Lawyer Career Changer Profile

James Peppiatt


Legal Career

City, Solicitor, London

New Career(s)


Teaching  - Public School

Career Change Story

I am now Head of English at Stowe School. After four years practising as a City solicitor, I decided that my real passion lay in teaching. I therefore investigated doing a PGCE in English, and gained a place on a course at King's College,
London. Before applying, I spent a day in each of a state school, grammar school and independent school, shadowing an English teacher and making sure that the move really would be right for me. I did, however, need a degree in English (which I had gained at Edinburgh University) - at the time, a 2.1 was required as a minimum, although the situation may have changed.

Career Change Reflections

I absolutely love teaching English - it enables me to pursue my interest in Literature, as well as come into contact with teenage children, who I find fascinating, stimulating and frustrating in equal measure! Personally, I am much better suited to this career, in which I combine teaching, sport (rugby and soccer) and extra curricular activities (CCF, debating, drama, editing the school magazine, to name a few). I would, however, urge anybody who is thinking about making the move to spend some time in schools, to get a feel for the environment and decide whether it really is for you. Teaching in not just a nine to five job - I work six days a week, pretty much every evening until 10.00pm, and then prepare lessons/mark on Sundays. The holidays, however, are good, and that's a time to catch up with friends and family.

You also need to consider the money - teaching is not nearly as highly paid as the law (particularly City salaries), so you need to do some careful financial planning - what sort of lifestyle do you want, who do you have to support, and what are you prepared to sacrifice? You also need to think about why you want to teach, and the type of school you want to work in - state? grammar? independent? day? boarding? They are all very different environments, with different commitments, pressures and rewards.

My legal skills have proved very useful. Teaching English requires analytical skills and the ability to simplify information clearly and in an interesting way, getting down to the relevant facts - in a sense, your pupils are your clients! You also need to deal with parents and other staff, and so negotiating skills and an ability to be diplomatic are invaluable.

In summary, if you have an itch for it, I'd definitely look into teaching. But don't do it on a whim, do your research, get some experience, and don't think it's an easy option - it many ways, it's a great deal harder than the law, and certainly less generously remunerated!