Jussbuss is a free legal aid clinic run by law students. We started as a research project in 1971, with the purpose of investigating whether there was an unfulfilled need for legal aid. It turned out there was a major need for legal advice among the general public. As a result of this, Jussbuss has kept going until today. We now consist of roughly 30 employees, who are all students.
Since the start, Jussbuss have been an organisation that does not only give legal aid, but also put our practical experience to good use through research and political work. At the same time, the organisation has changed a lot since the start. Below you can read about Jussbuss’ work in the 1970s, written by the founder of Jussbuss, Gunnar de Capua.
The Start of Jussbuss
On the 24th of September 1971, the “Law students’ legal information” – later named Jussbuss – opened its doors to the public of Oslo. From a small bus, bought and decorated for this purpose, law students from the University of Oslo offered free legal guidance to the public.
The background for this was as follows: in the autumn of 1969, a number of students at the Faculty of Law began to pursue the idea of a legal aid clinic. The fact that legal services were distributed in such a way that those with few resources had the least access to legal aid, and the uncertainty as to the need for legal aid among these groups, meant that this task was perceived to be important. At the same time, many students felt the need for the law studies to be supplemented with more practical social-oriented work.
However, from the beginning it was clear to the participants that it would be insufficient only to provide legal aid without simultaneously conducting research to discover why people did not seek help to solve their legal problems. Such research could be done in several different ways. One way was to distribute a questionnaire. Another alternative could be to interview a representative selection to get a picture of the reality. The latter option might give a slightly more sophisticated impression than the first one.
A form of the last option would be to offer legal aid in exchange for information from those we offered to help. Then, the research would be even more sophisticated. At the same time, one would avoid certain ethical concerns often associated with surveys. The purpose would be partly to conduct sociological fieldwork, and partly, through exchange of information, to get a nuanced image of the actual legal aid situation. Later, this approach would prove to give further perspective.
-Gunnar De Capua, founder of Jussbuss