Juss-Buss is a Norwegian pro-bono law organisation that provides legal aid for free. The organisation was founded by law students in 1971 when they decided to do a research about the need for legal aid and drove around Norway with a bus – this is also where the name “Juss-Buss“ comes from.
Even though they do not have the bus anymore and have settled in Oslo it is still law students who run the organisation. Around 30 students do research on law issues and inform clients mostly on a voluntary basis alongside their studies. Our interview partner Hedda Larsen Borgan is the managing director and the only one working there as a full-time job. She took one and a half years off stu-dying to try to make a difference for the people. Primarily the students support people who are less fortunate and do not have the means to get a lawyer.
They have specialised on Family Law, Debt and Insolvency Law, Employment Law, Social Security, Immigration Law, Tenancy and Prison Law. Whenever they have any difficulties with the matter they can ask their supervisor at university. At Juss-Buss they see “outreach work“ as a big task because “the most vulnerable will not come to them but have to be reached by the volunteers.“ They also organise demonstrations and debates where politicians, experts and ordinary people come together to discuss law specific topics that have been in the media recently. 80% of their work consists of particular cases and consultancy for which they also prepare brochures and textbooks about different subject-matter. Another important part of their work is to confront politicians with the impact the laws they make have on the people. They see themselves as “watchdogs“ who have the peoples’ best interest at heart and try to influence politics wherever the legal system is fraught with problems for their cli-ents. As many of their clients do not have the right to vote because they are here illegally or are imprisoned they try giving them a voice in the Norwegian democracy.
Report by Giulia (Italy), Thomas (Belgium), Hannah (Germany)