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Alumnus Shows the Pathway from Law School to the State Department

Donn-Allan Titus Meets with California Western Students

"This is the best job in the world," Donn-Allan G. Titus '85 said of his position as political and economic counselor to the U.S. Department of State in La Paz, Bolivia.

As he sat casually on the edge of a table, Titus spoke to a group of California Western students gathered to hear his presentation "International Careers: How to Build a Career in the U.S. Foreign Service," sponsored by the Career and Professional Development Office.

Before Titus joined the foreign service there were a few stops along the way, including as a prosecutor, litigator, and businessman. But he says law school was the game-changer.

"California Western literally changed my life," Titus said, talking about the analytical, oral presentation, and writing skills that helped him not only to win a coveted foreign service position, but to thrive.

One of those positions was as the State Department's counterterrorism officer for South Asia.

"While I was at California Western, I never thought I'd be doing counterterrorism work in South Asia," Titus said. "There are a lot of former lawyers at State, and many had been litigators."

It's a great illustration of how a law degree can be a major asset in almost any career.

"At the State Department I use my legal background all the time," Titus added. "You have a real advantage."

Two keys to joining the foreign service, Titus says, are the written exam and the oral assessment. The oral presentation skills he learned on the trial team at California Western gave him a big advantage. "Being a lawyer helps."

Titus' negotiation skills come into play quite often, as he has negotiated trade agreements between the U.S. and several countries, including a time when he was in Peru—when one of them, Ecuador, experienced a coup. It just so happens, he and his family were stationed in Ecuador at the time.

"Fortunately, coups in Ecuador are pretty non violent," said Titus, who has lived in six different countries with his family.

"It has been an incredible, incredible career—I've never been happier," Titus said.

Career and Professional Development regularly offers presentations on legal careers as well as alternative pathways to legal practice for law school graduates—featuring alumni and other successful lawyers and professionals. To learn more, visit CPDO's website.