HISTORICALLY, LEGAL education was imparted in
There is no doubt that the establishment of the national law schools starting with the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in Bangalore successfully challenged this institutionalised mediocrity and succeeded in attracting serious students to the study of law. In fact, the study of law has received better attention among high school leavers in the country with the introduction of five-year integrated programmes. This has brought up new issues relating to pedagogy and approach to undergraduate studies for imparting legal education for high school leavers. The national law schools that have been established in
Research can contribute significantly toward improvement in teaching and, more importantly, addressing numerous challenges relating to law and justice. If one were to look at the faculty profile of the world’s top law schools, one will find that there is great emphasis on research and publications among academics. Besides teaching, they contribute in significant ways by initiating and developing research projects in cutting edge areas, by professional contributions to international organisations, law firms and corporations, and by playing an important role in government policy formulation and promoting civil society activism. Law schools and academics in
Following are some of the challenges facing legal education in the country:
1) Physical infrastructure and financial resources:
The law schools in
2) Need for developing philanthropic initiatives:
Philanthropy in legal education is rare. It by and large remains a state-sponsored endeavour or an unimpressive commercial enterprise devoid of high academic standards. There is an urgent need for encouraging philanthropic initiatives in promoting excellence in legal education and research in the country. Recently, the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) constituted by the Union Government in 2005 submitted its first annual report. Legal education was one of the focus areas; among the different issues considered as part of the NKC’s consultations with law academics and practitioners were “methods of attracting and retaining talented faculty” and “developing a serious research tradition that is globally competitive.” The NKC report noted the following with regard to philanthropic contributions: “It is clear that we have not exploited this potential. In fact the proportion of such contributions in total expenditure on higher education has declined from more than 12 per cent in the 1950s to less than three per cent in [the] 1990s…” Philanthropy in legal education is essential for its growth and development. Every effort ought to be made by all stakeholders, including the law schools, the bar, the bench, the law firms and corporations for promoting philanthropic initiatives in legal education and research.
3. Hiring good teachers and researchers:
There is a need to fundamentally re-examine the context of legal education in the country. The present system does not sufficiently recognise the key problem with regard to legal education — lack of faculty members who are good teachers as well as sound researchers. There is need to identify talent among young lawyers so that they can be encouraged to consider academia as a career option. There is no doubt that poor financial incentives discourage many young and brilliant lawyers from considering a career in academia. It is important to address this issue as well. But there could be other factors where improvements and changes are feasible: such as career development opportunities within the law schools; development of research infrastructure including the resources to organise and participate in national and international conferences, and undertake serious research; a harmonious environment that fosters mutual respect; governance of the law schools in a transparent fashion; and, above all, faith in the leadership of the institution that excellence will not only be promoted as a general policy, but affirmative efforts will be taken to encourage and support excellence.
Globalisation and the changing dimensions of the Indian economy and polity have thrown up new challenges of governance. Rule of law in all its dimensions remains the single most important challenge the country is facing. The criminal and civil justice systems are under severe stress. The role of law schools in imparting legal education and developing lawyers who are rational thinkers and social engineers is central to the future of legal education and the development of a knowledge economy in