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The People’s Law School now solely online

The People's Law School has shifted to online classes only. | Delaney Ramirez/The Cougar

The People’s Law School has shifted to online classes only. | Delaney Ramirez/The Cougar

The free public legal education program The People’s Law School after nearly 30 years on campus at the UH Law Center will stop holding face-to-face classes as it makes the transition to online content.

The last in-person session was held on Saturday. The People’s Law School shifted to the web because of decreased attendance and making the program more accessible, according to Richard Alderman, director of the UH Center for Consumer Law and founder of The People’s Law School.

“I think this generation and the next generations would prefer not to spend a Saturday morning attending classes and instead be able to access the information they need at any time,” Alderman said.

Alderman, also known as The People’s Lawyer, has been offering law classes to the community since the founding of The People’s Law School in 1991. The 14 classes offered are taught by local attorneys, judges and professors, and include topics such as consumer law, landlord and tenant law, and wills, all aiming to help attendees learn how to navigate legal issues in their lives.

More than 50,000 people have attended classes at the education program, which seeks to make understanding the legal system easier for those without the specialized knowledge of a lawyer.

Alderman said his work with the program, where he has spread legal information through TV, radio and newspaper columns, was inspired by research studies he’d done that revealed how many people didn’t know the law or what rights they have.

“A lot of people think they can only get information about law by paying for a lawyer,” Alderman said. “That doesn’t have to be the case. This information is for everyone.”

The material offered online by The People’s Law School will still be free and will be composed of two to four short videos for each legal topic covered.

Although publishing the legal information offered through The People’s Law School online will mean potential learners no longer have to make a physical trip to get educated about the law, some participants said they would rather go to classes in person.

“It would be easier face-to-face, at least for this age group,” said second-time attendee Jacquelyn Ward, referring to the older adults in attendance.

Face-to-face classes offer the opportunity to speak to instructors, which program participants see as a major benefit. In the moments before and after the conclusion of the three class slots, learners lined up to ask the lawyers and professors leading the lessons more-in depth questions about the laws covered.

Alderman assured that he will still be able to answer questions from curious website visitors. Whether distributing information online or in-person, Alderman said his mission is to help people become aware of their rights.

“It’s trite, but knowledge is power,” said Alderman.

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