Faizan Mustafa, vice-chancellor, NALSAR University, has lamented that studying law today has become “by chance rather by choice”, with many choosing to join law colleges not to become to “good lawyers” but “to become corporate lawyers”.
A panel held at TNIE’s ThinkEdu Conclave debated the question of how much law training is ideal today. The panel included several eminent panellists apart from Mustafa including R Venkata Rao, S Prabakaran and Sudha Ramalingam.
All the panellists unanimously agreed that the real practice of law occurs in lower or trial courts rather than in Supreme Court.
R Venkata Rao, vice-chancellor, NLS Bangalore noted that “21st century lawyers” cannot be trained with “with 20th century mindset and 19th century tools.” He also pointed out that law students are mostly heading to corporates rather than to lower courts to practice, adding that “privatisation of law” was already occurring
It was agreed that for the Indian legal system to become ready for the world stage, it was necessary to have “professional lawyers”, and training such lawyers needed a well-equipped education system.
Curriculum Having Too Many Corporate Courses
Mustafa opined that the curriculum today is loaded with corporate courses as that’s what “sells”. He also argued that expecting students to write 50 research papers in five years “was difficult “. He additionally emphasised on the fact that legal education not only works as “an instrument of social control” but also “as an instrument of social change”.
S Prabakaran, co-chairman of Bar Council of India questioned how many colleges in India give “proper training” to students, adding that good lawyers cannot be expected when a college admits 2000 students. He recommended that academicians be allowed to practice in public litigation related issues and ensure “high ethical standards” in the education system.
Senior advocate Sudha Ramalingam, a participant noted that law is actually practiced at the trial courts while in others, “there is just a play of words.” She also noted that “the academic education” today has “alienated students from the reality of the courts.”
The session ended with the panellists agreeing that academicians have a huge responsibility in restoring faith in the country’s judicial system as it shapes the minds of future lawyers and judges.