Public legal education (PLE) helps people engage with legal and social justice issues. Some organizations call this work
- public legal information
- community legal education (CLE),
- legal literacy,
- legal capability, or
- legal empowerment.
The terms ‘education’ and ‘information’ are also sometimes used interchangeably and even together as in public legal education and information (PLEI).
When PLE occurs in a school setting it may be called law-related education (LRE).
How did public legal education come to be?
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.
What is public legal education good for?
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 engage Canadians in promoting robust notions of equality, fairness, and social justice.
A recent document, Value of PLEI Organizations in Canada August 2018, details some of the benefits of PLE to Canadians.
What does public legal education look like?
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 themselves. Their activities help people learn
- more about the law,
- how it works,
- how to access programs and services, and
- how to engage with it effectively for their own benefit
- how to use it as a tool to create a more just society.
The PLE community aspires to ground its practice in theory and to test that theory in practice.
Who’s doing this work?
Hundreds of organizations are involved in assisting Canadians to engage in law-related activities. 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. I hope it will help us to improve how we think about and respond to challenges in our 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. Please help me out. Together, we will create a body of knowledge and practices that will increase the impact of both our individual and collective efforts.
Drop me a note!
If you have visiting this site, I’d love to hear from you. What brought you here? Did you find what you needed? Let me know!
Wishing you all the very best in your work,
Lois Gander, Q.C. Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org