Digital Justice

Digital justice

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Public understanding of law
  3. Digital justice

Digital justice

The Open Justice Centre strives to give students the opportunity to consider how technology can be used to support the public understanding of law. Students design and build apps and chatbots that provide legal information on a specified legal topic. The project does not require students to have specific technology skills such as coding, but students must be willing to learn technical and project management skills and have an interest in legal design.

Students learn how to develop a legal chatbot using a platform developed by Josef. Students are given a brief and then spend time researching the legal issues before they start designing their solution. Students are introduced to design thinking and in particular explores the importance of human centred design.

Some of our 2023 project students talk about their experiences of the project below and you can see examples of the chatbots they created.


Natalie Robson

'I work in the tech industry and was really interested in the project for that reason. Finding a role where I can combine my law degree and my experience in tech is my ultimate goal. I enjoyed breaking down the law into bite sized pieces that work as a flowchart, it was really insightful and gave me a different perspective of using legislation for this purpose. The project was a great experience - it was a combination of challenging and fun.'

Natalie's Chatbot : The Legal Glovebox

Trevor Fletcher

Trevor Fletcher

'I learnt in the project that the immediate future of the legal landscape will not be static, with LawTech having significant impact in terms of access to justice. I also learnt that LawTech services has the important potential and capability of providing better certainty, clarity and predictability on legal issues, a much-needed requirement where there is so much noise. Engaging in the project, I developed technical skills on how to develop a chatbot and experienced the behind-the-scenes workings of this system. What I enjoyed most was seeing my bot slowly came alive, a working tool to solve a problem. That was pretty cool. I also enjoyed experiencing how each bot contribution was unique, and the different approaches used to solve different problems.'

Trevor's chatbot : Redeeming Ground Rent

You can see some more examples of student chatbots on our project archive page.

Josef Logo

The Open Justice Centre is the first UK university to use legal automation platform Josef

In collaboration with Josef, OU Law students spent 12 weeks designing and building legal bots (software application) that addresses an area of legal need, such as domestic violence or divorce. Josef is used by the best legal teams around the world, including Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith Freehills. It focuses on making legal services more accessible, efficient, and seamless by empowering lawyers to automate parts of their day-to-day work, including lawyer-client interactions, document drafting and providing legal guidance and advice.

Sam Flynn, Co-founder and COO of Josef, added: “We have been very impressed with the students’ chatbots so far and the quality of the work they have produced. We are proud to be the technology partner behind The Open University’s Open Justice project, and to be working with the UK’s biggest university on training the lawyers of the future. We are also an excellent match, both believing in the democratisation of knowledge through tools like tech. It’s crucial that we find out how we can exploit technology to improve legal support in the UK and around the world".

"We’re striving to focus students on meeting user needs without compromising the depth of legal information in the apps. We’ve used technology that is powerful but non-intrusive, and intuitive rather than a distraction. The Josef product was a true success for us in this regard, and the solutions that were developed during the relatively short project were, quite frankly, amazing..”  David Byrne, Project Manager