Celebrating Professor Dame Hazel Genn’s Deanship of UCL Laws
26 July 2017
UCL Laws is celebrating the success the Faculty has enjoyed over the past nine years under the Deanship of Professor Dame Hazel Genn, as she prepares to step down as Dean and dedicate her time to academic research and teaching.
Committing to new and existing projects with UCL Laws, Professor Genn will also continue to develop vital research on the value of health-justice partnerships with The Legal Education Foundation.
Professor Genn joined UCL as Professor of Socio-Legal Studies in 1994, following nine years at Queen Mary College, University of London as Professor and for the final three years as Head of Department.
The intervening years between Professor Genn joining UCL and becoming Dean of UCL Laws were marked with key achievements.
Among the many and varied accomplishments, in 1999 she published the seminal work Paths to Justice, a national survey of access to justice and unmet legal need, which has since been replicated in numerous other jurisdictions. The research findings have had a significant impact on policy makers around the world, most importantly in developing a citizen-centred focus to justice policy and publicly funded legal services. Professor Genn has undertaken a wide range of empirical projects in the field of civil and administrative justice covering topics such as mediation, tribunal procedures, and clinical negligence
In January 2006, the same year that she was appointed Queen’s Counsel Honoris Causa and made DBE in the Queen’s Honours List, Professor Genn was appointed an Inaugural Commissioner of the new Judicial Appointments Commission established under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Additionally, she became a member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life from 2003-7.
Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, Provost of UCL between 2003-2013 and current chairman of the NHS said of Professor Genn’s appointment to Dean:
‘It was something of a coup for UCL when, in 2008, I succeeded in persuading Hazel to take on the Deanship of the UCL Faculty of Laws. It wasn’t an easy call. Her scholarship was at the highest peak and she was in demand around the world for keynote speeches, book chapters, consultancies and public service.
We both knew that she would be making a big personal sacrifice. But it was absolutely the right call. Look at the outcomes. Her transformative impact on the Faculty has been truly remarkable. Morale is higher than I have ever known it to be in my 40 years of association with the Faculty, even though it is far less generously resourced than most of its peers’.
Current UCL President and Provost Professor Michael Arthur agrees:
‘Under her stewardship, UCL Laws has gone from strength to strength and it is widely regarded not only as the best Law Faculty in the UK, but also as one of the very best globally.
Such an outcome did not happen easily – it took a lot of hard work and talented leadership to deliver a Faculty of Laws of that calibre, profile and international reputation, and Hazel must take a lot, if not all, the credit’.
When Professor Genn’s appointment was announced in 2008 she said that her vision was to not only work closely with colleagues within the Faculty and wider UCL, but to ‘build on the Faculty’s existing reputation for excellence and innovation in research and teaching and to help address the global challenges of inequality, security, sustainability and identity’.
Over the following nine years Professor Genn’s aims were more than exceeded, and the Faculty flourished in countless ways.
Since 2008, UCL Laws has expanded by appointing 43 additional academic members of staff, across areas including human rights, jurisprudence, professional ethics, judicial studies, healthcare law, environmental law, commercial law, intellectual property law and criminal law. The Faculty has developed constructive partnerships with Law Schools around the world including Yale Law School, Hong Kong University, and Peking University.
Key Faculty appointments have included world renowned lawyer Professor Anthony Julius as Chair in Law and the Arts, the first post of its kind in the UK, Professor Scott Shapiro as Visiting Quain Professor of Jurisprudence, and Professor Piet Eeckhout, Professor of EU Law who joined UCL in 2012.
Professor Piet Eeckhout, current Vice Dean of UCL Laws who will succeed Professor Genn as Dean on 1 August said:
‘It’s been superb to work with Hazel, and to see her boundless energy and tremendous dedication from close up. She is a genuine role model, and I’m not the only one saying this.
Hazel deserves huge congratulations on what she has already achieved at UCL Laws, and I’m sure there is a lot more to come. We are all in her debt’.
World leading research
Staying true to Professor Genn’s aim of building on the Faculty’s existing reputation for excellence and innovation in research, in 2014 UCL Laws was ranked number one in the UK for its world-leading research environment, and was the only law school to score a 100% 4* rating in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 exercise for its research environment.
The REF Law Panel also rated the real world impact of UCL Laws research at the top of the law sector, with 87% assessed as 4* or world-leading.
Since Professor Genn became Dean in 2008, numerous interdisciplinary research centres and groups have been established within the Faculty to address the most pressing of global issues, including the UCL Institute for Human Rights, UCL Labour Rights Institute, Centre for Ethics and Law, UCL Judicial Institute, of which Professor Genn is Co-Director, and the ground-breaking UCL Centre for Access to Justice (UCL CAJ).
The UCL Centre for Access to Justice, which Professor Genn Directs, launched in 2013, combining innovative teaching methods and research based learning with the provision of pro bono legal advice to vulnerable communities, incorporating casework and social justice awareness into the law degree programmes offered at UCL Laws.
Since then, and with the generous support of UCL alumnus Martin Rushton-Turner, over 100 clients have been supported through UCL CAJ’s innovative integrated Legal Advice Clinic (iLaws), which has expanded the Faculty’s research-based teaching and learning programmes through the provision of free legal advice and assistance in UCL Laws’ own advice clinic based in a health centre in Newham, London.
‘Working with Hazel has been an incredible experience, both in terms of her commitment to access to justice and academic excellence, but in her ability to lead discussions and shift the way people think about things that matter.
As Dean, Hazel’s leadership has been instrumental in making the CAJ the success that it is today and I am very much looking forward to working with her more closely as she returns to her access to justice research’.
Professor Genn will further commit her time from August to new and existing research, which will include undertaking a number of projects with The Legal Education Foundation.
The project, ‘The Value of Health-Justice Partnerships – Research on Outcomes, Implementation and Future Directions’, will enable Professor Genn and the UCL Centre for Access to Justice to continue and develop vital work already undertaken, convening workshops, and develop best practice looking at the link between legal and health problems.
The Legal Education Foundation Director of Research and Learning, Natalie Byrom, said:
‘We are delighted and privileged to be working with Professor Dame Hazel Genn on a number of projects in 2017 and early 2018. We are extremely excited about progressing the agenda of the value of health-justice partnerships, and could not hope for a better ambassador for this important area of work’.
Building the UCL Laws community
UCL Laws has long enjoyed a strong reputation for study across the globe, a position further cemented during Professor Genn’s Deanship. Frequently holding high positions in rankings such as the QS World Rankings for Law and the Complete University Guide, improving and continuing the student experience has always been of high importance to Professor Genn and staying in close contact with alumni has been a hallmark of her Deanship.
Former UCL Laws students are welcomed back to attend, and speak at, events, attend tours of the redevelopment of Bentham House, and many have chosen to continue their studies, or return as staff to the Faculty.
Firoza Dodhi, recent LLB 2017 UCL Laws alumna, and UCL Law Society Secretary said:
‘Professor Dame Hazel Genn’s ubiquitous influence at UCL Laws is a testament to her dedication. She has fostered a community that is committed to excellence and a culture of strong collaboration between students and faculty members.
In the final year of my LLB, I realised the true impact Professor Genn’s work has had in the field of civil justice; her research has sparked my interest in the field. Ultimately, my interactions with Dame Hazel have reaffirmed my belief that justice in the law need not be an esoteric notion.
For those further afield, Professor Genn has travelled across the globe to ensure alumni continue to feel close to their former Faculty. In particular, in addition to a close relationship with UK alumni, a strong bond has been forged with the UCL Hong Kong group.
Winston Chu, LLB 1960, and member of the UCL Hong Kong group said:
‘During her term of office as Dean, Hazel has ably led the Faculty to great heights. In Hong Kong, the Faculty now enjoys the highest prestige and is regarded as one of the best law schools in England. Her repeated visits to Hong Kong meeting with the many UCL Hong Kong Laws Alumni have cemented a close relationship between the Alumni and the Faculty.
She will be greatly missed as Dean by all of us in Hong Kong.’
The Faculty developed and expanded over the past nine years not only by size and strength of community, but physically too. One of the cornerstones of Professor Genn’s Deanship has been the improvement, and latterly, redevelopment of Bentham House, home of UCL Laws.
Early in her Deanship, Professor Genn oversaw the refurbishment of the student common room, and in October 2010 she hosted the opening of the new Cissy Chu Common Room. The newly refurbished bright, modern and comfortable social space to help enhance the student experience of all UCL Laws students was made possible following a gift from alumnus Winston Chu (LLB 1960), who wished to honour his mother Cissy Chu.
In 2011, extensive works to drain the River Fleet’s flood plain from ground and basement floors were undertaken, providing among other teaching spaces, the 156-seat Denys Holland Lecture Theatre, generously funded by alumnus Vincent Cheung (LLB 1965), which was formally opened by H.R.H The Princess Royal.
UCL Laws alumnus Vincent Cheung, LLB 1965, said:
“I have known Hazel since she became Dean in September 2008 and since then has become a very good friend whom I both admire and respect.
It is indeed difficult to recount her successes as head of the UCL Faculty of Laws as there are so many. She has united both the overseas alumni as well as the Denys Holland Foundation in the UK; opened the Denys Holland Lecture Theatre in 2011, and presided over the rebuilding of the UCL Law Faculty building into a potentially award winning one.
She will be very much missed as Dean but I am sure she will remain a strong pillar of the Faculty and impart her experience to her successor and to many more students.’
By 2013, with the estate being almost 50 years old, it was increasingly difficult to accommodate the needs of staff and students, with pressures on teaching space, office space and student services becoming more apparent with each academic year.
In order for UCL Laws to continue to grow and to ensure that all Laws students could continue to be taught exclusively within Bentham House, a new building and some fresh thinking was required.
As part of the wider Transforming UCL project, architects Levitt Bernstein created a design that combines the historic Grade II-listed Bentham House, with UCL’s overarching goal of creating a world-class environment for research, teaching and learning. It will give UCL Laws additional modern space in which to innovate while maintaining the historical attachment to Bentham House.
Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL said:
‘Hazel’s persistence, her attention to detail, her personality and her sense of humour have all helped to deliver an outstanding building that will stand the UCL Faculty of Laws in good stead for decades and generations to come.
Hazel, if I might just use this public forum to send you my personal thanks for everything that you have done for UCL, for the Faculty of Laws and for me. We will miss you as Dean, but will find a way to keep you close to all that matters for the future of UCL.
A huge thank you from UCL’.