Standards for PLE

May 10, 2007

In August 2006, the American Bar Association issued a big document titled Standards for the Provision of Civil Legal Aid [1.5 MB PDF]. The new Standards are a full replacement for an older standards document first adopted in 1986. One of the significant revisions is a major overhaul of the section on public legal education and information.

Although the standards and their commentary are tailored for civil legal aid providers in the U.S., they could be directly applied to Canadian PLE efforts.

Here are highlights:

  • Responsibilities of the provider
    • Accurate information: providers “must use reasonable care that the information given is accurate.”
    • Accessible materials: providers should “make certain that legal information materials can be understood by the intended users” and “should also be sensitive to culture mores of the various low income populations” that they serve.
    • Protection of information from disclosure: providers should recognize that information people divulge in obtaining legal education and information can be “personal and may involve sensitive matters”; thus, providers “should take care not to disclose it to others, except for a legitimate purpose” and “should organize … operations so that to the degree possible, personal disclosures cannot be heard by others.”
    • Evaluation: providers “should periodically assess whether [their] legal education efforts are succeeding in conveying the information intended and whether persons who receive it are able to act on the information imparted.”

The full commentary to this standard (Standard 3.6 “on the provision of legal information”) has a whole bunch of other relevant material, including much more on provider responsibilities, a section on legal advice versus legal information versus legal education, a collection of rationales for PLE, and a discussion on when PLE is appropriate in light of unmet need for direct representation. Plus, other standards include 2.4 (“Cultural Competence”), 3.5 (“Assistance to Pro Se Litigants”), and 4.6 (“Communication in the Primary Languages of Persons Served”).

Should Canadian PLE providers, perhaps through PLEAC or perhaps in coordination with other access to justice players in Canada, develop a set of standards for PLE in this country? If so, what would be different from the ABA’s standards? What could be added?

2 Responses to “Standards for PLE”

  1. […] best practices for PLE websites May 18th, 2007 My recent post of highlights from the American Bar Association’s standards for PLEI in legal aid has quickly […]

  2. […] help from health educationTen best practices for PLE websites « PLE / Canada / Fulbright on Standards for PLEPat Pitsula on How PLEI will change the worldJonas Kiedrowski on Law-related […]

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