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Francine Ryan

Profile summary

Professional biography

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

Francine's first degree was a LLB (Hons) in Law at the University of Lancaster.  She then went on to complete the LPC and qualified as a solicitor in 1996. Whilst working as a solicitor, Francine completed a part time Masters in Law and a MSc in Management. Francine worked in practice for over 10 years as a senior solicitor handling complex litigation cases. Francine is currently completing her PhD in Educational Research at Lancaster University. 

Francine is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

Francine is a member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association, and the Association of Law Teachers she is also a trustee of the Clinical Legal Education Organisation.  

Research interests

Francine’s main areas of interest are clinical legal education in particularly technology enhanced learning. The Open Justice Clinic has been the object of considerable interest from scholars of legal education, given its innovative approach to combining experiential learning with cutting edge legal technologies. 

Francine  has published her research in academic journals and has been an invited speaker at international conferences including an event celebrating 50 years of Hong Kong Law School. Francine is interested in the intersection between law and technology and is working on a research project that explore the skills, attributes and capabilities law graduates require to transition into the future world of legal work. 



Teaching interests

As the Director of the Open Justice Centre, Francine has worked to develop a range of innovative and technology enhanced opportunities for OU students. Francine created and is now the Director of the Open Justice Online Law Clinic. In this role she has worked with students to pioneer the UK's first 'virtual law clinic. The clinic was highly commended in the 'Best New Pro Bono Project' category athe Attorney General's Pro Bono Awards in December 2018 and won the 'Best Legal Tech' prize in May 2019.

She also leads the digital justice project, the Open Justice Centre as become the first university in the UK to use legal automation platform, Josef to educate law students. Francine is working with colleagues on a  Virtual Reality Courtroom project which will support both teaching and learning and knowledge exchange. Francine has written OU teaching materials on pro bono, social justice and legal skills. 

Francine was a finalist in The Law Teacher of the Year 2020 . She is also a co-author of Digital Lawyering that is due to published by Taylor & Francis later this year.

External collaborations

Francine is the editor of the Journal of Commonwealth Law and Legal Education (the Journal of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association). 

Francine was awarded a grant from the Equality and Human Rights Commission for a collaborative project with AdviceUK to develop Human Rights and Discrimination training for the free advice sector. She was also involved in developing the UNODC Implementing the United Nations Education for Justice (E4J) initiative in your university course.

Francine is also one of the academic advisors on the critically acclaimed second series of the BBC/OU television documentary series, The Detectives 

Francine is a regular columnist for Lawyer Monthly.