Reforms needed in Law Education in India – UPSC GS2

Context: CJI remarked that national law universities are elitist and detached from social realities.
Issues in Law Education:
  • Students from National Law Universities are not joining the bar instead they opt for corporate jobs.
  • Even among those who joined the bar, the trend was to practise at the levels of the Supreme Court of India and High Courts while ignoring trial advocacy.
  • Law graduates were ill-equipped to handle the profession, and that sub-standard legal educational institutions in the country were a worrying trend.
  • The focus on legal education should be on the practice and not theory.
Problem areas of national law universities:
  • Pedagogy: National law universities are criticised for imparting pedagogy focused on securing placements in corporate firms.
  • State funding: Even though they are referred to as ‘National’ Law Universities, they are established and partially funded by State governments. With state funding shrinking, most national law universities are facing a serious crisis.
  • The ‘national’ character of these universities is being diluted due to state’s interference: Many States are able to exert influence on several key issues such as domicile-based reservations and pay scale choices as they are the primary funding agencies.
  • Student protests in several universities for better curriculum and faculties: The national law universities face stiff competition from upcoming private universities vis-à-vis quality faculties owing to many factors including rigid pay scales. The same results in a demand from students for better faculty, pedagogies and curricula.
  • Another reason for student protests in national law universities has been the inability of the leadership to respond to the needs of the students, faculty, and staff in an adequate manner.
  • Need to focus on the promotion of research-driven academics.
  • Need to bridge the disconnect between social realities and legal education.
  • Need to move beyond the rigid framework created by the Bar Council of India and the University Grants Commission, which, for example, requires the faculty to undertake a  minimum number of lecture hours per week, etc.
  • Need to have separate faculties for teaching and research.
  • Research should also be promoted through institutional arrangements and incentive schemes.
  • The pedagogy must be focused on practical aspects of law, rather than just the theory.
  • Need to have different approaches towards imparting education at graduate and postgraduate levels: The focus of education at a graduate level must be practice-oriented, with a focus on imparting students with the ability to learn and understand. On the other hand, the focus of pedagogy at the post-graduate level should be academic, with stress on imparting students with the ability to not only critically evaluate but also to apply the knowledge.
  • Need to establish an independent regulator for legal education in India.

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