- Dr. Anita A Patil
Asst. Prof. of Law, NLSIU, Bangalore
Law as a profession plays an important role in developing lawyers who act as social engineers and work towards the cause of nation building. Legal education is not just imparting legal knowledge and training the students to equip with skills to handle legal profession, but it is also an instrument of national development to deliver social justice to the people (1). Manubhai Pragaji Vashi v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1996 SC 1“… the need for a continuing and well-organized legal education is absolutely essential reckoning the new trends in the world order, to meet every growing challenge. The legal education shall be able to meet the ever-growing demands of the society and should be thoroughly equipped to cater to the complexities of the different situations.” Infusing the sense of social obligation on the part of legal service providers is the responsibility of legal education (2).
Legal education is not just imparting legal knowledge and training the students to equip with skills to handle legal profession, but it is also an instrument of national development to deliver social justice to the people (3). It ought to build creed of lawyers to be architects of social structure. The other social development which affects legal education is the increased juridification of society. The role of law in society has given rise to an increased variety of legal activities. Many of these lie outside the traditional preserve of the legal professions. The growth of new professions practising law to deal with new kinds of work is not a modern problem. But the broad definitions of legal services required by modern society can be seen in new groups of people engaged in legal work in areas such as consumer advice, marriage advice, refugee work, human rights work, social protection, and so on. Because of this greater diversity of ways in which individuals may work professionally with the law, the whole idea of legal education has to be broadened. It is not sufficient that legal education prepares students for the classical professions as lawyers or judges. Rather, there needs to be something generic that is capable of helping students to progress into a number of different career paths which involve the law. No doubt, the academic ambitions of intellectual and skills development are part of the general pattern of liberal legal education, the core of legal education lies in a distinct subject-matter and distinct methods of dealing with it.
Legal education is not just the study of law, but a study which also inculcates the ability to make use of law, to analyse it, and to criticize it as a member of the legal community (4). The capacity to deal with new legal and social developments, and relate these to legal principle and existing solutions is a critical feature of being a good lawyer. But the concern is not simply the need to engage in lifelong learning. The professions recognize this both in the various updating and training opportunities, which they provide in-house, and in the professional requirement to engage in continuing education. In this view of legal education, students have to be prepared to cope with diversity and change. They have to be able to work with the tradition and reinvent it more radically than in the past. The other facet of legal education is what describes as the ‘enlightenment’ function, of developing the ability to generate new understandings, even to ‘unlearn’ what has been inherited from the past. In view of the constitutional contemplation towards sensitizing the operation of legal system to promote human rights and access to justice, legal education which prepares law persons to shoulder these responsibilities, should undergo these refinements. A legally conscious civil society, free from corruption and prejudice, can be built well only on the sound foundation of legal education. Bringing social justice through legal literacy to the doorsteps of people should be the vital role of the legal profession.
1. The objectives of National Law Universities as contemplated under various State enactments include this goal.
2. Prof. P.Ishwara Bhat, “Curriculum Reform in Legal Education For Professional Excellence, Critical understanding and higher social responsibility”, p.3.
3. Prof. P. Ishwara Bhat , “ Centerstaging High Quality Research In Legal Education: Aspirations, Necessity, Challenges and Agenda”, p.1.
4. John S. Bell , Legal Education, The Oxford Handbook of Legal Studies, p.5.