In 2008, the Public Legal Education Network (Plenet) commissioned Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS) to carry out an exploratory study on young people’s legal capability. Plenet wanted to investigate the need for public legal education (PLE) amongst various groups of young people, and to gain an insight into the nature of their legal capability. This research also aimed to achieve a better understanding of the components of legal capability in order to develop a conceptual model that could provide the basis for a future baseline survey of the levels and types of legal capability in the wider population.
Plenet sought to work with IARS due to its experience in working with marginalised and disadvantaged young people. IARS’ youth-led philosophy and methodology offered an opportunity to ensure that the project engaged young people at all levels, from research design through to reporting.
The project sought to conceptually emulate the approach taken with the associated field of financial capability. That research started by exploring people’s capability through the three elements of knowledge, skills and attitudes. This project used a similar approach.