- Vishal Vyas
Civil Judge & Judicial Magistrate, Rajasthan Judicial Services
Many law students face difficulties when they enter professional life. It is aptly said - it is one thing in theory and another in practice or to perform. However, if law schools adequately prepare their students they can perform exceptionally well.
In developing countries, the system depicts a sorry story, and improvement in law schools is yet to be seen. It could be a complete recipe of disaster for the legal profession. First things first, the curriculum is not revised hence, students are compelled to go through or invest their time of 5 years to not-so updated syllabus. This has done more harm to them than good. Secondly, law schools are not making their students tech-savvy. This not only wastes time but also takes away another learning opportunity from students. They are unable to access information in a quick time. For example, it is much easier to look for case laws through law sites instead of law digests. Thirdly, the inefficacy of assignments and projects, if not all, most of the students copy-paste the things. It’s not all their fault, as when one is given homework without creating one’s interest in it – this is going to happen (yes, CTRL+C & CTRL+V). Another most important thing is research, which in a legal study is the foundation of being a good Lawyer and Legal Drafting is a pillar to support the roof which is the strength to argue. Unfortunately, the emphasis of law school is on just grades and not learning.
To make a good business, of course in-take of law students is more than required or available resources. Ultimately, this is counterproductive - both for students and institutions as well. Is it that the college does not really care or deliberately compromise on legal interest for the sake of exploitation and making money? Well, the things (apparent) do say so. Cheating in exams is trending too. Colleges fail to anticipate its student’s creativity and put credibility and reputation of the legal profession on stake. No strings attached, the ratio of females in the law profession is extremely low and law schools are doing nothing in this regard. Not any scholarships for them, not any incentives. The law schools within curriculum years do not even offer any internships. There are many other factors involved, and the jury is still out.
Nonetheless, in developed countries, the situation is far better. From curriculum to giving assignments, from a way of teaching to giving students an exposure to different kinds of activities, from moot courts to mock trials, from legal clinics to offering students paralegal or clerk jobs at law firms, from legal drafting to the latest research method and what not? You name it! Law schools produce the best lawyers and not just liars.
There are no two opinions on it. To excel, developing countries shall follow the models of developed countries. If law schools want to clear their names they shall start amending the system. Here are my two cents how law schools can prepare future lawyers, superlatively:
1.) Admissions strictly adhere to merit-based and the practice of excessive enrollment shall be spurned.
2.) Law schools must be keeping in trend with technology, modern world, and improvised syllabus.
3.) Pathetic and old system shall be replaced by innovative and creative ways of teaching and inclusive education.
4.) Legal research shall be given as much impotence as it deserves, besides, legal drafting must be taught.
5.) Moot courts and mock trials are important to develop argumentative skills.
6.) Legal clinics at every law school is mandatory to get acquainted with their students to different medico-legal procedures and several other practical aspects of different cases.
7.) Internships will give them exposure, and are necessary for them to gain an insight of legal practice also towards more diverse experiential learning.
8.) Cheating in exams is malpractice, and it shall be condemned.
9.) Management must inculcate ethical and moral values into students.
10.) The focus shall be on the business side of the law as well.
11.) Law schools require proficiency in legal technologies.
12.) Access to law sites for every student shall be free of cost.
The ineffectiveness is not worth defending however, worth correcting. Effective strategies and amendments can do wonders. Law schools are mandated to carry out its function in a magnificent manner. To reform the institutions the due process shall be less political and more legal, as this is a serious cause of concern for both the law students and the legal fraternity. To do justice with the common public in general and the legal profession in particular, the law school system needs to be changed according to the world’s needs. I hope to see changes – positive one of course. Lawyers are the most important segment of society that is why they shall be prepared well as William Howard Taft nicely put -
“Lawyers are necessary in a community. Some of you...take a different view; but as I am a member of that legal profession, or was at one time, and have only lost standing in it to become a politician, I still retain the pride of the profession. And I still insist that it is the law and the lawyer that make popular government under a written constitution and written statutes possible.”