UCL Changemakers


UCL Private Law Conference

This case study documents a project focussed on planning, organising and hosting an informative conference for Law undergraduates at UCL

9 August 2021

Case study by Manuela Sadik

What was the aim of your project?

Our aim was to create an event for undergraduate students who were unsure of their academic inclination or their career goals. Through our event, we wanted to create an opportunity for these students to explore some potential ways they may contribute to academia.  One way we hoped to do this was by inviting an established academic to present on a topic of their choosing. We hoped that this would inspire our attendees to consider a career in academia.

What did you do?

Organising and planning the conference was a huge task that required a lot of time, work and people. Below are some of the key things we did:

  • Organised our team into three distinct departments (advertising, legal research and communications) based on their competency and interest. People on the advertisement team, for example, needed to have some graphic or visual design skills.
  • Created an accessible, broad timeline that mapped out our key objectives and their deadlines.
  • Researched our target audience, their desires and the material that would most resonate with them. We used this information when searching for potential guest speakers as we needed to ensure that their field of expertise and experiences were compatible with our audience. 

What were the main successes of the project?

With over 100 attendees, the event was a great success! Prior to the event, there was a lot of interest and excitement, and many students relished the chance to explore and question broader aspects of law excluded from the main curriculum. From the student speakers, to the organisers, to the attendees, we really feel like the event brought people together and fostered a strong sense of community and belonging, something that is especially important given the current climate of isolation and remote learning. Our speakers, the Dean of Law at Oxford University and UCL’s own Charles Mitchell, were also very well received.

What difficulties did you face during your project? What would you do differently?

Initially we had planned for our conference to revolve around commercial law, with practitioners attending to discuss law-related current events that undergraduates could highlight in their resumes when applying to law firms. However, two primary difficulties arose early in the project that led to our conference having a more academic focus. 

  1. Leadership changes: At the start of the project, the staff leaders had chosen three team leaders to guide the project, based on their CVs and expressions of interest. However, all three leaders eventually stepped down due to a lack of time and were replaced. It was the initial leaders who had suggested the conference focus on commercial law, and once they stepped down, support for this waned. 
  2. COVID-19: As a result of COVID, many big law firms were shifting away from conferences and specific university-led initiatives, instead preferring to recruit generally from all UK universities. Thus, it felt necessary to stop relying on them for support.

What impact has your project had? On whom?

Our project has positively impacted the Law faculty, specifically undergraduates who attended the conference. It encouraged them to think critically and exposed them to controversial and lesser known aspects of law. We hope that we have inspired a curiosity in them and that they will continue to delve into these topics and explore beyond what they are taught in class. We also hope to have helped alleviate thoughts such as ‘I am not good enough’ by showing students that there are multiple options available to them.

The project has also largely impacted our team. Planning and organising a large conference is no small feat and the skills gained from the experience will likely help us, and others, when planning similar conferences in the future. In fact, there are already plans for a similar conference to take place in the upcoming academic year, providing a new group of students with skills and inspiration.