One of the main strategies used in Public Legal Education has been to work with people who are already a resource for a particular segment of the public. These intermediaries help to extend the reach of PLE agencies to those who may be marginalized geographically or virtue of some other attribute.
Who is an intermediary?
Historically, intermediaries has included teachers, librarians, court workers, staff of community and social services, clergy, and others who are the ‘go to’ people for their communities. Recently, the term ‘trusted intermediaries’ has entered the PLE lexicon. While it has a lot of appeal, it suggests that everyone has someone they trust that they can turn to for legal support. Sometimes, a stranger is the only or even preferred option. Some people may need to deal with someone who doesn’t know them at all. Anonymity may be essential to their safety.
What are intermediaries trained to do?
The term ‘training’ has a variety of meanings ranging from raising awareness about legal services and resources to mastering specific skills needed in a particular context.
Many intermediary training programs have the limited purpose of assisting participants in making effective referrals to other agencies. The content of these training programs often consist of an explanation of the law and legal processes relevant to a particular legal topic plus a discussion of relevant agencies that can help people experiencing the legal problem being discussed. They usually
More specific intermediary training may focuses on the actual skills the intermediary needs to perform their roles effectively. That might include interviewing, research, advocacy, or problem-solving skills. These programs tend to provide the opportunity to practice skills under supervision, either in a classroom setting or on-the-job.
Resources of Interest
Bridging the gap: access to justice through legal intermediaries http://www.slaw.ca/2013/10/23/