Evaluating legal literacy programmes - aims, challenges, models and a call to action


  • Richard Grimes




Generally speaking, if one asks most people whether improving public understanding of the law and legal system is a good thing, most hands will go up. This is perhaps no surprise. An improved level of legal literacy should not only raise awareness of rights and responsibilities but may well provide people with more of an informed choice about what to do if they encounter legal issues. It might give those concerned the tools and confidence to address some of these problems themselves through self-help and it may address, at least to some degree, inequalities that otherwise exist. Overall, improving levels of legal literacy could enhance access to justice more generally. The generic term often ascribed to raising legal awareness amongst the wider population is public legal education (PLE).There is a wealth of anecdotal material suggesting that all of the above is highly relevant and impactful but there is little by way of clear empirical evidence to substantiate such claims.  This article will look at the need for, and means of, developing such an evidence base and ends with a plea for more research, sharing of ideas and collaboration in terms of evaluating PLE.

Author Biography

Richard Grimes

Formerly Director of Clinical Programmes, York Law School, University of York, UK and now a legal education and access to justice consultant.






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