Legal Literacy: What It Is & Why It Matters

This article was originally published on April 26, 2017 with Exposure Magazine, where Devika L. Carr is a contributing writer.

The climate of our society isn’t just changing because Mother Nature is sending out warning signs. In fact, some could analogize the need for global warming initiatives and education to the need for improved legal literacy everywhere.

The recent years of media coverage have not denied attention to criminal law issues but most have focused on bringing awareness to perceived conflicts between law enforcement and civilians. How many times have you read or watched a media clip about the fallen lives of civilian suspects or persons of interest with only a moment’s notice to consider what their side of the story would have been had they not died during confrontational situations with police? Or how many times have you been asked to remember blue lives matter too?

This article is not encouraging you to choose the side of law enforcement or the shades of human beings. In fact, this article isn’t just about criminal law. This article represents the greater need for you and the community members around you to become more knowledgeable about what truly matters: legal literacy.

Laws are written differently across state lines but remain consistently beneficial in one respect: the basic understanding of their principles and the situations to which they apply can immediately increase awareness, decrease adversarial misunderstandings, and promote competency everywhere.

Legal literacy is the ability to be knowledgeable about legal issues effecting the society we live in today and the potential effects legal issues may have on the achievements of future builders.

So what would it take for you to achieve legal literacy? At minimum, the effort to connect with people who are vested in providing free access to critical examples of injustices, how to spot them, how to avoid them, how to overcome them, and equal access to legal rules that every person should know as if it were a course provided in an elementary textbook.

So why should you even invest any time or effort into achieving it? Simply, legal literacy matters because a lack of understanding has created and will continue to foster tensions between different groups of people in a climate consistently plagued by racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic confusion. I think many would agree that discourse won’t help us move forward in raising strong families, building better businesses, connecting with more community members, and pressing towards progress for social improvements that effect the masses.

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