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The Prime Minister's views on legal education


A few days ago, the Prime Minister of India delivered a candid speech on legal education in India. There wasn't much about it in the news. I'm guessing it was because he didn't really nice things about the state of affairs in law schools across the country. 


I must say the speech was surprisingly candid. No lies about how great legal education in India is. It wasn't sales pitch for an election or an upcoming unappealing policy change. By far the most honest speech about the situation we're currently facing.


1. Teachers

WHAT HE SAID: "There is also the serious problem of law teachers – a vexed problem of numbers, quality and diversity. We need good law teachers to shape and nurture young legal minds. The sad reality is that when we look for experts to head new law schools and the new faculties, we have precious few to choose from. There is an obvious need to provide more uniform but calibrated and better salaries, accompanied by considerably improved terms of service for our teachers."


WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE ALSO SAID: "I've instructed the Law Minister to review the salary of faculty members across law schools. Apart from that I have requested him prepare a report on how we can attract young minds to be teachers. From what I understand teaching assistants who are the future faculty of such law schools do not have attractive pay packages forcing many not to take up such positions.

                 We are also looking into inviting professors from Universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and other renowned Universities to conduct seminars for teachers in all law schools on how to teach as well as inspire students. Currently, there is excessive focus on rote learning which is dampening the true understanding of law. I expect this program to be compulsory and free for all law teachers across India. My Government aims to provide all law students an equal opportunity to be inspired irrespective of where they are studying."



WHAT HE SAID: "Our law libraries are too few and woefully stocked. We must provide the latest tools of research to our students, scholars and practitioners. Law schools should be linked with the best sources of knowledge globally."


WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE ALSO SAID: " In order to help our law students, my Government has sanctioned money for building a library and computer center in the capital of each State. Every law student will have free access to these libraries which will be stocked with the scholarly books on all topics along with journals and magazine. Along with this, NIC will co-ordinate with corporates and law firms to establish a computer centers adjoining each library. Each center will have at least 100 computers and broadband internet. Students will be able to access national and international legal databases. "




WHAT HE SAID: "Internship and post degree placements must also be regulated to match applicants and recipients appropriately. Today, some fortunate students who have the right contacts have the luxury of plenty in terms of options while several of their talented but less resourceful colleagues go a begging for placements."


WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE ALSO SAID: " I have asked the law Minister to consult top law firms and lawyers across the country to prepare an independent legal internship agency which will help students find internships. This will be a transparent process which will allow students to apply for their internships on a website and firms and lawyers must pick interns from those who apply. The credentials of those who are accepted must be published. We want our corporate and legal culture to be merit based rather than one based on influence."




WHAT HE SAID: "We must dream if we want to make progress of having a world class educational system. Law universities should be a part of our national ambition. I have a vision that the new South Asian University soon to be established by this Government with other South Asian countries would ultimately expand to include an outstanding law faculty with an eminent global faculty." 


WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE ALSO SAID: " To begin this process, we are consulting law schools, established under various State legislations, to build an integrated course structure. In order to improve the quality of faculty members and opportunities for law students, we must allow mobility for faculty members and students within such law schools. This will also lead to more exposure for all those concerned. Further, it will allow us to identify quality faculty and future leaders for the education sector."




WHAT HE SAID: "Our legal education system should be particularly sensitive to the needs of the marginalized sections of our society like women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the poor. Not only should these sections of society be adequately represented among law students, the legal education we impart should inculcate sensitivity towards the special needs of the under-privileged sections of our community."


WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE ALSO SAID: " The new law schools are becoming elitist due to the lack of representation of all sections of society. Law students need to be in touch with society from the beginning. I have personally instructed the Bar Council of India to ask all Universities to introduce full need-based scholarships. This will ensure that all students whose parents earn less than a particular amount will have an education free of cost. Universities must ensure that those coming through the various quotas are genuine cases. It has come to light that educational institutes admit quota applicants even if their parents earn more than the prescribed income."




WHAT HE SAID: "One expects even experienced and established legal luminaries, judges and other law professionals to submit to periodic and continuing legal education programmes without standing on pomp or seniority."


WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE: " My Government will soon table a Bill to introduce specialized benches in each Court. India is a land of more than five thousand laws and it is important that Judges are well versed with these laws. It is impossible for one person to understand all these laws. I am sure this will also ensure the quick disposal of cases along with greater accountability and transparency within the judiciary. I appeal to the Hon'ble Judges in the Supreme Court and various High Courts to support the upcoming Bill."


Read the full speech on http://www.pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=61265&kwd=


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