Hosting legal workshops or trainings prior to a protest or action is a useful way to empower activists. Such trainings can work well as a stand-alone event, or work well as part of a broader one-day or two-day direct action training.
Make sure your knowledge of the law is current and up-to-date. Never assume that the law hasn't changed and that old handouts or information are still current without confirming this is the case.
Make sure you have a clear and well-structured workshop outline. A workshop outline for legal trainings is available on this site Legal training for activists. The outline is designed to be easily adaptable to focus on what are the most relevant aspects of a particular campaign.
When it comes to disseminating skills that allow activists to be safe, more effective, and make informed decisions, role-plays are a highly effective training method.
Good activist legal training includes a series of brief role-plays, where trainers take the role of police officers and participants play the role of the activist. Trainers, make sure you always encourage participants to ‘shake off’ the roles they have adopted for the role play. It can be useful to reflect upon how participant’s felt taking on a particular role, what feelings they experienced and how their world view was shaped by the particular role they took on.
Each role-play is accompanied by a brief discussion, and a question and answer session, before moving on to the next role-play. The format keeps the audience's attention, and drives each lesson home.
A simple training can include 10 such role-plays in about two hours.
As a Legal Support Team or legal trainer you can expand your menu of role-plays to encompass an arrest at a protest, police attempts to intimidate activists into giving up their rights, and others. Police attempts to move a stall, police attempts to use bluff and threats when questioning an activist, police attempts to search an office or home.
It is important to work with activists and lawyers to make sure your information is authentic and accurate. The strength of activist legal trainings is that we can make a unique training for a group's specific needs without having to create an entirely new workshop.
Each group we train has different needs and experience levels so strive to tailor each training accordingly.
For various training role-play scenarios see Training for activists section.