C.J Burge - OU Law alumni and SOS+ Project Manager at St Giles Trust talks about her experience of studying in prison.

Open Justice in the Open University Annual Report

December 2018

The Open Justice Centre features in the 2017/2018 Open University Annual Report

Law Clinic ‘highly commended’ at prestigious pro bono awards

December 2018

The Open University (OU) Law School's Open Justice Centre’s Law Clinic is toasting its success at the LawWorks Annual Pro Bono Awards on Monday night (3 December 2018).

The Law Clinic, which offers free online legal advice led by OU students working collaboratively under the supervision of qualified solicitors, was highly commended in the ‘Best new pro bono activity’ category.

More than 250 finalists and guests from across the pro bono, advice, legal aid and charity sectors attended the awards evening at the Law Society in London. David Lammy MP, a vocal and successful campaigner for social justice, delivered the annual lecture and the event was hosted by radio and television presenter, producer and writer Matthew Stadlen.

The Open Justice Centre was represented by Keren Lloyd Bright who has responsibility for the prison projects, associate lecturer Andrew Maxfield who teaches on the ‘W360: Justice in Action’ module and Law alumnus Ken Ragon-Chambers who works as a student adviser in the Law Clinic.

The category winner was St Hilda’s East Legal Advice Clinic, while Working Families’ pro bono email ticketing platform was also highly commended.

This accolade is wonderful recognition for everyone’s hard work since the Law Clinic was launched in September 2017. We were delighted to be shortlisted and then to receive this commendation in such a tough category with some great competition is fantastic news.

The Law Clinic has already seen 50 of our very own law students offer free online advice sessions, supervised by qualified solicitors, to help the general public resolve their particular legal issue. These can range from contractual disputes to clinical negligence, civil litigation to building claims, and consumer rights to small claims. This helps promote the concept of ‘Open Justice’ with the Centre going from strength to strength since it was launched a little more than two years ago.

Francine Ryan, Lecturer in Law and member of the Open Justice Centre


LawWorks is a charity committed to enabling access to justice through free legal advice. The judging panel for the awards, sponsored by LexisNexis, was:

Open Justice Centre is improving lives through online learning for the advice sector

November 2018

The OU Law School’s Open Justice Centre has developed a prototype online learning module in discrimination and human rights law training for charities.

This follows a five-month collaborative project earlier this year with AdviceUK, the UK’s largest network of independent social welfare advice organisations, which was funded by a £67,000 grant from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Law lecturers Hugh McFaul and Francine Ryan from the Open Justice Centre worked closely with Chilli Reid, Executive Director, and colleagues at AdviceUK on the ‘Improving lives through online learning for the advice sector: Discrimination and Human Rights’ project. They reviewed current training resources around discrimination and human rights law, and identified training needs for those working across the advice sector by engaging with a range of social welfare advice organisations.

This research informed the design of the prototype online learning module which comprises five hours of learning, developed by the OU’s Learning and Teaching Innovation (LTI), which is now available as ‘A practical guide to UK human rights and discrimination law’. All AdviceUK members have also received a briefing on discrimination and human rights resources.

Through the OU’s expertise in developing open access learning, and thanks to the generous funding from the EHRC, this innovative collaboration will support the capacity of AdviceUK and its member organisations to address discrimination and human rights law issues.

The project will make a significant contribution to improving access to justice across the advice sector. The feedback we received during testing was very positive and encouraging; we’re sure it will be a real support to these organisations.

Not only this, it offers the opportunity to act as an introductory course for the general public in these issues in a period of reduced access to free legal advice. It’s designed for the mass market and we’re hoping it will help many thousands of people over time.

Hugh McFaul and Francine Ryan, Open Justice Centre

A resource developed in conjunction with AdviceUK members themselves which can be used both for advisers and provides legal education to the public is very welcome. It opens up learning opportunities to a wide audience; supporting access to justice around discrimination and human rights.

Chilli Reid, AdviceUK’s Executive Director

The Open Justice Centre hopes the success of this project will act as a catalyst for increased grant funding to develop further accessible resources for the wider advice sector.

Please contact AdviceUK if you would like more information about the UK’s largest network of independent advice organisations, which has more than 650 members making up around 40% of the UK charitable advice sector.

open justice prize winner

Open Justice Award Winners 2017-2018

October 2018

Six Law students have received an Open Justice Award for their contribution to pro bono. Lidia Dancu and Lucy Nguyen shared the Open Justice Centre’s best individual contribution award, with Sharon O’Donnell, Lavinia Soobrayen, Christopher Stevens and Lindsey Porter winning the best group contribution award. The winners had taken part in Open Justice activities during the 17J presentation of ‘W360: Justice in Action’, making outstanding contributions to school-based legal education workshops and providing legal advice to the public in the Open Justice Clinic.


Open sesame! Street law pioneer from America passes on his expertise

November 2018

OU Law School students came from far and wide to benefit from an intensive weekend residential masterclass in street law from one of its gurus.

Street law, established in the 1970s, is where the law is made more accessible to secondary school pupils by students delivering sessions on topics such as human rights, social media law, and legal careers.

The collaboration between our Open Justice Centre, Middlesex University’s School of Law and the Law Society of Ireland was a three-day training workshop from 17-19 October which focused on their presentation and teaching skills.

Street law pioneer Professor Rick Roe from Georgetown University in Washington – also known for writing an episode of children’s favourite Sesame Street! – was the star attraction. Expert tuition was available to 25 Open Justice students who came from all over the country, while one even flew in from Rome for the weekend. They were accompanied by Hugh McFaul and Jon-Paul Knight from the Centre, with an identical number of students from hosts Middlesex also taking part.

What a confidence booster for our students who responded in a professional and enthusiastic way. They quickly developed really professional and improved styles of presenting and teaching skills over such a short time. It was also a great opportunity for both Jon-Paul and myself to spend time with our students in a productive setting.

Hugh McFaul, Lecturer in Law (Pro Bono Initiative)

Here’s some of the glowing feedback from our Open Justice students who attended:

"I think the Street Law workshop has been the most valuable experience and connection with The Open University so far in my legal studies. This was my first time meeting other OU students and staff face-to-face, and it was great! I have learnt so much in just three days and I am very happy that I got the opportunity to do so.”

Image of students"The whole experience so far is extremely valuable to me. I appreciate and encourage the OU’s latest decision of providing students with pro-bono opportunities in their final year.”

"My most valuable experience or connection with The Open University so far is the exposure to a different way of thinking and the skill set you have to develop to be successful with your studies."

"I enjoyed meeting other students, not just from the OU, but from Middlesex University too. I surprised myself with how confident I became to be able to prepare and teach a short lesson with my partner. I was also able to take the feedback that I received and learn from it. I am very pleased that I was able to attend.”

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