Free Legal Education
Free Legal Education, distinct from Legal awareness, is the provision of legal information free to the public at large which is comprehensive enough to give the public an access point to the law (as opposed to simply awareness). Queensland Lawyer, Andrew Bird is a pioneer in this space. He released the website Access Point Law in April 2013 which is demonstrative of the concept that is Free Legal Education. Two publications by Andrew Bird discuss the concept in further detail. They are: Access to Justice: An Australian Productivity Commission submission by Andrew Bird & Final Submission by Andrew Bird for Access to Justice Public Inquiry.
Basic Elements of Free Legal Education
The basic elements of Free Legal Education is the summarisation, classification and categorisation of the statute law. The model is further enhanced with directs links to electronic versions of the law, as passed by Parliament.
The delivery of the Free Legal Education would tend to be via electronic or virtual means as opposed to physical which would tend to be cost prohibitive. An online website or eBook would be the most effective method to provide free legal education (for example, Free Legal Rights Information, an eBook representative of Access Point Law, released in October 2015).
Education summaries coupled with links to regulators and organisations involved in a legal space provides additional information to the public thereby aiding and improving their access to the law. To provide a more interactive experience to the public, it is also possible to add links to legal textbooks, podcasts and other eBook publications. The website Access Point Law provides an image for each statute law to aid public education.
Interaction with the Legal System
The concept that is Free Legal Education, when freely implemented without controls and influence from Parliament and Executive, could be suggested to have benefits wider than just public education. Summaries can serve to highlight what is considered troublesome or noteworthy about a statute law from an outside perspective and this can lead to further refinement or elaboration of the law. The summary may prompt improved laws being passed by Parliament, and/or new or improved fact sheets and guidelines issued by the Executive. If the summary is provided by a person with legal training or qualification, there can be an offering of law assurance to the public and it is possible for the judicial arm of government (through its admitted officers) to actively monitor the excesses of parliament/executive but to do so in a non-confronting or non-binding way, akin to the media reporting on the state of the law.
- ”Access Point Law”, Free Legal Rights Information, March 20, 2016
- ”Access Point Law”, About, March 20, 2016
- ”Safe Sailing.com.au”, Publication: Access to Justice: An Australian Productivity Commission submission by Andrew Bird, April 25, 2014
- ”Safe Sailing.com.au”, Publication: Final Submission by Andrew Bird for Access to Justice Public Inquiry, June 18, 2014
- ”Safe Sailing.com.au”, Publication: Free Legal Rights Information, October 13, 2015