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The Futures of Legal Education and Practice

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This research cluster draws together a number of academics from within The Open University Law School who have an interest in the development and future directions of legal education and legal practice. The title of the cluster reflects the diverse and evolving nature of legal education and the legal profession in the UK and beyond and the innovative and progressive work of its members.

Research topics covered within this cluster include the development of apprenticeship models of legal education, the use and integration of learning theories, the role of emotion within legal education, the place of EU law within the curriculum, skills development within the law degree clinical legal education, training within the legal profession, the wellbeing of practitioners and ethical issues involved in all aspects of legal education and practice.


Image of Roland Fletcher

Roland Fletcher

Senior Lecturer in Law. Roland has a number of research interests, one of which is the design of legal education and how learning takes place in the work-place. The traditional design of higher educational courses and the development of academic skills are not always compatible with vocational skills. His research examines the integration of skills which will be transferable into the working environment and will provide the required skills to compete in a global economy.  This is the platform of his research that is developing the idea of learning through experiential learning and experience of learning within a framework of structured and unstructured, formal or informal, inside or outside the classroom. Whilst undertaking his research, Roland has developed and drawn upon various theorists who have focused on the design and implementation of experiential learning in the work-place.

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Jessica Giles

Lecturer in Law. Jessica has undertaken an action research project and published in the field of the scholarship of teaching and learning. Her specific interests are related to using online classrooms to enhance student learning and enhancing students' skills training by combining threshold concepts and threshold skills training. This lead to a successful application for Senior Fellowship of the High Education Academy via OpenPAD in Autumn 2016. She is currently working on an international project using online classrooms to run master classes on case note and case comment writing in the field of law and religion. She is also setting up an online moot court room for the OU mooting team. Jessica is an APPLAUD mentor.

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Neil Graffin

Lecturer in International Law. Neil is interested in education and training within the legal profession. He is currently undertaking research on the ethical issues presented when lawyers are working with asylum claimants with complex mental health needs. The research will assess whether lawyers are adequately trained and supported within the workplace.

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Emma Jones

Lecturer in Law (Pro Bono Initiative). Emma has recently completed a PhD on the role of emotion within the undergraduate law degree in England and Wales. Her current research largely focuses on the role of the affective domain in relation to legal education, including the use of concepts such as multiple intelligences, emotional intelligence and empathy. She is developing empirical projects in relation to the role of admission tutors in England and Wales, the use of emotional competencies in the solicitors’ profession and law student wellbeing in a distance learning setting. Emma is also one of three team members developing a new pro bono project for the Law School which will include research on the role and nature of pro bono work, its impact on professional identity development and the use of innovative technologies in clinical legal education. She is a member of the Legal Education Research Network’s steering committee, the Society of Legal Scholars’ sub-committee on legal education, co-editor of the Journal of Commonwealth Law and Legal Education and has given a number of conference papers relating to legal education.

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Hugh McFaul

Lecturer in Law (Pro Bono Initiative). Hugh’s research interests include the teaching of legal ethics. He has given research papers on using virtue ethics as a model for delivering problem based legal ethics education. He is also interested in developing initiatives to increase the public understanding of law. To this end he is part of the OU’s Open Justice project which seeks to create opportunities for law students to engage with schools, prisons and community groups and is working to develop a series of MOOCS to increase legal literacy. He is currently the academic advisor for a new four part BBC TV / OU documentary series The Detectives to be broadcast in 2017.

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Laura Noakes

Laura is a PhD student at the Open University. She has a First Class Honours degree in Law, and recently completed her MA in Historical Research at Birkbeck, University of London. Her area of interest is the relationship between the campaign for parliamentary votes for women and early female lawyers in the UK. More specifically, she is looking at this relationship in the context of four women: Christabel Pankhurst, Helena Normanton, Eliza Orme & Chrystal Macmillan.

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Francine Ryan

Lecturer in Law (Pro Bono Initiative). Francine is interested in education and training within the legal profession. She is currently researching on ethical issues around advocacy and vulnerable witnesses. Francine is one of three team members developing a new pro bono project for the Law School called Open Justice which will include research on the role and nature of pro bono work, its impact on professional identity development and the use of innovative technologies in clinical legal education. Francine is particularly interested in legal technology and how law schools should educate students and lawyers in a rapidly changing legal world. She is a co-editor of the Journal of Commonwealth Law and Legal Education.

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Anne Wesemann

Lecturer in Law. EU law, so far, has been a compulsory subject to be taught in a UK law degree. With the looming withdrawal from the EU, Anne is interested in the role that EU law still plays for legal education in the UK. Domestic legal education is very inward looking and part of her argument is that the study of a unique international organisation and its laws furthers the understanding and reflection on the domestic legal system, which furthers reform and supports the rule of law.

Upcoming Events

Nov 26

Making international law work for women post-conflict: new voices

Monday, November 26, 2018 - 09:00 to Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - 17:00

Amnesty International, Human Rights Action Centre, London

Contact: Dr Olga Jurasz

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