The Open Justice Centre is pleased to present our fifth annual e-festival of public legal education.
During this week, running 6 June -10 June 2022, we will be presenting legal education activities which have been written and presented by students of the W360 Justice in Action module and other law students.
The Open Justice policy clinic offers students the opportunity of gaining experience of carrying out legal policy and advocacy work for a charitable or third sector organisation or to influence government policy. Students carry out research, with the aim to influence policy and/or law reform. During the academic year 21-22 there were three groups working in the policy clinic on different projects.
One group worked on a project to establish the impact of climate emergency declarations (CEDs) made by local authorities in the East of England, in response to a brief provided by the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF). ELF is a charity which helps the voice of ordinary people and communities to be heard on matters affecting the environment in which they live. The student carried out research to determine how CEDs are taken account of in local authority decision making and the amount of community involvement. This involved Environmental Information regulations requests to local authorities and a desk based search of relevant websites, with the report being provided to ELF for their policy and advocacy work. This project built upon previous policy clinic research in this area.
A second group worked jointly with Northumbria University to research the impact of COVID-19 and the move to online court hearings on the public’s access to court hearing. The project researched how many hearings moved from face to face to online hearings and what arrangements were made for public access to hearings in the County Court, Crown Court and Court of Protection. Students carried our fieldwork by participating in the Open Justice project run by the Court of Protection and attended online Court of Protection hearings, providing feedback on the accessibility and ease of the process. The report was sent to the Open Justice project and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
The third group also worked jointly with Northumbria University to determine the issues and/or reluctance of private landlords when renting their property to tenants with cats and/or dogs, in response to a brief by the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS). SCAS promotes the study of human-companion animal interactions and raises awareness of the importance of pets in society. The research involved a survey to landlords and a selection of interviews with private landlords to explore the issues in the survey further and provide more in-depth qualitative data. The report will be used by SCAS in their policy and advocacy work.
In this section, our W360 students reflect on their experiences of working on projects this past year.
In this blog, Shazia Bashir reflects on her work in the Mediation Project.
In this blog, Gillian Warwick-Thompson reflects on her volunteering work with IPSEA in the Independent Project.
In this blog, Jessica Jenner reflects on her work in the International Project.
In this blog, Dan Mander reflects on his work in the Freedom Law Clinic.
In this blog, Elizabeth Hill reflects on her work in the Open Justice Law Clinic.
Blogs from other students will be posted weekly on our blog during July and August 2022 so be sure to access it or subscribe for regular notifications.
The Open Justice Centre runs an in-house criminal justice clinic where students research and advise on live criminal cases under the direct supervision of a solicitor. We also work on projects in collaboration with the Freedom Law Clinic (FLC) which is 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.
The students consider the evidence and unused material on a live criminal case where the convicted defendant continues to protest their innocence. Students carry out research and apply legal principles to determine whether there are any grounds for referral to the Criminal Cases Review Commission or for an appeal to be made.
The cases involve serious criminal offences such as murder, manslaughter, serious assault and drugs cases, amongst others. Students are provided with appropriate training and have weekly supervision meetings with the supervising solicitor and case worker. Students obtain valuable legal, professional and collaboration skills whilst the client obtains a well thought out advice on their case.
In 2022 we ran four consecutive projects, one with the Freedom Law Clinic for W360 'Justice in action' students and three projects with the Criminal Justice Clinic which also involves students from other law modules who participate on a voluntary basis.
In this blog, Iain Service ( on behalf of the 'Green/Blue' Team) reflects on the team's work in the recent Freedom Law Clinic project.