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An interview with Career Changer Scholarship winners: John Clough, Jennifer Shaw, Nathan Trotter

After achieving success in various industries, these individuals opted to embrace new challenges through further education and skill development. With the support of our Career Changer Scholarship, they embarked on the next chapter of their journey towards their goals. We recently caught up with them to explore their career paths and the motivations behind their decisions.

By Elsa Tatam. Published 20 May 2024.

John Clough works in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), as a priority projects lead in the adult social care strategy team. He is currently studying our Postgraduate Diploma (Law Conversion) PgDL part-time online.

“My civil service background has motivated me to convert to law. My work on the parliamentary passage of the Health and Care Act 2022 (The “Act”) has been the primary inspiration for me to pursue a career in law. Working alongside lawyers throughout, I developed a deep appreciation for their unique skills. I also gained a first-hand understanding of how the law, and the lawyers who craft and interpret it, play a central role in people’s lives. I was involved in changes that had a significant impact on people’s experience of healthcare, such as increasing recognition for unpaid carers and banning virginity testing. This has motivated me to wield my expertise and advocate on important issues as a career.

I have a strong track record of success in communication and persuasion. I have written many submissions to ministers on challenging matters from international trade to privatization in healthcare. Submissions require exceptional drafting and persuasion skills; they need to stand out to busy ministers, succinctly laying out arguments and guiding towards a recommendation. My submissions have consistently received positive results and feedback. This includes having a submission shared across the Department as a model for others to follow.

I frequently made oral representations, both preparing senior officials to represent Departmental positions and engaging in negotiation directly myself. I helped Defra’s Secretary of State prepare for ‘Star Chamber’ cabinet-level meetings to decide the direction of the UK’s trade policy. This included a ‘red team’ exercise where I acted as an opposing minister, anticipating challenging questions and helping the minister prepare his responses. This preparation helped Defra punch above its weight in negotiations, securing Prime Ministerial agreement on key policies. I drafted speaking notes for ministers in the Commons and the Lords to use in advocating for the government’s position on the “Act” in parliamentary debates against amendments tabled by the opposition. I presented the government’s position in a favourable light while engaging fairly and directly with criticism, providing rebuttals both on technical and principled bases. I was consistently able to persuade parliament and received praise from ministers and opposition members for being thorough and considered, contributing to the Act’s passage into law.”


Documentary Producer/Director Jennifer Shaw is studying a Postgraduate Diploma (Law Conversion) PgDL at our London Bloomsbury campus full-time.

“For twelve years as a documentary filmmaker, I have pursued a career on the principle of social purpose: giving a voice to underrepresented causes (from police sexual misconduct to gambling legislative reform), shining a light on pressing issues and holding powerful institutions to account. These films, primarily for the BBC and Channel 4, sparked an ongoing interest in Family and Public Law in particular. I am extremely proud that several of these have received industry recognition, including a Foreign Press Association award in 2022 and a BAFTA nomination in 2018. However, I have felt limited in my ability to effect meaningful change as a journalist. I want to retrain as a lawyer so that I can have a more direct and practical role in supporting the individuals and institutions that shape our society. I am excited about a vocation where I can be a “voice” for clients, striving for successful outcomes to improve lives. I am also motivated to advance broader social change through collaboration with peers and strategic casework.

I am an excellent communicator, both verbally and in writing. From vulnerable individuals to high-profile politicians, I have extensive experience building a trusted rapport with people in challenging and sensitive circumstances. This required the utmost integrity, often handling extremely confidential matters (e.g. domestic abuse or sexual assault).

Through my work directing documentaries on complex subjects (e.g. the AstraZeneca vaccine or population growth) I have developed strong analytical skills. I am experienced in absorbing lengthy testimony, evidence and data and filtering it into a robust, persuasive story to build a strong, compelling case. My career has also required me to be highly collaborative, working with teams and a range of challenging stakeholders towards a common goal. I have sought legal work experience wherever possible alongside my full-time job, including placements with 29 Bedford Row in 2022 and Goodman Ray in 2023 covering child abduction, care proceedings and private matrimonial cases. I have also been awarded mini- pupillages at 1 Garden Court and Kings Chambers for Summer 2023.

Outside of work, I mentor a young woman through a scheme designed to increase access to employment for people from underrepresented backgrounds. I am also a governor at a local primary school, gaining invaluable insight into the challenges facing children from under-privileged backgrounds or with educational and safeguarding needs.”

Nathan Trotter works for Greater London Authority as a Senior Researcher for the Labour Group. He is currently studying his Postgraduate Diploma (Law Conversion) PgDL full-time at our satellite campus, Newcastle University.

“It is my work at the Greater London Authority, where I work on police and crime policy, that has really catalysed my decision to enter the criminal justice world as a practitioner. I am interested in criminal justice because of the unique way that criminal justice impacts people’s lives. Becoming a barrister has always been a goal of mine dating back to my school years where I completed a week’s work experience at Fountain Chambers in Middlesbrough shadowing Mr Robert Gilbert as he briefed and defended his clients in court. I have also more recently shadowed Mr Sean Summerfield of 187 Chambers and saw how he skilfully put arguments to the judge and how he interacted with his clients with understanding and compassion. These are the aspects of the job that make me want to pursue a career at the Bar.

My work experience, working in labour politics and for a trade union is testament to my commitment to social justice and pursuing a career that would allow me to act on that would be extremely satisfying.

I have significant experience working in politics, both internationally working as a Parliament Assistant at the European Parliament, and domestically as a Senior Researcher at the Greater London Authority. Working in politics at a European and London level has required me to quickly get to grips with different areas of policy, to work in different settings and languages, and to be an adept problem solver.

As a Senior Policy Advisor at the British Medical Association, I researched, developed, and wrote a number of reports on COVID-19 that have received national and international coverage. I have developed an expert level knowledge of problems within the criminal justice space such as the difficulty in improving outcome rates in rape cases or the emerging issue of Cuckooing as an offence; something I successfully researched and wrote a report on that received national coverage.”

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