agreed to financially support me and fund my studies with the condition I remained with them during this time.

I have always had an interest in law and had planned to go back and study the GDL following my initial history degree. However, this was not possible as I had other priorities (buying a house, financial stability, etc.).   During my time at BT, I had been involved in lots of legal work, as I discussed and agreed contracts with customers and suppliers. I had been involved in negotiations and contractual disputes where I had worked with our legal team; this further enhanced my interest and eventually led to me pursuing law with the GDL.   My initial view was that even if I didn’t move into the legal profession, the GDL would give me a strong understanding of legal principle which I could take forward in my work. However, as I moved into it, I become more intent on pursuing law full time. 

There are several reasons I chose to study at ULaw; it has a good reputation, I was able to discuss this with some of the legal team in BT who had experience with the University and spoke positively about it. The campus in Birmingham was ideal for me; I often worked long hours, so the fact that the campus is nearby helped me balance work with my studies. The teaching hours are also flexible so I was able to balance work by studying on weekends and evenings.

With the GDL, it was great to get such a wide overview of the legal system. I realised that I had little understanding of the UK legal system and I found it fascinating how the principles that underpinned it have evolved over centuries. Also, studying while the UK was involved in the Brexit debate gave me a completely new perspective on the conversations (and myths) within the media.

I found the LPC very different, much more practical and in many ways, I actually found this course easier (I think by then I had got used to balancing studying with work). I would have liked to be working in a practice alongside the LPC as I would have benefited more from applying the skills I was learning but I am looking forward to doing this when I start my training contract in September.

I haven’t chosen an area of law to specialise in yet. When I start my training contract I will get the chance to experience the different seats and hopefully form some view of what I would like to focus on. If asked now, I would probably say employment law is where my interest lies. I did a really interesting assignment on this subject in my GDL and chose it as one of my electives on the LPC.

I really surprised myself with my research project, which won one of the University prices on the GDL. That was a great highlight as coming back to University after so many years, I wasn’t sure how well I would get on, so this recognition was amazing.

It’s also been great meeting so many people along the way. I’ve made some great friends and had the opportunity to study with lots of people I wouldn’t necessarily meet or get the chance to interact with in my normal day to day life.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed learning again. After quite a long time out of education, I realised how much I liked learning something new, and it was surprising how quickly I got up and running; it became part of the routine.

The main challenge has definitely been fitting everything in. Starting a new career is time-consuming. I would often be working fifty hours plus a week; I then had to find time to study, attend classes and make decisions on how to progress my career change (applications, interviews, etc.). It’s not easy but not impossible and, looking back, I definitely got better at balancing priorities over the four years.

In five years, I plan to have completed my training contract and hopefully be employed as a solicitor in an area of law that I really enjoy. I also did a little bit of pro bono work during my time at the University with a charity called Refugee Action. I’d like to continue to do important work like that as it was great to be involved with.

My number one piece of advice to career changers is to make sure it is what you really want. If you aren’t committed, you will quickly find out you made the wrong choice. The last four years were very enjoyable but not easy. You do have to make sacrifices and rely on the support of other people. Before starting, make sure you speak to as many people as possible to understand the commitments you need to make and ensure it’s what you really want.

 

If you’re considering changing careers like Scott, take your first steps by studying a course with us.