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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.


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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

Hugh is a founding member of The Open University Law School's Open Justice Centre, leading on public legal education issues. He has worked to develop a range of innovative community based experiential learning opportunities for OU students by developing partnerships with Citizens Advice, The Personal Support Unit, Young Citizens, Refugee Action and the St Giles Trust. He is particularly interested in harnessing the potential of online technologies to support the social justice agenda by increasing levels of public legal literacy and has utilised virtual reality technology to support the development of law student employability skills.

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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 a founding member of the Open Justice Centre and Director of the Open Justice Law Clinic, an innovative online legal advice clinic providing quality fully insured legal advice to the general public. The clinic is unique in providing an entirely online service. Francine’s research interest relate to technology and the future of legal education- she is currently researching how law schools’ can develop pedagogies that equip law students to deal with the protean nature of technological change. 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

The Futures of Legal Education and Practice Annual Conference 2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - 10:00 to 16:30

Michael Young Building, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Contact: Emma Jones

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