Lacunas and solutions in the Indian Law Education system
What with the archaic regulations to impart legal education in India dating back to 1961 enactment of Advocates Act, it is now proving to be insufficient in the present times with social structure undergoing a sea change and population forever on the rise, writes Sheetal Banchariya in a TOI report.
It is only through law education that a student can pass five-year bachelor’s degree (LLB) in order to get designated as a lawyer and is allowed to practice, while the University Grants Commission is also offering a one-year LLM course.
Quality of Law Education in India
Senior lawyers and judges blame the quality of law education in India, which is largely theoretical. According to these experts, all through the five years, a law student never gets exposed to courtroom proceedings. The syllabus consists of bookish knowledge and most students remain unaware of the environment of the courtrooms, says the report.
Ansh Bhargava, Director, Taxmann is quoted as saying, “Keeping pace with the changing scenario is a must. Indian legal education system needs to undergo changes and syllabus needs to imbibe robustness in order to deliver proper legal solutions.” Students, as well as experts, find a humongous gap between what students are taught and what actually happens in the courts, says the report.
As lawyers deal with cases related to people, it is important for them to have soft skills. Being equipped with basic inter-personal, behavioural skills and strong communication is crucial. Looking at the increasing stress, and mental pressure, we need an army of lawyers with strong emotional intelligence to connect with people approaching the judiciary. It is important to be well-versed in writing presentation and negotiation skills, in order to stand out from the crowd.
“Life of a lawyer is largely dependent on communicating with people. However, this skill is not a part of the syllabus as no Law School ever stresses on working on one’s communication skills. Success in examinations is not just dependent on the legal language skills, Jyoti Sagar, Chairman and Founder, J Sagar Associates (JSA) at the Third Edition of the Law Round Table by University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES). As a result, several high-scoring law students who do not want to pursue litigation. Almost all firms have in-house legal, arbitration and research team, the report pointed out.
New Legal Syllabus
With changing times, the legal issues have undergone radical changes. Issues such as cross-border adoptions, divorces, human rights issues, multi-national business transactions have emerged as the most common legal conflicts, for which lawyers need to have a vast knowledge of domestic as well as international laws. “Foreign universities are now offering courses in diverse fields such as human rights, international humanitarian law, refugee law etc, but faculty in Indian law institutes do not have expertise in new-age issues, says Abhishek Rastogi, Partner, Khaitan, and Co.
Most Indian Law Schools still follow an old syllabus, which includes mandatory courses such as Constitutional Law, Family Law and Criminal Law along with optional courses including Comparative Law, Law of Insurance and Intellectual Property Law. It still has limited scope to deal with new-age legal cases, the report said.
Ethics and Values
Lawyers are not just a link between the judiciary and common public, but they are also seen as problem solvers. However, most of the lawyers get caught between being morally correct and greed to make money. Law is a noble profession with a strong value system and ethics. However, teaching right values to students is difficult, Justice Manju Goel, Former Judge of the Delhi High Court tells the daily.
Parroting Law Theories
“Most students are learning theories of law with no practical exposure. It is just like a driver reading a book on how to drive a car and never actually driving, said Tabrez Ahmed, Director, School of Law, UPES. The major activity of Law student gets reduced to mugging the laws during their courses and none of them ever get a chance to learn the tricks of practicing in the court. Students remain in a secure environment during college, and as soon as they enter the court, they get exposed to the harsh realities. The grind burns them out and within a few years of their job, many of them get exhausted and quit, said Madhavi Divan, advocate, Supreme Court.
Emphasising the need for practical training for aspiring lawyers, she said, Teachers need to more realistic and less flowery while teaching, says the report.
Women in Law
As per 2016 data by Lok Sabha and Ministry of Law and Justice, there were no more than 10% women in the high courts. A research by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy on the gender composition of Lower Indian Judiciary in February 2018, showed there only 27.6% of women judges, which only 4,409 females as compared to 11,397 male judges.
“The industry today is much better than when I started around thirty years ago when very few women were a part of the legal fraternity and lesser used to join the active litigation. Families themselves used to discourage women from being lawyers. The scenario has changed for the better, and women have created a space for themselves”, said Pinky Anand, Additional Solicitor General, Supreme Court of India.
However, the number of women lawyers and judges is still not enough to deal with increasing domestic courts and issues concerning women in the nation. The law is expanding and becoming more sensitive to women’s rights throughout the world. A female lawyer can understand her clients’ trouble and can help in getting her justice. We, definitely, need more women in this sector, added Anand.
Get the latest updates on Education – Register Today! It’s Free.