Pete Smith

Pete Smith

What are the factors affecting legal academics' involvement in public legal education?


Discipline/professional area

Outline of research project

Changes to the legal aid system have led to an increase in the number of people appearing in court without legal representation. Concern has been expressed over the impact of such litigants in person (LiPs) on the courts, as well as the effect lack of representation has on LiPs. Public legal education (PLE) is one possible answer to these challenges. PLE aims to provide lay people with an understanding of the law, legal systems, and how people can make use of the law. Whilst there a number of PLE projects, some involving universities, PLE provision is patchy both in terms of law covered and locations served. My research aims to understand what institutional and individual factors affect the involvement of legal academics in providing public legal education. I will interview a range of legal academics and look at the literature on higher education policy and legal education.

Key references

Becher T, Academic Tribes and Territories Intellectual Enquiry and the Culture of Disciplines (2nd edn, Open University Press 2001)

Bourdieu P, Homo Academicus (Polity 1987)

Collini S, Speaking of Universities (Verso 2017)

Fabian Society, ‘The Right to Justice : The Final Report of the Bach Commission’ (2017)

PLEAS Task Force, ‘Developing Capable Citizens: The Role of Public Legal Education’ (PLEAS Task Force 2007)

Director of studies
Dr James Marson

Dr Catherine Morse

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