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QUALITY OF LEGAL EDUCATION IN INDIA

Written by: Deep Kumar Mohanty and Silvy Sheetal, students, University Law College


Introduction:

I don’t feel stupid, just inadequate. After three years of studying the law, I’m very much aware of how little I know.

-John Grisham

A comprehensive study and knowledge about the laws and matters related to it are imperative to contribute to the progress of a nation. But, it is very important for the laws to be modified from time to time to meet the needs of changing society. Legal education is a tool to teach individuals about the theories, philosophies, and principles of law. Helping to scrutinize the various changes occurring in society and synchronizing the laws according to these changes. The fundamental objective of providing legal education is to supply such individuals, who are skilled within the application of laws and may apply these skills within the practice of advocacy, research in law.

1. Poor Infrastructure

A university is a misnomer, which runs under the aegis of their respective state governments. What ensues is a Sisyphean cycle of students launching protests, followed by assurances by the administration, ending in non-fulfillment of promises, and so on. Sometimes the government only has started these colleges and has failed to give any infrastructure to these colleges. That state governments open up Universities merely to satisfy their vote bank, gains ground. The Students of the University demand nothing beyond their due right, a University that gives a conducive environment for learning. Such issues affect the essential conditions within the University and make it difficult for the scholars to even attend classes regularly and comfortably, notwithstanding the very fact that a portion of the scholar population doesn't even have a place to live in. Apart from a couple of over 900 law schools within the country, the underdeveloped infrastructure is the main reason what hinders in a significant way. Access to online databases and journals and a fully functioning library with all the key books and more are a few of the facilities that are absolutely critical for holistic legal education. More than half of the law schools in the country do not have the said infrastructural facilities and more than that, proper classrooms in properly constructed buildings, yet another facet that is often ignored by the law schools which is contradictory to the high tuition fee that the authorities charge, as a result of that the primary level of learning is hampered to a great extent.

According to Legally India, “The Bar Council of India (BCI) affiliated 92 new law colleges in nine months last year, consistent with the law ministry’s 2014-2015 annual report, that number is almost double the number of latest colleges admitted within the entire 2012-13 year”.[1] These institutions are characterized as the "profit-making industry" it's to those crowded classes that the part-time lecturer imparts his instruction, and therefore the attendance he commands are only thanks to the anxiety of the pupil to possess his attendance marked when the lecturer calls the roll.

2. Outdated course & curriculum

Legal Education in the name of practical exposure has accredited students with theoretical study. Except for the duration of the courses, and the addition of some fundamental subjects, there has not been innovation in the legal education scenario during these years. Most law schools follow the old and traditional pedagogy of teaching making the institute lag behind when it comes to modern teaching techniques and pedagogy. By administrative inefficiencies, deteriorating quality of the teaching staff, the general sense of unreasonableness, and apathy towards the scholars for a few times now have hampered the students’ education. Projects submission to keep up with the trend that students must be given good marks which are mostly horribly copy-pasted plagiarized submissions. The justification is that this helps the students to get jobs and find LLM seats in foreign universities easily. Despite big grants and large talks, it fails to offer any meaningful continuing education. Moving on to the difficulty of curriculum, there exists a drag in terms of the curriculum formulated by BCI and not being implemented properly at the extent of universities. BCI has listed 21 compulsory papers and a hoard of optional papers, but the formulation of the syllabus is left to the universities which inevitably results in different and varied syllabi in the country but the law that is being practiced in the country is the same. As a consequence of that, there isn’t a minimum reliable standard of lawyers being produced within the country which creates a lopsided development of the law in India. The exam should ideally be designed to check the essential with a balanced proportion, but what finishes up happening is that the exam is sort of basic and easy which eventually stagnates the quality of ability to critically solve problems of the subject to only a superficial and a basic level.

· Internships:

Internships under lawyers, law firms, and various other organizations broaden the theoretical aspect and provide an entirely different understanding of the profession. Students are often confused between litigation and the corporate sphere and it's best resolved by doing internships in both the areas to urge a finer understanding of their decision vis-à-vis their potential. Legal Internships should be incorporated as important a part of academia because they assist to excel in their respective fields, for example, the different ways in which a lawyer participates in the process of adjudication: as an advocate, as a judge, and as office counselor advising his client "what the law is"-that is, how real or hypothetical cases would probably be decided if they were litigated. Lawyers and law firms essentially gamble by hiring student’s fresh out of law schools so to substantiate their gamble the student should accumulate skills and knowledge to understand how it works on the ground level and not just in textbooks

· Moot courts:

Moot court experience is important to supply practical experience to law students. Limitations of participation in moot courts leave some people too far behind the curve. Many colleges do not have a guided system for mentoring their moot court teams.

· Lack of Research Skill

Another issue in the legal education in India is the lack of researchers in law and the absence of due emphasis on research and publications in the existing law schools. Research can contribute significantly towards improvement in teaching and, more importantly, addressing numerous challenges concerning law and justice. In the world’s top law schools, he/ she will find that there is great emphasis on research and publications among academics. The bar exam results get worse every year. Legally India reports that “37% of these who took the All India bar exam in January 2012 failed it, and over 70% of retakers failed” and this number is getting worse every year despite the fact that the exam is an open book exam.[2] This paints quite a scary picture of the legal profession and every one of these will be traced back to accreditation of the universities and irregular inspections to stay a check on them.

3. Teachers

Teachers are held at the upmost stature in the minds of students when it comes to disseminating knowledge and guiding the flummoxed mind of a student. If teachers aren't taken care of or they're unable to successfully educate, the whole structure becomes flawed from the very beginning. It is the teacher’s responsibility to create an environment conducive for students to learn. Further, one can argue that there's ‘teacher crisis’ that's life because the number of individuals who would want to become an academician in the future is becoming fewer primarily because the remuneration offered to a law teacher isn't in the least satisfactory. Large numbers of the pupils serve in Government offices or elsewhere while attending the institutions and take the law course with a view to better their prospects in service by obtaining a law degree. On the opposite hand the teachers argue that the university and law schools don't provide the deserving incentives and remuneration and distinctions. If we attempt to quantify the tutorial standard of an educator solely by the years spent into becoming one, then law teachers have a further two or three years’ worth of experience and no matter that distinction, they're held at an equivalent stature as other teaching faculty which has an implication that means that those extra years are worth nothing and that they are all equivalent when it involves teaching. This particular attitude adopted by the universities disincentives the teachers. Hence, it is necessary to address certain specific areas of concern in small-town law colleges which have almost no full-time faculty, almost no effort at teaching, and little evidence of a desire for change.

4. Lack of analytical skill among students

It is found that the students do not take an initiative to teach each other much law either discussing informally or at any place of study. The general level of English ability is so low that the meaningful use of the case or discussion method in English isn't feasible. In part, this attests to the substantial nature of the issues already mentioned. The Constitution is written in English and proceedings in the High Courts and the Supreme Court are conducted in English. It is almost impossible for people to find out legal analysis during a language during which they will neither think nor express themselves.

5. Entrance Examination and Faulty Evaluation

The colleges only take the highest merit on board. Statistics say, only 3% of the law aspirants get into the universities proposed and implemented by Bar Council of India. Institutional lapses and inefficiencies fail to suits basic standards of transparency and therefore the norms underlying the RTI Act. Dutt v. Convener CLAT 2015 UG Exam., W.P (Lodging) No. 1784 of 2015 to set up an expert panel/committee to study the various objections to the erroneous questions and answer keys in the CLAT 2015 paper. CLAT exams also suffer from severe discrepancies in terms of allocation of seats, the release of merit lists, mal-administration, and inefficient management and serious policy inconsistencies, each of which has been detailed. Such, actions constitute a serious violation of the sacrosanct rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India to various prospective law students, including the right to guard against arbitrary actions of the state (under Article 14) and the right to education and other connected rights within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution.[3]


(1) Comparison between LSAT & CLAT

Arbitrary and inefficient implementation of the Common Law Admission Test. actions are an indirect, violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 and Article 21 to all students who sit for these exams, hoping to enter the hallowed halls of legal learning.[4] Not being able to constitute an expert committee in time, and there was no grievance redressal mechanism under the present CLAT structure. It is submitted that the CLAT committees, as well as the participating law colleges ’s, are well aware of the fact that given the short window between the announcement of CLAT results and final admissions at specialised law universities, the courts’ hands are tied, since it may not wish to disrupt admissions.


6. Role Of Bar Council of India

The Advocates Act 1981 marked a very significant development in the area of Legal Education by setting up the Bar council of India. Under the Act, the Bar Council enjoys very significant functions in relation to legal education. Under Section 7 CW of the Advocates Act, one of the most important functions of the Bar Council of India is to promote legal education and to lay down standards of such education in consultation with the Universities in India and the State Bar Councils. Under Section 7 (i), the Bar Council of India is also empowered to recognize Universities whose degree in law shall be a qualification for enrolment as an advocate and for that purpose to visit and inspect universities. Section 49 (d) empowers Bar Council to make rules prescribing, the standards of legal education to be observed by Universities for that purpose. The Advocate Act thus conferred regulatory powers on the Bar Council of India vis-a-vis the Legal Education. The Bar Council has thus got powerful leverage in its hands to influence the quality, content, and standards of legal education in the country. The Bar council exercises its influence on legal education from a vocational point of view because only such law degrees as are recognized by the Bar Council shall be a sufficient qualification for admission to the profession. The Bar Council has used its power and prescribed the subjects of study which a L.L.B course must contain, some of their subjects are elective and some are compulsory. Thus the Bar Council of India is playing a very important role in imparting quality legal education.


7. DPSP and Legal Education

In a democratic polity, to possess a correct system governed by rule of law, should be the major concern of the State. Article 39 A mandates that the State shall provide free legal aid by suitable legislation and ensure that opportunities for securing justice aren't denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. The above words occurring in Article 39A are of very wide importance. Legal aid is required in many forms and at various stages, for obtaining guidance, for resolving disputes in courts, tribunals, or other authorities. It has manifold facets.[5] The need for a continuing and well organized legal education, is absolutely essential reckoning the new trends in the world order, to meet the ever-growing challenges. The legal education should be ready to meet the ever-growing demands of the society and will be thoroughly equipped to cater to the complexities of various situations. Specialization in several branches of the law is important. The requirement is of such an excellent dimension, that sizeable or vast number of dedicated persons should be properly trained in several branches of law, per annum by providing or rendering competent and proper legal education. This is possible as long as an adequate number of law colleges with proper infrastructure including expertise law teachers and staff are established to affect things in an appropriate manner. It cannot admit of doubt that, lately there's a fall within the standard of legal education.

Recommendations

1. The curriculum should be so arranged as to give the student that understanding in such broad terms that he will be able to perceive and relate to one another the various facets of the lawyer's work.

2. All the institutions which impart legal education in the country should be severed from their current universities and be permitted to function as academically autonomous institutions, with a governing council of its own, constituted by the teaching the staff of the institutions and such other members as the respective State Governments decide. The financial control can vest either within the respective government of autonomous bodies, as appropriate, but there should be a representative of government also as state Bar Council within the administration of every legal education institution.

3. The faculty should study carefully what branches of law are most important today and arrange the curriculum so as to impart the knowledge most needed.

5. The Indian LLB 3-year program must be made more rigorous and full-time On par with the JD or Juris Doctor program of American and Canadian law schools,

6. The Bar Council of India must consider establishing the National Council for Legal Education & Research, with adequate representation from all stakeholders in legal education and the legal profession. The council should have all stakeholders, including legal academia, judges, lawyers from both the litigating and company bar and also academics from humanities and social sciences.[6]

7. Institutions should include “call for papers” in the curriculum which promotes legal writing on various contemporary or discussed issues, in order to be able to evaluate a student’s understanding of recent issues related to the legal working and its processes.

8. An enhanced focus on professional exposure through internships and engaging in the law student’s learning in his/her internships is very important.

9. Regular debates and moot courts should be included in the course curriculum as it brings proficiency and demonstrates the way of argumentation, which is an essential quality of a lawyer.

10. The law universities should arrange for guest lectures by eminent legal luminaries in the legal field as it accelerates the motivation of scholars and helps them to be aware of the hard realities of law.

11. All law schools should have substantial infrastructure consisting of sufficient classrooms, moot court halls and a well-equipped library containing access to vital legal databases all over the world.


Conclusion:

Ideally all law colleges must be accredited as this is able to change consistent inspections of the standard of the academia, infrastructural facilities and therefore the treatment and conduct of scholars’ vis-à-vis the college. National Knowledge Commission (NKC) in its report has argued that law institutions are far from desired standards. It has argued for a system that classifies colleges on the idea of facilities, courses, subjects, faculty, infrastructure, etc. and for termination of law schools with below-average standards.[7] BCI has, within the 2008 rules on legal education, provided for an accreditation system/performance scoring system by its Legal Education Committee on a voluntary basis. Improvement of legal education is sort of intricately related to BCI and its efforts. Hence, it is concluded that the whole system encapsulating legal education needs an overhaul and a scientific transformation of the teaching faculty, the curriculum, the infrastructure, and therefore the management of new law schools. To cope up with the long run necessities it’s necessary to facilitate quality legal education and values so the students are in a position to adapt, learn and provide back to the community thereby maintaining and raising the standards at the same time. References


[1] Chairman, Bar Council of India, Reform of Legal Education in India, http://www.barcouncilofindia.org/wpcontent/uploads/2010/07/LegalEducationReformRecommendations.pdf.

[2] Kian Ganz, CLAT: A filter that needs replacing [via Mint] #longread, (Tuesday, 16 June 2015 19:04), https://www.legallyindia.com/pre-law/clat-replacing-the-filter-20150616-6128.

[3] Entry to NLUs: SC to examine plea alleging flaws in CLAT, ( Sep 04, 2015, 06.04 PM), https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/entry-to-nlus-sc-to-examine-plea-alleging-flaws-in-clat/articleshow/48812208.cms?from=mdr.

[4] Apratim Chatterjee, CLAT may get a permanent body; Shamnad Basheer files PIL in SC, (Aug 31, 2015 - 6:41 p.m), https://law.careers360.com/news/clat-may-get-permanent-body-shamnad-basheer-files-pil-in-sc-120923

[5] Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 (India): A Commentary

[6] Bajpaimeghna, Legal Education System in India, http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-199-legal-education-system-in-india.html

[7] Reform of Legal Education in India; by BCI; http://www.barcouncilofindia.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/LegalEducationReformRecommendations.pdf.

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