About the Committee

The current OULS Committee comprises 11 volunteer officers:


Chair: James Sudworth

Based in Bristol, James has spent the past two years as OULS News Editor, and now takes his seat as Chair of the OULS. Additionally, James’ three years as a Bar Manager/Wedding Events Coordinator, 8 years as a Professional Poker Player, 2 years as working in Maritime Security and 1 year at his present Law Firm, have given him vital cross-discipline professional skills. James has also put his social skills to good use, by organising many social events across the UK – “just because we are non-campus based, it doesn’t mean we should miss out on the enjoyable student lifestyle”, he says.

James is currently finishing his third year, studying the LLB with the OU (dropping down to part time for Stage 3), whilst also juggling a time consuming legal career and a family – making sleep a scarce commodity! James plans to graduate in 2018 and take the New York State Bar exam in 2019 to expand his options and enhance his CV. Outside of study and work, James loves mountain trail-running, self-sufficient gardening, and making his own homebrew elderflower champagne!


Contact James:




Vice-Chair: Gwyn Hopkins

Based between London and Wales, Gwyn has been a Mooting Coordinator for the OULS since 2011 and finished his degree that same year, doing Company Law (W223) and Commercial Law (W222) for his final 60 points. Gwyn works as a technical consultant providing IT services to the financial industry. I hope to continue to support, not just mooting but to further the activities of the OULS in other areas in accordance with the consensus of members’ wishes.

When he is not working or studying, Gwyn keeps himself busy with various other responsibilities including sitting on the board of directors for a residential estate management company and the committee of a village conservation society. He is also an accredited mediator.


Contact Gwyn:




Secretary: India Joyce

Based in Somerset, India is in her penultimate year of part-time study having begun in early 2013. In addition to studying, she works full-time for a large public sector provider on local government contracts and will also be working on the OU’s Open Justice project later this year. As part of the OULS committee, her ultimate aspiration is for the OU Law School and OULS to work together to hold a traditional law fair. In her spare time she loves horse riding, spending time with her family, friends and godchildren, and, travelling. She is also an advanced open water PADI diver and loves all things ‘Wire-Haired Fox Terrier’!


Contact India:



Master of the Moots: Michael Linnane

Mike is London based, has a banking and financial services background and is currently in his third year of the OU Bachelor of Laws (Hons) LLB, currently studying W302 and W330, with the intention of being called to the Bar. He has been an active member of the OULS for three years and has appreciated the guidance and experiences given to him during the Society’s workshops and mooting events and will enthusiastically continue the excellent work of his predecessors.

He was a quarter finalist in the 2017 Inner Temple Inter Varsity Moot and is looking forward to building on the many successes that the OULS has already had. Being very passionate about mooting, and the opportunities open to students, he aims to help increase membership with more demonstrations and workshops and is hopeful of obtaining some sponsorship deals to promote the OULS further.


Contact Michael:



Mistress of the Moots: Jennifer Wharton

Based in Coventry, Jennifer is currently in her fourth and final year, studying W301 and W221, and will complete her LLB this summer (2017).

Jennifer began studying Law in 2013 with the aim of changing career after running her small business for a number of years. After starting her Law degree, Jennifer found the OULS and after attending a workshop, developed a passion for mooting. As a result, she has competed in internal and external competitions over the past two years.

Keen to remain involved in OULS mooting events, Jennifer now takes up the role of ‘Mistress of the Moots’, and looks forward to supporting OULS mooters through mooting events and competitions over the forthcoming year. She aims to increase participation in OULS events and encourage OULS members to take part in mooting.

Outside of her studies she volunteers for her local Citizens Advice and a local animal rescue group and can often be found out leading lost pet searches around her local area.


Contact Jennifer



News Editor: Joseph Beet

Joseph is based in Birmingham and is doing his W300 module as part of his law degree with the OU. He hopes to use his degree to become a solicitor in the future, preferably working on Human Rights.  He currently works in patents and trademarks in Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as volunteering for a disaster relief charity. When Joe is not working or studying he is usually both hiking up hills and mountains (often slowly and out of breath) or scouring news and social media for news on politics. Spending the last year as OULS News Reporter, Joseph has taken on the role of News Editor to put his experience to good use.


Contact Joseph:



News Reporter #1: Catherine Duggan

Based in Colchester, Essex with her one-year-old son and a daughter whom is due in June; Catherine is currently studying W101 part time, though is looking to increase to full time after completing W102 in the next year. Catherine’s plan is to increase to full time study once the little ones are in nursery and look at volunteering with Citizens Advice to expand her CV and gain some further experience.

When all studies are complete, Catherine would like to work in criminal law working with CPS.

Before being a stay at home mum and student, Catherine has worked in customer services for car insurance and breakdown companies and sales for a large electronics company.

As a member of the News Team Catherine is looking at ways to make sure that the articles in the newsletter are articles that the members would like to read and find relevant to them.

In her free time, Catherine enjoys working out in exercise boot camps, doing yoga and Pilates to keep fit and unwind. Though to make sure she isn’t too healthy all the time, she enjoys doing bake days where numerous cakes, brownies and cookies get made and eaten!


Contact Catherine Duggan:



News Reporter #2: Catherine Howell

Catherine is based in Wiltshire and is doing W202 and W203 as part of her law degree with the OU. She intends to qualify as a solicitor and practice in the area of life sciences. She currently works as a Commercial Conveyancing Assistant in a local firm. Catherine is a dedicated Crossfit athlete and hopes to compete in more serious competitions next year. This year her goal is to back squat 100kg!


Contact Catherine Howell:



Careers Coordinator: TBC


Treasurer: Ann-Marie O’Neil

Ann-Marie is a current OU law undergraduate, studying W300 this year and, hopefully, completing her degree next year with W301. She hopes to join the Bar following a busy career in Project management at the Home Office in London.

The purpose of her project is to update and improve the communications systems for the emergency services including the police, fire service and ambulance.  She was one of the first members of staff to be placed into the project and was responsible for setting up the processes and procedures for cost control.

She plans on contributing to the fantastic work that she has experienced from the OULS to date, such as jointly winning the Internal Mooting Competition in front of the Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court, Lady Hale.


Contact Ann-Marie:



Systems Manager: Sarah Couling

As a mother of two, a law student and a full-time Probate legal assistant, Sarah has a lot on her plate. Having left nursing school in the US, she moved to England in 2008 to start a family. However, her ambition to pursue a career saw her join the Open University in 2013, to lay foundations for her future. Serving on various committees as vice chair, secretary and other positions, she is fully aware of the ‘ins and outs’ of procedures, and has already helped perfect the current systems that are in place.

A keen blogger, photographer and web designer, she runs various personal and professional websites and has a keen eye for detail. Sarah believes that the OULS is a fantastic forum for OULS members to become more socially interactive, and cannot wait to help expand relations between members.


Contact Sarah:




Officer for Scotland: Lidia Dancu

Lidia Dancu

Based in Edinburgh, Lidia is studying full-time for the graduate LLB (Hons) and will graduate in 2017.  Lidia has lived, studied and worked in a variety of fields all over the world and intends to bring this experience to her studies.

Lidia intends to create a strong presence for the OULS in Scotland, providing opportunities for other students to improve their skills, experience, access to law resources and career prospects.  she plans to run a variety of events across Scotland and to bridge the gap between OU law students, law professionals and academics.

Outside of work and study, Lidia loves cycling, sailing and travelling and spending time with friends and family.  She occasionally writes for an international design magazine.


Contact Lidia:





About the OULS >>>

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