Welcome to the Open Justice Project!
It seems only fitting to be writing these words in National Pro Bono week 2016, as Open Justice is the new pro bono project being developed by the Open University. As the project develops, we hope to use this blog to keep you updated with our progress and also to invite guest bloggers (students, academics, legal professionals and others) to share their thoughts on pro bono work. In the meantime, here’s an introduction to what Open Justice is all about…
What does pro bono mean?
Pro bono comes from the latin phrase pro bono publico which is translated as “for the public good”. In the context of law, it refers to free legal advice, training and education provided by legal professionals to members of the public, community organisations and other interested groups.
Why has the Open University set up a pro bono project?
As the largest provider of undergraduate legal education in the UK, the Open University Law School is committed to providing students with more than just high quality academic tuition. Social justice was one of the OU’s founding principles and it remains a central concern today. We believe in the value of giving our law students the opportunity to use their hard won legal skills and knowledge to engage positively with the public and in the importance of embedding legal ethics, professional responsibility and an appreciation of the value of public service into their student experience.
What will the Open Justice project involve?
We are in the early stages of development, so some parts may be subject to change, but at present we are planning:
- A virtual law clinic with our students providing advice on contract, tort and consumer law to members of the public over the internet.
- A public understanding of law programme with our students presenting interactive sessions on various legal issues (including cyber-bullying) to schools, prisons and other organisations.
- A 30 credit optional level 3 law module based around the above activities.
How can I get involved?
As well as this blog, we will also be providing regular updates on the project on twitter @OU_OpenJustice so please do follow us. If you are an Open University law student, look out for emails in winter 2016/spring 2017 letting you know how you can be involved. If you are an organisation or individual who is interested in working with us on developing our project, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Emma, Hugh and Francine
The Open Justice Team