PLE Theory & Practice

Public Legal Education (PLE) began to take shape in Canada in the late 1960s and early 70s as various agencies responded to the legal information needs of activists, protesters, drop-outs, and the otherwise disenchanted who saw that the law was affecting their lives in a direct way. While many of the first efforts in meeting these needs were short term and ad hoc, by the mid-70s several provinces sported organizations that existed for the sole purpose of providing PLE.

Today, PLE has become an integral part of the Canadian legal landscape. It is a nation-wide enterprise that enables Canadians to learn more about virtually any aspect of the law through a variety of formats and at varying levels of sophistication. PLE makes access to legal knowledge a realistic expectation for thousands of Canadians. That knowledge is often the key to accessing and engaging effectively with the justice system; whether as citizens, litigants, witnesses, or jurors.

Lois Gander 
Director, Legal Studies Program

Suggested Resources


Just a Click Away is an initiative to enhance how technology can be used to deliver legal education and information to the public in Canada. The initiative features three stages: a  report discussing emerging trends in how social media and web 2.0 technologies can be used to provide legal education and information; a series of webinars exploring different models to provide access online to public legal education and information; and a national conference on technology and public legal education.

Related legal topic(s): Public legal education organizations, Research reports and institutes

In February 2002, the Department of Justice Canada contracted with the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research to develop an inventory of strategies and methods used in sharing family violence law information with people living in rural areas. The inventory categorizes the various methods and makes recommendations regarding most promising practices. Ultimately this inventory is intended to serve as a blueprint for agencies that deliver family violence information in rural areas. This PDF (59 pages, 2002) is available for free download.

Related legal topic(s): Family violence general resources, Research reports and institutes

This online resource is an article written for the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice Summer 2003 newsletter by Lois E. Gander LLM, Legal Resource Centre. (newsletter PDF – 24 p.)

Related legal topic(s): Public legal education organizations

This website is dedicated to the development of the theory and practice of public legal education in Canada. It not only draws together physical and electronic resources dealing with PLE, it also provides a virtual space in which PLE providers can generate, articulate, share, and manage knowledge about public legal education.

Related legal topic(s): Research reports and institutes