Posted on Monday, August 20, 2018
Regulations to impart legal education in India were framed way back with the enactment of Advocates Act, 1961. These regulations, however are proving to be insufficient in contemporary times with social structure undergoing a drastic change and population being on a rise.
It is only through law education that a student can pass five-years bachelor’s degree LLB to get designated as ‘lawyer’ and is allowed to practice and carry forward court activities. UGC also offers one-year master’s LLM course.
Senior lawyers and judges blame the quality of law education in India that is largely theoretical. All through the five-years, a law student is never exposed to the courtroom proceedings. The syllabus consists of bookish knowledge and most students remain unaware of the environment of the courtroom and complications of legal proceedings.
"Keeping pace with the changing scenario is a must. Indian legal education system needs to undergo changes and the syllabus needs to imbibe robustness in order to deliver proper legal solutions,” said Ansh Bhargava, Director, Taxmann. Students and experts find a huge gap between what students are taught in Law schools and what actually happens in the courts.
As the lawyers deal with cases related to human beings, it is important for them to have strong soft skills. Being equipped with basic interpersonal, behavioural skills and strong communication is crucial. Looking at the increasing stress, and mental pressure in the society, 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, presentations, research and negotiation skills, to stand out in 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 exams are not just dependent on the legal language skills,” said Jyoti Sagar, chairman and founder, J Sagar Associates (JSA) at the 3rd edition of Law Round Table by University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES), Dehradun.
As a result of which, several high-scoring law student fail while practicing in the court. There are various other opportunities for students who do not want to pursue litigation. Almost all companies have their in-house legal, arbitration and research team.
NEW LEGAL SYLLABUS
With changing time, the legal issues have undergone sea changes. Issues such as cross-border adoptions, divorces, human rights issues, multi-national business transactions, hacking, bank frauds have emerged as most common legal conflicts, for which lawyers need to have vast knowledge domestic as well as international laws.
“Foreign universities are now offering courses in diverse fields such as human rights, international humanitarian law, refugee law, international trade and business law, information technology law etc. but faculty in Indian law institutes do not have expertise in the new-age issues,” said Abhishek Rastogi, partner, Khaitan and Co.
Most Indian Law schools still have an old syllabus which includes mandatory courses like Constitutional Law, Family Law and Criminal Law along with optional courses such as Comparative Law, Law of Insurance, Conflict of Laws and Intellectual Property Law. It still has limited scope to deal with new-age legal cases.
ETHICS AND VALUES
Lawyers are not just a link between judiciary and the 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 strong value system and ethics. However, teaching right values to the students is practically difficult and is still a major challenge,” said Justice Manju Goel, former judge, Delhi High Court.
PARROTING LAW THEORIES
“Most students learning the theories of law with no practical exposure. It is just like a driver reading a book ‘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 degree courses and none of them ever get a chance to learn the tricks of practicing the court. “This proves to be a setback in the long run,” added Ahmed.
“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 the aspiring lawyers, she said, “Teachers need to be more realistic and less flowery while teaching.” added Divan.
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 gender composition of Lower Indian judiciary in February 2018, showed there only 27.6% of women judges, which is only 4,409 females as compared to 11,397 male judges.
“The industry today is much better than when I started around 30 years ago when very few women were a part of the legal fraternity, and lesser used to join active litigation. Families themselves used to discourage women from being lawyers. The scenario has changed for 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. Female lawyer can understand her client’s trouble and can help in getting her justice. We, definitely, need more women in this sector,” added Anand.
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