Public legal education

Five-year policy objective: The LSB is perceived as being at the forefront of enhancing public legal education

The LSB has a regulatory objective in section 1 of the Act of ‘increasing public understanding of the citizen’s legal rights and duties’. Knowledge about the legal system and legal rights and responsibilities makes members of the public more able to participate as active citizens in society and to recognise the fundamental value of the rule of law.

We want to see improvements in everyone’s awareness of the legal system and their confidence in accessing it. In particular, we want to help ensure that:

  • Those vulnerable groups that disproportionately experience issues that involve them in the legal system have the knowledge and capability they need to engage with it., and that
  • More individuals and small businesses should be able to recognise when their problem is a legal one and know how to get help when they need it – and this should ultimately lead to less ‘unintentional’ unmet legal need.

We know that there are a considerable number of organisations that have been active for many years in promoting PLE. We want to work in partnership with others on PLE to help improve access to justice and, through early intervention, to help prevent the legal issues experienced by individuals and small businesses spiralling into more serious problems through lack of confidence and capability. There may also be a role for the LSB in encouraging the frontline regulators to simplify their public-facing processes, and to develop more cross-regulator coherence in those processes, to build public confidence in navigating the sector.

With this in mind, in 2019/20 we will build our understanding of the range of organisations active in PLE and engage with possible partners. We will also use our own and others’ existing research and data, and where necessary develop our own research, to identify key gaps in public knowledge and to establish a baseline of legal capability to allow impact monitoring in future years.

Further details on the project, including timelines and milestones, will be added as the project is scoped.

On 24 February 2020 we published new research into legal capability. The research was based on the findings of our 2019 survey of the legal needs of individuals on England and Wales.