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Essentials of Law-Related Education

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1995
16 pages
Based on a consensus of over 200 members of the law-related education (LRE) community, this report presents essentials of LRE in 4 areas: concepts and subject matter; attitudes, beliefs, and values; skills; and instructional practices and contexts.
LRE has been defined as "education to equip nonlawyers with knowledge and skill pertaining to the law, the legal process, and the legal system, and the fundamental principles and values on which these are based." Regarding essential subject matter, LRE should address law, justice, power, equality, property, and liberty. In LRE, these abstract concepts are interpreted within the experiences of students and contemporary issues and conflicts in American society. Regarding the essentials of how and where LRE should be taught, it should have the status of a regular school course presented in a classroom as part of the social studies curriculum; however, it can have relevance for a variety of school study curricula. The teaching methods used should enable students to identify fundamental values in conflict and emphasize analytical skills involved in testing the bases and logic of arguments on an issue. LRE educators should help students develop the skills needed to acquire information about the role of law in constitutional democracies and other types of societies, along with how law impacts their lives; how they can communicate their ideas, beliefs, and opinions about the law and legal issues; and how they can actively and constructively participate in civic affairs. The essential attitudes, beliefs, and values that should emerge in LRE students are a commitment to constitutional democracy; dedication to the ideal of justice; informed, active, and responsible participation in civic life; respect for the dignity and rights of others; and appreciation for resolving societal conflicts and differences through legal means. 23 selected annotated resources