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What is Legal Literacy?

by Jacqui Brauman

What is Legal Literacy?

by Jacqui Brauman

by Jacqui Brauman

Legal literacy, or legal awareness, is sometimes also thought of as public legal education. But it essentially empowers individuals regarding issues involving the law, who are not lawyers, judges or others in the legal industry.

The goals and objectives of legal literacy is for the public to:

  1. recognise when they have an issue that has a legal resolution, or they have a legal right or obligation
  2. learn how to find relevant free resources and information that you need
  3. learn how to find and work with a lawyer who has the correct skills for what you need
  4. learning how to communicate in a way that is clear and respected by your own lawyer or even others you are negotiating with
  5. learning how to take the necessary action to avoid problems, and where possible, how to help themselves appropriately
  6. having confidence that the legal system will provide a remedy and understanding of the process enough to know when justice has been done, and
  7. even being able to hold your lawyer accountable for quality of service and effectiveness. 

Legal literacy can empower people to demand justice, accountability and effective remedies. Legal issues always have the potential to become a crisis if ignorance prevents someone from anticipating the legal troubles and getting timely information or advice. Crises clearly magnify the impact on someone’s life unnecessarily. 

Without legal literacy people can also feel intimidated and alienated from the law. This may lead people from coming into conflict with the law, having poor experiences, and not being able to obtain help when they need it.

Traditional models of trying to promote legal awareness and legal literacy has typically been boring, hard to engage with, and not used as a preventative measure. It has been provided through lectures and workshops, crash programs, short courses, books, posters, brochures, and materials distributed primarily by government organisations.

The rule of law is that everyone is subject to the law – individuals, lawmakers, corporations, governments and Kings. But without legal literacy, the concept of the rule of law doesn’t provide the protects it should, if people are giving up their rights without knowing.

Hence, education and increasing legal literacy is imperative. 

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