Law Day: Empower Patrons with Gale LegalForms

6 min read

“In a democracy, the highest office is the office of citizen.”

– Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter

| By Gale Staff |

May 1, 2024, marks the 66th anniversary of Law Day, a holiday proposed by American Bar Association (ABA) President Charles S. Ryne to celebrate the rule of law as the bedrock of our nation. It serves as a reminder that our legal system exists to protect liberties, achieve justice, and maintain our freedoms.

In addition to hosting its own educational programs, the ABA looks to state and local programs—including public libraries—to share the spirit of the holiday with their communities. Librarians can use the resources available through Gale LegalForms to spark a conversation while providing patrons with access to cost- and time-saving legal documentation and other resources.

Each year, the ABA chooses a theme for Law Day reflecting the most pressing legal and societal issues of the time. These have ranged from 1969’s theme “Justice and Equality Depend on Law and YOU!” to 2023’s theme of “Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility, and Collaboration.”

For 2024, the ABA chose “Voices of Democracy” in recognition of the United States holding its 60th presidential election. They explained that “ . . . in democracies, the people rule. For nearly 250 years, Americans have expressed their political views and wishes by speaking their minds and voting in elections.”

Democracy only works when the people participate, but there are barriers. While voter participation has increased in recent years, 35% of eligible voters sat out the most recent presidential election.

In 2020, pollsters surveyed a group of non-voters to ask why they rarely or never vote. The responses reflected a sense of isolation from the democratic process, such as:

  • 32% reported that “No matter who wins, nothing will change for people like me.”
  • 22% reported that “The system is too broken to be fixed by voting.”
  • 12% reported that “Because of where I live, my vote doesn’t matter.”
  • 11% reported that “Nobody talks about the issues that are important to me.”

While many people might feel their voice doesn’t matter in elections, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. Let’s take a look at how you can organize events in your library to highlight the importance of this civic duty.

Libraries can bring both general and community-specific programming to their patrons in honor of Law Day’s 2024 theme, “Voices of Democracy.” Here are a few ideas to get you thinking.

One key to reversing the current lack of voter turnout is engaging children in the democratic process so that, by the time they reach voting age, they feel confident in their role as citizens. Curated picture book displays and story times can introduce concepts like law, justice, and democracy at a developmentally appropriate level.

When we think about politics, many of us automatically think about the presidential election every four years: the town halls, televised debates, and SNL spoofs. But some of the most important political decision-making happens on a much smaller, far less visible level in our own communities.

Consider inviting civic leaders to an open panel discussion to talk about local politics, including things like ballot proposals used to fund parks, schools, and—of course—libraries. These initiatives get far less air time compared with the presidential race, but the community impact can be enormous.

If you’re not familiar with the process, voting can seem intimidating. To complicate things, each state has its own set of rules around voter registration, ID, and eligibility. In some states, people with felony convictions are ineligible to vote and can even face further legal trouble if they attempt to do so.

To demystify the process, provide information on questions about the registration process, absentee voting, and eligibility. By doing so, you’re breaking down barriers that might otherwise prevent people from getting involved in the electoral process. Consider partnering with non-partisan organizations like the League of Women Voters to ensure that you’re providing accurate and up-to-date information.

Voting is a serious responsibility, but lightening the mood with a fun raffle is a great way to celebrate voter participation. Invite your patrons to show off their “I Voted” stickers on Election Day to enter for a chance to win library swag, books written by local authors, or gift cards to area businesses.

Beyond this year’s election-centered theme for Law Day, there is a multitude of legal questions your patrons may have. To engage these often-complicated topics, Gale LegalForms empowers your community by detailing common legal procedures and providing access to thousands of customizable legal document templates.

This comprehensive library makes legal proceedings more transparent and approachable for everyone, regardless of their knowledge or experience. Thus, they save considerable time and money by avoiding the attorney fees required for basic document preparation.

The collection includes content for general patrons and specialized documents for small business owners. These documents are the same ones that an attorney would use, and we continually update the platform to ensure that they reflect the latest changes at both a state and federal level. This collection includes more than 25,000 Spanish-language legal forms ensuring the Hispanic community has access to help address common legal activities and procedures with accurate and reliable information.

Examples of available documents include:

  • Wills and estates for every type of individual, like those with or without children and married or not.
  • Real estate purchasing agreements, closing documents, inspections, and landlord-tenant agreements.
  • Civil actions and support for civil cases, including fraud, defamation, malpractice, and more.
  • Contracts, licensing, and agreements regarding family law, asset management, divorce, bankruptcy, and more.
  • Legal information on copyright, patent, and trademark applications, as well as letters and notices for a variety of other topics.
  • Contracts, licensing, and agreements for vendor and customer contracts, business licensing, and technology-focused contracts.

To ensure that your patrons can access and successfully use these forms, we’ve also built in the necessary tools to help users confidently handle common legal tasks independently. Each form includes detailed instructions on its purposes and requirements, as well as legal definitions to help break down legalese into layperson’s terms.

Patrons interested in going more in-depth can also access:

  • An attorney directory of area lawyers who offer competitive pricing.
  • A legal Q&A to learn more about the most commonly requested topics in easy-to-understand language.
  • The Law Digest and LegalLife® articles for insights into current events in law and the government.
  • Helpful resources and links to encourage further exploration of their civil rights and responsibilities.

Gale also offers an extensive support library to help librarians introduce and encourage the use of LegalForms through bookmarks, flyers, social media posts, web banners, and more. These are available in both English and Spanish.

You can reach out directly to your Gale education consultant to learn more about Gale LegalForms.

Leave a Comment