The Open University’s Open Justice Centre has become the first university in the UK to use legal automation platform, Josef, to educate Law students.

Josef – which is used by the best legal teams around the world – is being used as part of the Open Justice Centre’s Digital Justice project.

In collaboration with Josef, final-year OU Law students will spend 12 weeks designing and building a legal bot that addresses an area of legal need, such as domestic violence or divorce.

Hugh McFaul, Director of the Open Justice Centre, said:

“It’s wonderful to see Josef giving our students such insight into how the legal world is moving on in this modern, technological age. The collaboration is future-proofing our Law students and helping them to develop technical, project management, and design skills, while encouraging them to consider how we might close the access to justice gap. Experience like this is invaluable.”

Josef is used by legal teams from around the world, including Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith Freehills. Josef 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 are proud to be the technology 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 can’t wait to see what the students build.”

Elsewhere on the Digital Justice projects, the students have been developing other innovative legal technology solutions such as smartphone apps, to improve public access to legal information and guidance in areas of employment law.

Law student Laurie Elizabeth-Ketley added:

“We may not be able to solve the five billion unmet justice needs overnight, but every single person helped is a step in the right direction." 

The kick-off workshop with Josef took place on 30 January 2020  and involved 15  students. Associate Lecturer, David Byrne, said following the kick-off session: "The students are very excited and enthusiastic. In fact, they're building already! It’s inspirational for them to hear about ‘real-world’ experiences and it’s given them the impetus to learn more about how to apply the technology to solving real problems."

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