Public legal education (PLE) refers to activities that empower people to address their own legal matters as well as broader social justice issues. Some organizations call this work community legal education (CLE), law-related education (LRE), legal literacy, legal capability, or legal empowerment. The terms ‘education’ and ‘information’ are also sometimes used interchangeably!
PLE is deeply rooted in the access to justice movement in Canada. It plays a critical role in ensuring that our legal system serves the needs of everyone, not just a privileged few. In fact, PLE has a variety of uses. Some initiatives help individuals achieve a moment of justice in resolving a personal matter. Others help organizations better serve marginalized communities. Still others help to ensure that Canadians embrace robust notions of equality, fairness, and social justice.
PLE is ground-breaking work. It calls for innovative resources, programs, and services to meet diverse needs. In meeting those challenges, PLE organizations have set high standards for what the public can expect when they want to know more about the law, how it works, how to access programs and services, and how to engage with it effectively. The PLE community has worked to ground its practice in theory and to test that theory in practice.
Hundreds of organizations are involved in assisting Canadians to engage in law-related activities of interest to them. Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, to name only a handful of countries, also have PLE organizations and initiatives.
LawCentral Alberta provides the most comprehensive list of agencies involved in public legal education.
Purpose of PLECanada
The purpose of this site is to encourage the development of a community of practice in PLE. The site captures experiences and insights, shares stories and resources, and otherwise helps us to improve how we think about and respond to challenges in this work.
Join the PLECanada community
This site is a collective effort. I curate it as much as time allows – posting thoughts, documents, and other resources that I encounter. I welcome your contributions. Together, we will create a body of knowledge and practices that will increase the impact of both our individual and collective efforts.
For more information
To become an active participant on this site or to send me your comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you all the very best in your work,
Professor Lois Gander, Q.C. Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta December 12, 2017