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Email us at alumni@ucl.ac.uk or write to us at Portico Magazine, UCL Development & Alumni Relations Office, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT. Please mark your letters “for publication”. Letters may be edited for length.


It was wonderful to read in the last issue about UCL’s Centre for Access to Justice (CAJ). With a whopping slash to the Legal Aid budget, what better weapon – and shield – could there be than a scheme whereby two worthy goals are served: one, to provide legal advice to those rendered vulnerable by the cuts, and two, to develop the practical skills of lawyers?

Professor Dame Hazel Genn is to be congratulated for this big idea, as are all those who execute it. Shiva Riahi, one of the pioneering eight law students to take the course, is absolutely right: law school must, of necessity, restrict most of its instruction to a sound knowledge of the laws and the ability to research and scrutinise their application.

The other half of the formula is wide exposure to the real people whose day-to-day predicaments are the stuff of the lawyer’s workload. The Dean of Laws makes the point that most of the legal problems that can blight people’s lives are the mundane and ordinary obstacles that affect children and adults, rather than the headline-grabbing causes célèbres.

Justin Fleming (UCL Laws 1991)

The Centre for Access to Justice (CAJ) project described in Rick Pearson’s article in the last issue is highly valuable for society and of benefit to law school students as well.

For the law school students, I fully agree with Shiva Riahi that by involving law students in the real cases, they would then learn the practical techniques to solve complicated matters. As a current solicitor, I personally feel that there is a gap between the knowledge learnt at school and the proper use of the knowledge in giving practical advice to the client.

Skills for bridging such a gap are gained through practise and from the experienced senior solicitors. Thus, it is of pivotal importance for the CAJ project that a practising attorney is hired for supervising the work of the students.

Siqiong (Stella) Lu (UCL LLM 2011)


Illustration Hanna Melin

It was with great interest that I read “The Provost Departs” in the last issue and would like to add my sincere thanks to Professor Grant for all his efforts throughout a highly successful tenure.

In his interview, Professor Grant mentions that he is somewhat disappointed with the attention given to university league tables. Many of us sympathise with his stance – after all, any attempt to give an ordinal hierarchy to something subjective will undeniably face limitations.

It is a widely held view amongst the majority of alumni I speak to that, despite significant efforts across the board, UCL has not built a sufficiently strong brand to be insulated from the effect of university rankings. This lack of brand recognition, particularly outside the UK, makes rankings an easy point of reference
for those unfamiliar with the College.

We are right to take pride in our joint fifth place in the recent QS rankings, however we would be wrong to ignore weaker results across the other league tables (both international and domestic).

Joey Tabarani (UCL Economics 2007)

Reading Malcolm Grant’s “Provost Departs” article in the last issue it was clear that UCL has had a deep effect on him. He clearly cared deeply for a university which he described as “firing on all cylinders”, something I couldn’t agree with more.

As an alumnus of UCL one is closely linked to the present reputation of the institution, and by having a capable leadership it can reflect positively on you. Therefore it is important that alumni take an active role in UCL – by contacting your local alumni group or setting one up if there isn’t one, for example – and ensure that the reputation remains positive. Any platform for organisations and individuals to help fund UCL can only help maintain and improve its reputation.

Sheikh Asif Mahmood (UCL Bartlett 2006) UCL alumni rep in Qatar and the Middle East

Congratulations on another informative and provocative edition of our alumni magazine: an excellent article covering both sides of the very difficult problem of press freedom, a farewell to an outstanding leader in Professor Grant and, in the final article, hope for those of us in our eighth decade.

However, what I was particularly pleased to see was the article on the Choshu Five, the Japanese noblemen who came to UCL in 1863 and went back to Japan to develop their economy. As a chemist, I was well aware of the story and of the role of Professor Williamson in championing their studies and eventual graduation. But who outside Chemistry knows anything about Professor Williamson?

I’m sure UCL has many more fabulous stories to tell. Could we ask for regular contributions from departments to provide an article for the magazine, perhaps on someone notable from their past, and which could then be made available via the UCL website and other outlets? Keep up the good work.

Jim Parkin (UCL Chemistry 1959, 1962. UCL Staff 1965 – 2004

  • Contents 2014/15Contents 2014/15
  • DeconstructedDeconstructed
  • LettersLetters
  • New Centre for Brain ScienceNew Centre for Brain Science
  • Free RadicalFree Radical
  • Jeremy Bentham SpeaksJeremy Bentham Speaks
  • Why isn’t my professor black?Why isn’t my professor black?
  • Extra CurricularExtra Curricular
  • The Strong RoomThe Strong Room
  • CloisteredCloistered
  • Market EconomyMarket Economy
  • Head in the CloudsHead in the Clouds
  • R is for ReadingR is for Reading
  • Back to the FutureBack to the Future
  • On BeautyOn Beauty
  • Hello London!Hello London!
  • Cruciformed medicsCruciformed medics
  • A vision for 2034A vision for 2034
  • Reading ListReading List
  • London  vs  WorldLondon vs World
Portico Issue 1. 2014/15