Digital Justice

Digital justice

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Digital justice

The Open Justice Digital Justice project is intended 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.

Through the course of the sixteen week extra curricular project 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. The Digital Justice project uses design thinking and in particular explores the importance of human centred design.

The 2021 project culminated in the Digital Justice competition where they pitched their bot to judges Sam Flynn from Josef and Adam Hunter from Clifford Chance.

The winning submission by Elizabeth Hill was a housing repair bot, Rodger the Repairs Bot, aimed at tenants to get them the help they need. The bot not only provided legal information and guidance, but it also created a letter for the user to send to their landlord. 

Finalists James Cheeseman Bot and Peter Bratt Bot developed bots to support the work of our Open Justice Law Clinic. Kate Wells's Bot provided information and guidance on housing issues.

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 to educate Law students, as part of its Digital Justice project. In collaboration with Josef, final year OU Law students spent 12 weeks designing and building a legal bot (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 Digital 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. We look forward to continuing with Josef as a core element of the Digital Justice project and extending the programme in the coming years.”  David Byrne, Project Manager