Jessica is a law lecturer at the Open University. She took her undergraduate law degree at Durham University and her masters in international human rights law and European Union law at Bristol University. She studied theology at the Open Theological College and theology of law at Spurgeon’s College. She qualified as a Solicitor in 1991 and transferred to the bar in 2016. She has worked as a law reporter for the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales in the Chancery, Queen’s Bench and Administrative Divisions of the High Court as well as in the Court of Justice of the European Union. She has taught EU external relations law at Bristol University and a level 1 module, Rules, rights and justice, and a level 2 module, Understanding law covering English legal systems and EU law, at the Open University. She gained her Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2015 and Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2016.
Jessica’s area of research interest is the synthesis between law & religion studies, constitutional theory and philosophical theology. This involves research into freedom of thought conscience and religion and related fundamental rights and the legal scope of religious freedom in public life. She is currently working on the theoretical basis for freedom of thought conscience and religion in a comparatiave theological context with particular focus on non-Western liberal democratic contexts. As Associate Editor of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion she has a worldwide brief to report cases and publish case comments on cases of constitutional significance in the field of law and religion.
Jessica is Director of the Project on Interdisciplinary Law and Religion Studies at the Open University: http://law-school.open.ac.uk/research/PILARS. This is a reserach hub for law and religion academics.
Jessica carries out scholarship research in the field of online learning having led a team to win the Stan Marsh prize for best paper at the Association of Law Teachers’ Conference 2016. Her current reserach interests focus on employability.
Her published works include numerous law reports and case notes for the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (2000-2013) and the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion (2012-to date). Her case comments cover law and religion issues including “The Brüstle and Eli Lilly cases: Creation - God or humankind?” (2012) OJLR 1(2): 518; “The Exercise of Religious Freedom in a Commercial Context: Preddy v Bull and other cases. (2014) OJLR 3(3): 512; “Parillo v Italy: Is there life in the European Court of Human Rights?” (co-authored with Professor Simon Lee) (2016) OJLR 5(1):162; Lee v McArthur: a proportionate restriction on religious freedom rights?  PILARS CC3; A hoped for coherent and permissive EU religious freedom policy: the Bougnaouiand Achbita cases  PILARS CC1; Neutrality in the business sphere: an encroachment on rights protection and state sovereignty? (2018) OJLR 7(2):_.
She is co-editor with Dr Andrea Pin and Professor Frank S. Ravtich of the book 'Law, Religion and Tradition' for which she has authored a chapter on "Tradition as a Peacebuilding Tool". Springer, forthcoming 2018.
In the field of the scholarship of teaching and learning she has published “The Superfoods of Online Learning”: Journal of Commonwealth law and legal education Vol 11.1 Autumn 2016.
She is currently working on a chapter for a second Springer volume 'A theologically grounded dialogical approach to rights frameworks as a tool for peacebuilding' (Dawid Bunikowski and Alberto Puppo eds). Forthcoming 2019.
Jessica is currently module chair of the OU masters degree module W822 'Business Law, Social Responsiblity and Human Rights' and on the module teams of a masters module W820 on reserach methodology and an undergraduate module W203 on public and criminal law.
Jessica is an APPLAUD mentor, mentoring colleagues for FHEA and SFHEA.
Jessica is an associate editor of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion and member of the council of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics. She is a member of the Law and Religion Scholars Network and the International Consortium of Law and Religion Scholars.
She enjoys working with the highly successful OU student law soceity mooting team.
Jessica works with a team of visiting academics including Dr Ján Figeľ, Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion outside the EU, Professor Edward Abbott-Halpin, Professor of Peace Studies at Leeds-Beckett University, Professor Zachary Calo, Hamad Bin Halifa University, Qatar, Dr Mark Goldfeder, Senior Lecturer, Emory University, USA, Sabina Garahan, case note editor on the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion.
She collaborates with NGOs specialising in religious freedom projects including The Institute for Global Engagement, The Religious Freedom in Business Foundation, The Faith and Belief Forum, Global One, The Hart Foundation and MEC International Ltd.
She is working with a team from Leeds Beckett and Arooj researching into the pastroal training requirements of Imams.