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Paula Littlewood, ULaw Teacher of the Year 2017

Paula Littlewood was voted Teacher of the Year by students at The University of Law in 2017, receiving her well-deserved award at the November graduation ceremony. She joined our university 37 years ago after working at Woodham Smith, Greenwood & Holland.

Paula read law at Bristol University before joining the London-based firm as a trainee, but she always had her sights set on teaching. Making the move into teaching early in her career, she has been a favourite fixture at our Guildford campus for over three decades. Here she tells us about her successful career and love of teaching the law.

I decided that I wanted to go into teaching very early. In fact, it was while I was still at university. After passing my professional exams I started as a trainee solicitor at Woodham Smith, Greenwood & Holland in London and kept my eye out for teaching opportunities. As soon as I saw an advert for tutors to join the ULaw (known then as the College of Law) faculty, I leapt at the chance. I joined just two days after qualifying in 1980.

Between 1985 and 1993 I worked as a visiting lecturer. As well as lecturing I also did a lot of course design work for the University during that period. In fact, the latest GDL Land Law manual is still based around the work I did with Bernadette Whitters to create the very first one. I also designed the Common Law Method section of the new LLB Method & Ethics module.

I’ve always been based at the Guildford campus, teaching a variety of courses. The core of my teaching is Real Estate and Land Law but I’ve also taught other modules on the LLB and LPC, including Law in Action, Wills, Probate & Administration, Solicitors’ Accounts, and Private Client. When it launched in 2012, I was the Guildford course leader for the LLB. I am still the module lead for the LLB Land Law module, so I still get to do a lot of the design work.

For me, the best highlight of my career has to be the “lightbulb moments”. Those instants when you see a smile break out on a student’s face because they’ve just “got it”. I’ve found this happening quite a bit when teaching Land Law. It’s not an easy subject, so it’s wonderful to see when you’ve managed to get it to make sense to someone.

ULaw courses give students more than just the knowledge they need to pass exams. To really equip students with the skills to succeed in a law career we strive to give them universal life skills and teach them how to behave in a professional manner. In short, our courses are designed to enable students to go out into the world of legal practice with confidence.

The most enjoyable thing about teaching at ULaw has to be working with the students and my colleagues.The students have kept me feeling young and it’s a real joy to work with such enthusiastic and engaging minds. And of course I couldn’t have done the job without my colleagues, both academic and support. We’ve shared the ups and downs together, and I couldn’t wish for a nicer bunch of people around me.
There are two pieces of advice that I always give to my students which I would like to share as I am retiring at the end of the year. Firstly, to treat everyone you meet with respect and without judgment. That was the advice my father gave me when I began my training, and it’s stood me in good stead all my life
Secondly, to grasp any opportunity that comes your way. I certainly did when I applied to become a tutor at ULaw, which is something I’ve never regretted.

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