CLEO’s research work

Did you know?

In addition to conducting research, CLEO monitors others' research from Canadian and other jurisdictions on public legal education and information and access to justice. We add research reports to our research database on a regular basis.

Shifting the Paradigm

CLEO’s report, Shifting the Paradigm, has now been posted by the Department of Justice Canada, in English and French. The report provides a review of recent developments in regulatory action and program activity aimed at improving access to justice through assistance provided by nonlawyers in community-based not-for-profit settings.

Supporting community justice help

CLEO is exploring approaches to support "community justice help" - enabling community workers in the nonprofit sector to give help to people who come to them with life-affecting problems that include a legal element. Our research proposes a framework that discusses three dimensions of high-quality community justice help. For more information, visit our Supporting community justice help page.

Reducing the complexity of court forms

CLEO's new paper, Family Law Guided Pathways: Reducing the Complexity of Court Forms, reports on our review of the Guided Pathways to make them easier to use and understand. The pathways are online tools that help people fill out court forms. The complexity of court forms is a major barrier to access to justice for people who are not represented by a lawyer.

Our other current research work

CLEO currently has four other research projects underway:

This multi-year research project, implemented with case studies in Ontario and British Columbia, looks at when public legal education and information programs are effective and provide individuals meaningful access to justice, particularly people who are low income or have other disadvantages. For more information, visit our Evolving Legal Services Research page.

CLEO is developing an evaluation framework for interactive tools that support people who are going online to complete court forms and other law-related forms.

CLEO is leading a project to explore the regulation of smart legal forms designed for use by the public. Working closely with staff and students at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, CLEO is looking at what we can learn from the literature and experience in other jurisdictions in response to a very timely question: what regulatory treatment would best advance access to justice?

CLEO is working with professors at the University of Ottawa and Western University to investigate whether people in Ontario who are accessing “smart” legal forms are able to understand what they need to do in response. This research uses a functional literacy, user-based approach.

Our past research

CLEO delivered this paper to the Special Lectures Program of the Law Society of Ontario in November, 2019. Referencing CLEO’s Family Law Guided Pathways, the report describes CLEO's approach to developing direct-to-public automated legal tools to help people complete and file family court forms.

CLEO looked at the legal information needs of adult prisoners and ex-prisoners in Ontario who need information to help them with their legal problems, and interviewed 38 informants across Ontario who work with incarcerated people directly. Read our working paper.

This research work built upon CLEO’s reports prepared in 2016 for the Canadian Bar Association on how legal capability or “legal life skills” training could be incorporated into existing life skills programs in Ontario. CLEO developed a "legal life skills curriculum" with input from adult instructors, and piloted them through several job-readiness literacy training programs across Ontario.

CLEO developed a working legal capability framework for the Ontario context, drawing on our online scan of legal capability research and on previous research linking health literacy and legal capability. The framework gives an overview of the knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics and circumstances an Ontarian would need to deal with legal problems effectively at various stages, and addresses common barriers marginalized people face when trying to deal with legal problems.

This report provides an overview of research on legal capability in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

This mapping report provides an overview of PLEI resources available in Ontario, through the lens of topic and subtopic, as well as audience, format, language, intended use, and information provider.

This report provides an overview of health literacy information practices in Ontario to give PLE organizations and related stakeholders information about effective health information practices that can be adapted to improve the accessibility, usefulness, and reach of public legal education and information. Read the full report or our executive summary.

Public Legal Education and Information in Ontario Communities: Formats and Delivery Channels (2013)

We conducted this research to assess the effectiveness of formats and delivery channels in reaching diverse audiences in Ontario.

This report follows up on CLEO's Linguistic Access Report (2005), with updated information on the pressing legal needs of linguistic communities and factors impacting their access to information.

This report outlines CLEO’s vision for a collaborative Ontario PLE website targeting low-income populations that would provide online legal information, legal education and training primarily for community workers and also community based legal and other referrals

This report discusses themes related to the effective use of self-help family law materials by low income and marginalized communities, and next steps. The report findings resulted from a "think tank" hosted by CLEO in 2008.

This report discusses the most effective PLEI methods for Aboriginal audiences, the role of Aboriginal languages in access to legal information, the legal issues identified based on feedback from respondents, and the appropriate role for CLEO as a non-Aboriginal agency in developing and providing PLEI for Aboriginal audiences.

This report suggests steps CLEO can take to help meet the public legal education needs of low-income communities in Ontario who do not speak French or English.

This transcript of a 2005 CLEO conference on PLE delivery and evaluation includes an outline of the concepts underlying PLE, provides answers to frequently asked questions PLE agencies often ask when developing PLE resources and examines relevant factors in PLE evaluation.