Wednesday 22 June 2016

Legal Education in India

Legal education in India has a great defect, and that is this : it imparts only theoretical knowledge, and not knowledge of the practical side of law. But real knowledge is a combination of the theoretical and the practical.

 We in India have broadly followed the British system of legal education, not the American.

In England, the idea was that only knowledge of the theoretical legal principles should be imparted in the law course, and one has to acquire knowledge of the practical side of law only in the field. So what was taught were only theoretical principles, e.g. theory of liability, theories of punishment for crimes, that a company is a distinct legal entity, etc

In America, on the other hand, practical knowledge is also imparted in the law course, which is usually a 4 year course after which the degree J.D. i.e. Juris Doctor is awarded. Since the fresh American law graduate has knowledge of both theory and practice, he can immediately get a job in a law firm, often on a high salary as he is pf practical utility.

 In India we have followed the British system of legal education, and so what is taught in our law colleges are only theoretical principles. The result is that after completing his 5 year course when the law graduate enters the practical field of law practice he usually finds himself ( or herself ) at sea. He has then to spend another 3-4 years under a senior learning the practical side of law. Thus the 5 year law course really becomes a 8 or 9 year course.

 A law graduate who has completed his 5 year course should be able to earn his bread and no longer be a burden on his parents. But how can he earn his bread when he has no practical knowledge of law ? People will give money to a lawyer if he is of some utility to them. But a fresh law graduate in India is usually of no utility to the public.

For example, many people complain that the police is not registering their F.I.R. ( because the sub inspector of the police station has been won over by the opposite party, or for some other reason ). When such a person comes to a fresh law graduate and asks for his advice as to what is to be done in this situation, the latter is usually unable to advise.

  Similarly, if a wife has been driven out of her house by the husband and seeks advice, the fresh law graduate is unable to give correct advice.

If a person wants to make a will, the fresh law graduate will usually be unable to advise how to do it.
 Many more such examples can be given.

Who will engage such a lawyer ?

 I mentioned this to many Heads of the Law Department of Universities across India which I visited, and requested them  to take remedial steps by adding a subject ' Practical Law ' in the curriculum. They said they were helpless in the matter as the syllabus is set by the Bar Council of India, and they cannot unilaterally change it. I met one Chairman of the Bar Council of India and told him the problem, and requested him to do the needful in the matter, but he did nothing.

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