PLE Evaluation Framework

The publication of the framework marks a breakthrough in our understanding of how to evaluate public legal education. It offers practitioners and evaluators a unique set of evaluation goals, measures and research methods to assess the impact of PLE, and considers the particular challenges of evaluating PLE projects and programmes.

The framework sets out, for the first time, a comprehensive vision of what it means to be legally capable in today’s world.  The evaluation framework divides the capabilities people need into four areas or domains.
  • Recognising and framing the legal dimensions of issues and situations
  • Finding out more about the legal dimensions of issues and situations
  • Dealing with law-related issues and situations
  • Engaging and influencing the world in which we live, by understanding the relationships between the law in our everyday lives and wider social issues and democratic processes.
Martin Jones, Director of Law for Life, said:

‘What does a legally capable person need to know and be able to do in order to navigate the hazards of modern life?  The evaluation framework takes a big step towards answering this question by setting out and detailing the four domains of legal capability.   It will help us set more precise targets for public legal education, and provides the means of evaluating whether we have achieved them.’

The Evaluation Framework was commissioned by the Public Legal Education Network (now Law for Life) from the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol. It was informed by the research evidence and input from international PLE experts including Dr Ab Currie, a member of the project steering group and principal researcher at the Department of Justice in Canada who said:

 ‘Experiencing legal problems is a very frequently occurring aspect of everyday life and, moreover, experiencing clusters of multiple problems is especially prevalent among disadvantaged groups. The concept of legal capability represents an important step forward in helping the public deal with this reality. Developing legal capability among the population will give people the knowledge and skills to assist them in self-managing problems and participating in the resolution of the legal problems that arise in their daily lives.’  

The Framework is accompanied by practical guidance on evaluating PLE.

Our thanks are given to the Ministry of Justice for funding this valuable research.

Read the full article

Public Legal Education Evaluation Framework
Legal capability: the four key domains for evaluation

December 2011.

60 second interview

Michael Smyth CBE is the inaugural chairman of Law for Life.  He was a former partner at Clifford Chance and has been a longstanding supporter of public legal education. Michael's top tip:

'My top tip for guaranteed success is that every PLE supporter commit to meeting one public agency a year to exhort them to devise one PLE programme relevant to that agency's area of operations. The growth curve of PLE should be exponential once we really get started.'

Read the full interview

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