lawyers in India

Legal Education to Meet Challenges of Globalisation

Written by: Pradip Kumar Das - Lecturer, Bengal Law College, Santiniketan, Birbhum, West Bengal
Legal Profession
Legal Service
  • Our colleges of law do not hold a place of high esteem either at home or abroad, nor has law become an area of profound scholarship and enlightened research - - Dr. Radhakrishnan.

    The last century of the last millennium was one of the worst in recorded history for war, conflict between men and men, nation and nation and for flagrant violation of human rights. On the other hand, the last century of the last millennium has also generated the promise of improvement and development in the field of science and technology including communication and information technology and law. That century also helped us to arrive at new economic, social, ecological and political arrangements all over the world. New horizons were opened in the field of trade, commerce, science and technology and law. Various new areas in the field of law were opened. The world is heading towards rapid progress in all fields including law. Globalization has changed dynamism of entire polity and society.

    Now the whole world is giving importance upon knowledge economy. Since the development of knowledge economy remains an important goal of the developed and developing countries, the establishment of educational institutions of global excellence along with changed new curriculum of global standard ought to become the priority of the developing country like India. Universities world wide are preparing them to face the challenges of globalization. Some of the famous Universities of the world like Cambridge, Harvard, New York, Oxford, Stanford and Yale are gearing themselves up to cope with the changing situation of internationalization of education. Globalization and the changing dimension of the Indian economy and polity have thrown up new challenges before us.
    It is in this international and global spectacle, I am venturing to write on this topic. This is not meant to be a polemical or critical piece but is an earnest appeal to the concerned authorities to do the needful in the changed era of globalization.

    However, this paper seeks to address the condition of existing legal education in India including the effectiveness of the existing legal curriculum. This paper examines the related provisions of GATS and the effects of Globalization upon legal education in India. The author also tries to examine the effectiveness of the recommendations of national knowledge commission, in this context, upon the system of legal education in India. This paper also highlights some suggestions to improve the standard of legal education in the era of Globalization.

    Legal education and Globalization:
    In a democratic country like India, where rule of law is the driving force of the Government, legal education assumes great significance. In Keshvanand Bharati VS. State of Kerala, Hon'ble Supreme court held that rule of law is the basic foundation of our democracy. Rule of law says that Be you ever so high, the law is above you. Education has wider implication. It stands for development.

    Education makes men perfect. In the words of Swami Vivekananda –it is the manifestation of perfection already in man. Again, legal education makes men law- abiding and socially conscious. Legal education helps in bringing and establishing socio-economic justice. Change is the law of nature and law is the regulator of social change. It is sine qua non for the development of rule of law and a sustainable democratic order. In other words, legal education is the heart and the very soul of the society for administering rule of law in a democratic country like ours. Therfore, quality legal education is to be imparted to the people taking into consideration the changing needs of the society and in the changing era of globalization.

    In Manubhai Vashi Vs. State of Maharashtra Hon'ble Supreme court held that ---the legal education should be able to meet the ever growing demands of the society and should be thoroughly equipped to cater to the complexities of different situations.

    As per C.Rajkumar, legal education and its importance to establish a rule of law society did not receive any serious priority or attention in the traditional Universities, although due to the sheer motivation of students themselves the departments were successful in producing many of the brightest lawyers and some of the best academics in the country. According to him, various law schools in India, however, successfully challenged this institutionalized mediocrity and succeeded in attracting serious students to the study of law. But the lack of researchers in law and absence of due emphasis on research and publications in the existing law schools have led to the absence of an intellectually vibrant environment. The reforms of the higher education system are central to developing a knowledge based society in India. Within the paradigm of such reforms, drastic steps need to be taken to address the numerous challenges facing legal education in India .Because, law and legal education has an important role to play in protecting rule of law and the democracy as a whole. Lawyers are the backbones of the society and they are social engineers.

    WTO agreement and Globalization:

    The World Trade Organization had come into effect from 1st January, 1995 with support of 85 founding member countries including India. India signed the agreement as one of the founder members. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of WTO agreement consists of six parts, xxix Articles and 8 Annexure . GATS impose number of general obligations on signatory countries. All signatory countries are bound to abide by the rules of the WTO. GATS require nations to accord most favoured nation status. As per this agreement a member country must provide both market access and national treatment to other member countries. As a consequence, we cannot prevent the entry of foreign lawyers into India. If we do so that will amount to an infringement of the provisions of GATS and WTO. Globalization has brought a tough competition in educational service sectors. We are facing tough competition not only from within but also from outside the country.

    Internationalization and Globalization of the legal profession and the probable entry of foreign lawyers into India in the near future, posses a serious threat to the legal professionals in India. We have to compete with the knowledge of foreign lawyers. Globalization of the legal profession is likely to introduce a sea- change in the entire fabric of law teaching and legal profession in India. The profession of law, today to a large extent, requires lawyers to represent clients not only within but also outside national frontiers. After the establishment of WTO and India gets actively involved in trade liberalization, including trade in legal services (under GATS), there is no escape from allowing equal treatment to law persons from other jurisdictions . As a result of the unprecedented changes induced by technology and globalization, all professions including legal profession are forced to re- think their method of management and delivery of services.

    Curriculum of Legal education and Globalization:

    The legal education in India is regulated by multiple agencies including University Grants Commission (UGC), Bar Council of India (BCI), The Government and the respective University authorities. For numerous reasons the quality of legal education in the 1970's was not satisfactory. Several attempts were made to reform curriculum and stricter controls were imposed by the Bar Councils Of India at various times but no substantial results were achieved in terms of quality, professionalism and competitiveness in legal education. To come out the problem the Bar Council of India itself decided to establish a model law school in the private sector or joint sector to bring reform in the legal education. As a result, the National Law School of India University was established in Bangalore in 1986. However at present, the number of national law schools has increased. At various times, curriculum of legal education was changed by the Bar Council of India. But these were not sufficient to meet the new challenges of globalization in the 21st century.

    The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) was, however, established by the Prime Minister of India in 2005 to recommend and undertake reforms in order to make India knowledge based economy and society. The National Knowledge Commission, while deliberating on issues related to knowledge concepts recognizes legal education as an important constituent of professional education. The working Group on legal education, inter alias, identified the problems and challenges relating to curriculum and recommended changes and reforms relating to curriculum .The report recommends the development of contemporary curriculum, which is integrated with other disciplines and also ensures regular feedback from stakeholders .The curricula and syllabi must be based in a multi disciplinary body of social science and scientific knowledge.

    Curriculum development should include expanding the domain of optional courses, providing deeper understanding of professional ethics, modernizing clinic courses, mainstreaming legal aid programs and developing innovative pedagogic methods . With the advent of globalization, it has become increasingly important to include international and comparative law perspectives . According to C. Rajkumar , in the era of globalization, we should pay attention in four important factors to improve the standard of legal education.

    These are: Global curriculum, Global faculty, Global degrees and Global interactions. We have to think globally but act locally. Law is one of the most dynamic subjects of the world. Dynamism is the life blood of law .A law which is static cannot survive for long and will be rejected by people for whom the law will be implemented. So, to keep pace with the changing situation of the world we have also to change, by addition, subtraction, or cancellation, of the existing curriculum of the legal education in India. Otherwise, in future, it will loose its importance and will turn into a relic of the past.

    Some suggestions and conclusion:
    The legal education in 21st century should consider the globalization and its implications on legal field at national and international levels. The Bar Council of India, the State Bar Councils, the State Governments, the University Grants Commission and the Universities have a great role to play for improving the standard of legal education in the country. They should work in a comprehensive manner without any conflict. New avenues should be explored by the Bar Council of India and The University Grants Commission in the era of computer applications and information technology in the legal fields and potential uses of internet in the practice of law and legal education. They should find out the ways and means to meet the new challenges and provide better tools of research and methodology of learning for the generations to come. Bar Council of India, constituted under section 4 of the Advocates Act, 1961, is an apex body for the entire legal profession in India. The advocates Act, 1961, invests BCI with wide ranging powers to prescribe standards of legal education for the practice of law. In the opinion of Dr. N. R. Madhava Menon , legal education in India should be liberated from the dominant control of the Bar Councils and entrusted to legal academics with freedom to innovate, experiment and compete globally.

    The recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission, in this regard, deserve attention of the Bar, the judiciary and the Government. The reforms initiated in few law schools all over India have made only a small dent. However, the vision of legal education is to provide justice- oriented education essential to the realization of values mentioned in the Indian Constitution. In keeping with this vision, legal education must aim at preparing legal professionals who will play decisive leadership roles maintaining the highest standards of professional ethics and a spirit of public service. Legal education should also prepare professionals equipped to meet the new challenges and dimensions of internationalization, where the nature and organization of law and legal practice are undergoing a paradigm shift . Existing curriculum should be immediately changed as per recommendation of National Knowledge Commission. Any further delay in this regard will be suicidal. According to Justice A.M.Ahmadi ----- We have waited long enough to repair the cracks in the legal education system of this country and it is high time that we rise from arm- chairs and start the repair work in right earnest.

    Before I finish, I must opine that any overnight solution in this regard is not possible. But, at the same time, any dogmatic adherence to the old, traditional and existing system would be suicidal in the days ahead. So, a balance should be maintained in order to change the entire fabric of legal education system in India, keeping in mind the necessity of Globalization. Let us gird up the loins, to make necessary changes in the existing system, so that Indian legal education can face the Global challenges.

    1. Dr. S. R. Myneni, World Trade Organization (WTO); Asia Law House, 2nd edition 2003.
    2. Dr. J. N. Pandey; Constitutional Law of India, Central Law Agency; 44th edn. 2007.
    3. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand; H. L. Sarin Memorial lecture; Legal education in India- past, present and future;
    4. C.Rajkumar, Legal education and Global Philanthropy.
    5. C.Rajkumar, Globalization and legal education .
    6. General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of WTO.
    7. Dr. N.R. Madhava Menon; Reforming the legal profession: Some ideas.
    8. Report of the Working Group on Legal Education of The National Knowledge Commission.
    9. Justice A.M. Ahmadi; Reparing the cracks in legal education.
    10. C. Rajkumar; Improving legal education in India.
    11. THE HINDU.
    13. AIR 1973 S.C.; 1461.
    14. AIR 1996 S.C.; 1.

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