What is Legal education? What is the quality of legal education in India? What are the aims and objectives of legal education in India? The challenges associated with legal education? Read further to know more.
In contemporary developing societies, which are vying to become social welfare states and are attempting to improve the socio-economic condition of the populace through peaceful means, the concepts of law, legal education, and development have come to be intertwined.
The same is valid in our nation. In a developing nation, it is essential for legal education to produce lawyers who have a social conscience.
For anyone involved in administration, trade, or industry, having a basic understanding of the law has become essential.
What is legal education?
According to the Indian Law Commission, “Legal education is a science that imparts to students knowledge of specific principles and legal provisions to enable them to enter the legal profession.” Producing lawyers with a social conscience is the primary goal of legal education. But in the modern era, legal education ought to be seen as a tool for social design as well as a means of producing lawyers.
The legal profession is a noble calling, and its members enjoy a very high status, according to Justice Krishna Iyer. Every society is built on the rule of law, which also produces law-abiding citizens, lawyers, academics, and future judges. In India, legal education refers to the training that lawyers receive before they start practising.
According to historical accounts, teachings about dharma and Nyaya were given to kings and princes during the ancient era. Then, during the Mughal period, the idea of legal representatives emerged. Due to the fact that many of our freedom fighters had legal backgrounds, legal education existed even before India gained its independence. However, it wasn’t until after independence that it became significant.
Some traditional universities offer three-year law programmes, but these can only be continued after receiving a degree. Later, the establishment of the National Law University in Bangalore and the introduction of five-year law programmes increased the popularity of legal education in the twenty-first century.
There are currently 1200 law colleges in India, including public and private universities, and about 21 national law universities. This article discusses how the Indian Bar Council controls legal education in India.
Legal education should not only produce lawyers but should be regarded as a legal instrument for social design. The main aims of legal education are as follows:
- To train students for the legal profession;
- To educate the students to solve the individual client’s problems as well as to solve the society’s problems in which he lives;
- To provide a centre where scholars might contribute to the understanding of the law and participate in their growth and improvement;
- To inculcate students with operative legal rules and to provide them adequate experience to apply these rules;
- To point the right road for future development.
Thus, legal education should aim at furnishing skills and competence, for the creation and maintenance of a just society.
What is the Quality of Legal education in India?
The quality of legal education in India varies greatly among institutions. Some law schools in India are considered to be of very high quality, offering excellent resources and well-trained faculty, while others may have fewer resources and less qualified faculty.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Bar Council of India (BCI) are the two main regulatory bodies responsible for maintaining the quality of legal education in India. However, the quality of legal education in India has been a matter of concern for a long time, with issues such as inadequate infrastructure, lack of qualified faculty, and poor quality of teaching cited as major problems.
The UGC and the BCI have made efforts to improve the quality of legal education, such as setting standards for accreditation and curriculum and providing funding for legal education institutions. However, these efforts have not been able to address all the issues related to the quality of legal education in India.
In recent times, the legal education system has been facing challenges such as a lack of practical training and exposure, inadequate research, and a lack of focus on the needs of the legal profession.
Overall, while there are some high-quality legal education institutions in India, the overall quality of legal education in India is considered to be inadequate by many experts and practitioners.
Objectives of legal education
The objectives of legal education may be multi-fold in a developing democratic country like India. They are,
- To develop research of value to education and society with the use of educational facilities.
- Provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the legal system: This includes teaching students about the sources of law, the structure of the legal system, and the processes of legal reasoning and decision-making.
- To generate different kinds of skills and knowledge needed for tasks in society.
- Develop students’ legal research, writing, and advocacy skills: Legal education aims to teach students how to research and analyze legal issues, how to communicate effectively in legal contexts, and how to present legal arguments in writing and in court.
- Encourage critical thinking and ethical behaviour: Legal education aims to teach students how to think critically about legal issues, how to consider the implications of different legal decisions, and how to conduct themselves ethically as lawyers.
- Prepare students for the legal profession: Legal education aims to prepare students for the legal profession by providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to practice law and pass the bar exam.
- To broaden opportunity and mobility in society– notably among groups who may have been deprived.
- Foster civic responsibility and public service: Legal education can also aim to foster civic responsibility and public service by encouraging students to use their legal knowledge and skills for the benefit of their communities.
- Provide a global perspective: Legal education can aim to provide a global perspective on the law by exposing students to different legal systems and cultures, and by encouraging them to think about the role of law in an increasingly interconnected world.
- Promote innovation and research: Legal education can aim to promote innovation and research by encouraging students to think about new ways of approaching legal issues, and by fostering an environment of scholarly inquiry.
- To develop perceptions and to understand the problems of one’s society and to influence values and attitudes.
- Encourage diversity and inclusion: Legal education can aim to encourage diversity and inclusion by providing opportunities for students from different backgrounds to study and learn together, and by promoting an understanding of the perspectives and experiences of different groups.
Importance of legal education
The concept of legal education is broad. It encompasses the profession that is exercised in a court of law, as well as administration in various fields where the law is essential. It promotes equality before the law.
- Providing the foundation for the legal profession: Legal education provides the foundation for the legal profession by teaching the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for the practice of law.
- Ensuring access to justice: Legal education is essential for ensuring access to justice, as it trains the individuals who will provide legal services and represent clients in court.
- Promoting the rule of law: Legal education plays a crucial role in promoting the rule of law, by educating individuals about the legal system and their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
- Facilitating economic and social development: Legal education is important for facilitating economic and social development, as it enables individuals to understand and navigate the legal system and to participate in creating laws and policies.
- Encouraging critical thinking: Legal education encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for analyzing complex legal issues and making informed decisions.
- Providing a vehicle for social change: Legal education can be a vehicle for social change, by training individuals to advocate for marginalized groups and to work towards a more just society.
- Encouraging professionalism and ethical behaviour: Legal education promotes professionalism and ethical behaviour among lawyers, which is important for maintaining the integrity of the legal profession and ensuring that justice is served.
- Fostering global understanding: Legal education can foster global understanding by exposing students to different legal systems and cultures, and by encouraging them to think about the role of law in an increasingly interconnected world.
The calibre and standard of the legal education received at law school are reflected in the bar and bench. If one is aware of state affairs, one is better equipped to understand the law. In a democratic society, the value of legal education cannot be overstated.
Everyone has a responsibility to be aware of the law. Law-related ignorance is not an excuse. As a result, legal education not only creates influential lawyers but also law-abiding citizens with respect for human rights.
Factors that influence legal education in India
Legal education is influenced by a multitude of factors. They are as follows-
- Governmental policy: Government policies and regulations play a significant role in shaping the legal education system in India, including funding, accreditation, and curriculum development.
- Bar council of India: The Bar Council of India (BCI) is the regulatory body for legal education in India, and its policies and decisions can have a significant impact on the legal education system.
- University grants commission: The UGC is responsible for funding and regulating legal education in India. It sets standards for accreditation and curriculum and provides funding for legal education institutions.
- Affiliating universities: Universities play a major role in shaping legal education in India through their affiliating role with law colleges. They have the power to approve the curriculum, faculty, and infrastructure of the law colleges.
- The private governing body of law colleges: Many law colleges in India are run by private governing bodies, which have a significant influence on the direction and focus of legal education in these institutions. These bodies set the admission criteria, and fees, and have a major role in the decision-making of the institutions.
- National litigation policy: The government’s national litigation policy can also influence legal education in India by shaping the demand for legal professionals with specific skills and expertise.
- Developments in the legal profession: Legal education in India is also influenced by international developments and trends in legal education. This includes the adoption of international best practices, exchange programs, and collaborations with foreign universities.
- Developments in the legal system: The legal system is constantly evolving, and legal education must keep pace with these changes in order to ensure that graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to practice law effectively.
- The kind of students who enrol: The student body can also play a role in shaping legal education, as the needs and interests of students can influence the curriculum and resources available.
- The calibre and commitment of the faculty: The calibre and commitment of the faculty can have a significant impact on the quality of legal education.
- The infrastructure available: Legal education institutions require a range of resources, such as libraries, computer labs, and moot courts, to provide a comprehensive education for their students.
- Technological advancements: Technology is constantly changing and this has an impact on the legal education system. For example, the use of online resources and virtual classrooms.
- The developments in other fields of education: Legal education is also influenced by developments in other fields of education, such as the use of problem-based learning and interdisciplinary approaches.
- The changes in society: Legal education is also influenced by the changes in society. For example, the increasing awareness of human rights and environmental issues may lead to the inclusion of such subjects in the curriculum.
Legal education institutions
Over the past ten years, private universities have taken a significant part in studying how legal education has changed. They work in the area of legal education and make an effort to raise the standard of legal instruction in India. National Law Schools, on the other hand, placed a strong emphasis on specialised education.
Many institutions have decided to completely abandon the lecture method of instruction in favour of more engaging and creative learning techniques. Moot courts are a common practice in Indian law schools, which has made legal education more practical and behavioural than merely learning the letter of the law.
The importance of extracurricular activities like seminars, workshops, and other events has now been integrated into the curriculum. The requirement for internships during the study period has been changed to mandatory. On-campus hiring has become a standard practice at the majority of law schools.
What are the Challenges?
There are several challenges associated with legal education in India, including:
- Quality of teaching: Many law schools in India have been criticized for having poor quality of teaching, with inadequate resources and infrastructure, and a lack of well-trained and motivated faculty.
- Curriculum: The legal curriculum in India has been criticized for being outdated and not reflective of the changing legal and social landscape.
- Access to legal education: Legal education in India is expensive and out of reach for many people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, which can limit diversity in the legal profession.
- Employment opportunities: Despite a large number of law graduates, there are limited employment opportunities in the legal sector, which can lead to a surplus of unemployed or underemployed graduates.
- Professionalism: There have been concerns about the lack of professionalism and ethics among some lawyers in India, which can negatively impact the legal profession and the administration of justice.
- Legal aid and access to justice: India’s legal aid system is underfunded and overburdened, which can make it difficult for people from marginalized communities to access justice.
- Research and innovation: There is a lack of focus on research and innovation in legal education in India, which can limit the development of new ideas and approaches to legal issues.
Legal education in India is going through a very exciting phase. Though India has the largest population of lawyers in the world, there is a need for eminent lawyers.
The opportunities for bright law graduates are massive and the new generation of law schools has a major role to improve the standards of legal education in India.
Hence, the scenario of legal education is becoming more and more specialized as was envisioned by the well-wishers of the legal profession.
Article Written by: Remya
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