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Twelve Days of Social Justice.....

Christmas lights in Milton Keynes 2021

Francine Ryan, Director of the Open Justice Centre and Senior Lecturer in Law leads us all in her annual festive sing-a-long. 

The festive season is upon us, so I thought I would bring you an alternative Twelve Days of Christmas designed for the social justice warrior in all of us. Don’t forget to sing….

On the first day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me social justice in legal education 

The Open Justice Centre is a bridge between the law school and the wider community to provide free legal advice and information to people and groups who may struggle to access appropriate legal support through other means.

On the second day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me two law clinic cases 

The Open Justice Law Clinic provides free legal advice to anyone with an internet communication. Students work together to interview, research and prepare a letter of advice that is supervised by a qualified solicitor. We hope that our virtual clinic allows us to reach clients who would not ordinarily be able to attend face to face meetings.

On the third day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me three street law presentations  

Our students visit schools and community groups to deliver street law presentations with the aim of promoting a greater understanding of law and legal issues. Students have delivered workshops on joint enterprise, knife crime and consent.

On the fourth day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me a four nations approach

The Open Justice Centre is unique in being able to engage with communities across the four nations of the United Kingdom. We have held public legal education events in Belfast, schools- based workshops in Scotland and prison-based work in Wales.

On the fifth day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me five legal briefs

Our students have the opportunity to work with the Freedom Law Clinic a not for profit company providing pro bono research and advice on appeals for people who have been convicted of very serious criminal offences but who are maintaining their innocence. Our students collaborate and submit a legal brief outlining potential grounds of appeal.

On the sixth day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me six freedom of information requests 

The Open Justice Centre offers a policy clinic providing legal and policy consultancy to a charity or organisation under the supervision of legal academics. Students are currently working with the Environmental Law Foundation looking at the response to climate change legislation and are making freedom of information requests as part of their research. 

On the seventh day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me seven mediations 

Our e-Mediation project transfers traditional mediation training to an online environment. The skills students develop in online communication and conflict resolution will be of wider benefit to them going forward. 

On the eighth day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me eight pro bono projects

Students on our W360 module, Justice in Action opt for a practical pro bono project. This year we were able to offer them a choice of eight Open Justice activities.

On the ninth day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me nine student chat bots

In response to the way technology is changing the way legal services are being delivered we developed digital justice, a project where students have the opportunity to work on a world class legal automation platform developed in Australia by Josef. Our students design and develop chat bots that support the dissemination of legal information.

On the tenth day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me ten x law students assisting

Open Justice launched in 2016, since its inception over 1070 students have engaged in Open Justice activities. 

On the eleventh day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me eleven prison projects

Our prison projects are an important part of our public legal education service and students have participated in projects in eleven prisons across England and Wales. Most of our projects are in partnership with St Giles Trust, students provide law seminars for prisoner and ex-prisoner peer advisors trained by St Giles Trust.

On the twelfth day of Christmas Open Justice sent to me twelve social justice warriors

We hope that by offering these projects we create social justice warriors and our students continue to advocate for social justice in their communities. We are incredibly proud of the work that our students do and the difference they make.

So, there you have it- a big thank you to all the students and community partners that we have worked with in 2021.

Francine Ryan Francine Ryan

Francine is the Director of the Open Justice Centre and Senior Lecturer in Law. 

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