The Permanent Observatory for Justice (OPJ) at the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra was created in 2000. Its main objectives are to carry out interdisciplinary research on the justice system through socio-juridical studies, particularly in the areas of fundamental rights, access to law and justice, the administration and management of justice, the legal professions, recruitment and training of judicial actors, alternative means of dispute resolution and judicial cooperation, monitoring, analysing and publicising the performance of courts and other institutions and auxiliary judicial activities such as the police, prisons and social reintegration services, and informing the public debate on areas of law and justice.

Contributing to public policies on justice is one of the essential dimensions of the work of the OPJ, both through comparative studies and socio-juridical studies to support the preparation of reforms, the presentation of reform proposals and draft laws in various areas of justice, and through studies to evaluate and monitor reforms.

The spread of knowledge produced, to inform the public debate around the issues studied, experiments with different strategies, such as participating in international research networks, organising or participating in scientific meetings and events with the presence of judicial and civil society actors, a regular presence in the media, and the publication and wide dissemination of newsletters as part of ongoing projects.

Considering its various objectives, OPJ action has focused not only on Portugal, but also on the European Union, on Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, especially Angola and Mozambique and on East Timor.

The main results of the research carried out by the OPJ are published in books, national and international journals specialising in the field of sociology and law, reports, proposals for reforms and preliminary draft laws.

In 2011, the creation of the Legal and Judicial Training Unit (UNIFOJ) made it possible to conduct advanced, in-person and distance learning courses on various issues within law and justice.