There is no ‘official’ definition of public legal education (PLE). It is a generic term for any activity that helps the public or some segment of it be more aware of some aspect of the legal system. From there is quickly becomes more complex. The diverse range of underlying ideologies and the myriad ways they are manifested in action sometimes makes it hard to find much of a family resemblance between all that is included under the PLE umbrella.
Some see PLE as a narrowly defined set of activities that transmit discrete bits of information from one person (usually a lawyer) to another person most likely directly but perhaps indirectly.
Others embrace a more expansive and dynamic use of the term to capture on-going public engagement with legal matters that call on individuals both within and beyond the formal legal system to cooperate in
- co-creating knowledge;
- generating insights;
- developing critical thinking, analysis, and practice skills; and
- acquiring competencies and confidence in using legal resources and remedies to address personal, professional, community, or social issues.
These issues are examined more fully in the section of this site Definining PLE.
Public Legal Education – What is it and why should we care about it by Walter Pavlic. Law Matters, April 2005. Canadian Bar Association Alberta.
What is public legal education? Department of Justice Canada.