'Ready for Everything'

The Early Action Task Force, set up by Community Links, has produced a timely report arguing for readiness and early action as key elements of a preventive approach to social action.

They ask, 'How do we build a society that prevents problems from occurring rather than one that, as now, copes with the consequences?'  Their 'Triple Dividend' report makes a detailed and persuasive case for a change in thinking, echoing many of the arguments for public legal education.   

The report uses the familiar image of the 'fence at the top of the cliff rather than the ambulance at the bottom', and extends this image to provide a very effective graphic which illustrates the relationship between enabling services at the top of the cliff and acute and containing services at the bottom.

These different services are sometimes presented as alternatives but, as the graphic makes clear, they are all part of a coherent whole. They take place at different times and are different in nature but they are essential parts of a complete strategy.

The advice and legal sector suffers from too narrow a focus on acute services at the expense of enabling and preventive work. The Triple Dividend report argues for a shift in thinking towards enabling services and the positive approach of readiness and capability.

Advice and legal services need to start making the same shift. This report is an important contribution to the debate.

Read: The Triple Dividend and being 'ready for everthing'   

A study into best practice in community legal information

Caroline Lindberg, a leading expert from Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) reviews Joh Kirby's report of her Churchill Fellowship travels. Joh, Executive Director of the Victoria Law Foundation, travelled to Canada, the US and Europe looking at the development of community legal information. The report debates the use of new technologies compared to the continued focus on hardcopy publications. Caroline writes:

‘Our understanding of how best to use new technologies will flow from an understanding of our audiences and how to reach them. By recognising simultaneously the potential in new technologies and the enduring value of print, the report underlines the idea that what is effective must be more important than what is cheapest or most ‘innovative’.

The report’s recommendations are aimed at finding ways to support and strengthen the sector by increasing awareness of the benefits of the work we do, conducting research to help us do it better, exchanging information with others doing similar work, and investigating both the establishment of awards and standards.

Read: Review of international study on community legal information

Justice through knowledge: A new vision for public legal education in Vietnam


In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Canadian Justice Education Society (JES) showcased this fascinating documentary about developing a model for public legal education in Vietnam. JES worked with the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice and with local people to produce clear, easily-understood legal information for marginalised groups, and in particular for farmers with land disputes and for women on marriage and divorce.

Read: Public legal education in Vietnam
Watch: A new vision for public legal education in Vietnam
60 second interview with Kim Economides
After a distinguished academic career in the UK, Professor Kim Economides now heads a research centre in New Zealand. Kim stresses the importance of law-related education in schools and universities saying that early awareness of the law and legal rights provides the foundation for successful public legal education.

‘I would like to see PLE activists focus far more attention on schools, teachers and pupils. Academic lawyers should become more interested in secondary schools as places that promote general awareness of law and legal rights. In other words, PLE activity should concern itself with what happens during as well as after school.’

Eyes on Law
Kim Economides and daughter Zoe write about the power of photography to capture alternative representations of the law and influence legal consciousness.

Eyes on Law: Making legal research, law and justice visable
In the Information under threat article In our last newsletter we referred to changes to Directgov to 'streamline' content. The beta test version of the new website is now live.

View beta test Directgov.


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Law for Life
March 2012

Copyright © 2012 Law for Life: the Foundation for Public Legal Education, All rights reserved.
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