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The Importance of Public Legal Education

The Importance of Public Legal Education

Public legal education (PLE) has been a topic of significant discussion in recent years. But what does PLE mean, and why is it crucial for both the public and the legal profession?

PLE campaigns aim to increase public understanding of legal issues, enabling individuals to navigate their own problems more effectively. These initiatives also highlight the critical role solicitors and the legal profession play in society. Moreover, PLE helps the public grasp what is at stake in major political debates.

The Law Safeguards Our Freedoms

The law permeates all aspects of our society, guaranteeing our freedoms and distinguishing a just society from one where might is right. It sets the framework for democracy and protects against authoritarianism, serving as a vital tool in advocating for various causes.

Understanding Government, Parliament, and the Courts

Since 2016, public understanding of the relationship between government, parliament, and the courts has been low. This misunderstanding has led to unjust attacks on judges performing their democratic duties. Successful judicial reviews ensure public bodies act within their lawful powers, upholding the will of parliament over the government.

The Separation of Powers

The balance between the executive, legislature, and judiciary is fundamental to democracy. The separation of powers prevents the concentration of authority, providing necessary checks and balances. For instance, recent legislation regarding Rwanda’s safety status has raised concerns about undermining this balance.

Lockdown Rules and Legal Challenges

During the pandemic, rapidly implemented lockdown rules led to enforcement challenges and errors. Independent judges played a crucial role in ensuring people could contest incorrect penalties, highlighting the importance of judicial oversight.

Judicial Impartiality

Maintaining judicial impartiality is key to the separation of powers. Judges are appointed based on legal excellence, free from political influence, ensuring fair rulings even in cases involving government bodies. The politicization of the judiciary, as seen in the US, can undermine this balance.

Climate Change and Legal Action

Understanding the legal system enhances public interest campaigns, including those on climate change. Legal challenges, such as judicial reviews, can hold governments accountable for their environmental policies. Knowledge of legal rights is crucial for activists defending their actions against criminal charges.

Recognizing Legal Problems

Many people fail to recognize when they have a legal problem. Public legal education helps individuals identify issues that require legal assistance, ensuring more people seek the help they need and understand the role of lawyers in resolving their issues.


A well-informed public is essential for protecting freedoms, enforcing rights, and maintaining democracy. Supporting initiatives like Young Citizens’ Big Legal Lesson, which educates young people about their rights, and combating anti-lawyer rhetoric are vital for promoting the rule of law.

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