UCL Faculty of Laws


Elliot Ross, UCL Laws Dean’s Scholarship

Elliot Ross 800x500

Programme, and year of study: LLM, 1st year
Where you are from: UK. Nantwich, Cheshire; Sussex; previously lived in Leeds (studied there for LLB)
Scholarship received: UCL Laws Dean’s Scholarship

Why did you choose to apply to study at UCL Laws?
I originally came to a UCL Open Day as I was interested in applying for a master's degree in Law, having previously completed a LLB. Then I came to the UCL Laws Open Evening, and was pleasantly surprised at what Laws had to offer. It was brilliant - there were a couple of really engaging lectures and I particularly liked one delivered by Professor Kimberley Trapp on Public International Law.

The main reason I applied to UCL Laws was the LLM specialism in Human Rights Law, and the broad range of modules within that specialism - obviously the teaching in that area is really good and that encouraged me to apply.

What are your favourite things about studying at UCL Laws?
I think the teaching is fantastic; it's been brilliant so far. Because a lot of my modules are about Human Rights Law – I take one Environmental Law module as well - it acts as a really good foundation for classes when we have big discussions on contentious topics. We have two hour discussions about really interesting parts of Law. Alongside that, I really enjoy attending Faculty events, such as the inaugural lectures delivered by UCL Laws academics.

I've also been involved with some of the pro bono activities offered here. I'm involved in the UCL PILPBP (UCL Public International Law Pro Bono Project), and I'm on the Redress team with Professor Kimberley Trapp. I’m part of a group of PhD and LLM students currently working on a case book for Redress (an organisation campaigning against torture) and that has been fascinating to be a part of. We are working on summaries for a strategic litigation casebook on the right to be free from torture, which aims to encourage and highlight good practice in the area.

I'm also a LLM Officer on the UCL Chapter of Amicus (a charity which provides support to capital defence lawyers in the United States), and we organise events such as panel discussions.

Events-wise, I've been involved with the UCL Centre for Access to Justice. They run events quite frequently which I’ve been going to - there was a panel event featuring UCL alumni on building a career in public interest law which was really insightful and relevant to me.

Amicus run a lot of events which are really good; we've had people who have been on death row come and speak, which was really interesting. I also went to Professor Virginia Mantouvalou’s inaugural lecture on worker’s rights and it's completely inspired my dissertation – I have chosen to write about employment law: specifically in the context of precarious work and Zero-Hours Contracts.

Why do you enjoy being part of pro bono activities?
Studying human rights can feel very theoretical or a little bit less attached from the real world. But through Redress, I’ll  be working on summaries which the charity can use. I think if you're studying something this theoretical, it's always useful to be able to put what you learn into practice where you can make a tangible impact on people’s lives.

What do you hope to do once your studies are complete?
I’m currently looking into applying for paralegal roles, specifically in public law and human rights law. I'm also looking at roles in NGOs in London.  I'm trying to scope out which areas of law that I'd like to practice in or gain a bit more experience - I'm really interested in employment law and criminal defence at the moment, which sound very different but both draw on human rights law. I know I would like to work in legal practice but I am looking to further develop my understanding of these areas.

How did you hear about the UCL Laws scholarships?
I found out through Twitter; I saw that the UCL Laws announced their new range of scholarships, and it was the first year that they were introducing them. I knew that I wasn't going to be able to self-fund, especially in London. I then went on to apply for two of them in the end.

What impact has receiving this scholarship had for you?
It’s had a massive impact – I’ve been able to develop my studies on the LLM course and live in London. Being able to study in London without having to worry about working alongside my studies has opened me up to the legal world in the city. Because a lot of the human rights lawyers or human rights NGOs are based in London, I've been able to go to various events which appeal to my interests – such as the Rebel Law conference which I attended recently.

If you hadn’t received this scholarship what do you think your plans would be, if not studying at UCL Laws?
I wouldn’t be doing the Master’s degree at UCL Laws. I’d be looking to do some paralegal work and I’d move back home. I think I'd have been trying to apply for some advice work in the areas I’m interested in.

If someone was thinking of applying for a scholarship what would you say to them?
I’d say definitely apply, and apply for multiple scholarships because you can! I’d also say that the application process is really welcoming. I had an interview for my scholarship around Easter and there was a friendly panel with three members of the Faculty. It was challenging but the process wasn’t intimidating. I would say definitely apply because it can make a real difference for your future prospects and for your life.

If someone was thinking of funding or sponsoring a scholarship what would you say to them?
I would say the scholarships have a great deal of value for the recipients. Scholarships open doors for people - especially the means-based scholarships. There are real issues with social mobility in law, especially within the bar, where there is a large proportion of practitioners from public school backgrounds.

I feel that social mobility through programmes which are really beneficial - like the LLM programme at UCL Laws - can really improve your employment prospects and exposure to the world. That's really important for people from more marginalised communities, and improving diversity within the legal profession.