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Ambitious BCI legal education reforms from 2011: ranking law colleges, standardisation and improvements

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has set itself less than five months to kickstart the overhaul of Indian legal education, beginning with a revised accreditation requirements for law schools, phasing out three-year LLBs, introducing benchmarking of colleges, standardising the academic calendar, creating a new national curriculum and improving teaching and continuous education.

As first reported on Legally India last week, solicitor general and BCI chairman Gopal Subramanium has now announced proposals for a timeline to implement the first radical education reforms by no later than 15 December 2010.

"In light of the urgency for practical long-term reform of legal education in India to ultimately strengthen the legal profession and benefit India and its citizens as a whole, the Bar Council looks forward to the co-operation and constructive assistance of the various stakeholders," read the BCI's chairman's note that was published on the BCI website.

Quality control of colleges

"A revised list of requirements for recognition of law schools by the Bar Council of India
would be published, emphasising minimum requirements of infrastructure, faculty, and other facilities for better learning. A failure to meet these minimum standards would result in a loss of accreditation, and degrees awarded by such law schools that lose accreditation would not be recognised by the Bar Council," said the BCI's note (bold emphasis as in original note).

"The Bar Council will implement a system of benchmarking and evaluating the quality and standards of law schools across the country. The measures used to evaluate law schools will include factors such as: the preference shown by candidates for admission to a law school in the uniform admission procedure for admission highlighted above; the success rate of graduates from a law school in the All India Bar Examination; the quality and extent of infrastructure and resources available at a law school; and the number of publications by faculty from a law school in peer-reviewed publications."

Subramanium said last week that he was hoping to restructure "law colleges from 930 to 175 only top quality institutions".

However, BCI spokesperson Gopal Sankaranarayanan told Legally India that no final decision had yet been made on that issue. "I will confirm that the Chairman has mooted a proposal to 'consolidate' (not reduce) the large number of colleges into centers of excellence. […] If, based on proper review, and applying the principles laid down in the legal education manual, certain institutions are found to be below par, an appropriate decision will be taken at that time," said Sankaranarayanan.


The five-year LLB degree "would be made the norm" while three-year LLB programmes would "focus on specialised areas of law", said the note. the BCI would also try to strengthen domestic LLM degrees, exploring the option of a nine to twelve-month LLM degree programme.

The BCI would also "publish an academic calendar setting out broad dates that all law schools must follow, setting out such details as the date of commencement of the academic year; alignment of semester dates in law schools; dates for examination; and dates for the release of results and awarding of provisional and final degrees."


Curriculums would also be revised to provide a "mixture of a doctrinal education in law as well as a vocational education, which is critical in the context of the nation's needs and

To strengthen the quality of teaching, the BCI had "already taken measures to ensure that all law faculty are paid according to the minimum pay scales prescribed by the UGC Pay Commission. Further, in line with the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission in its Report of March 2009, and the 184th Report of the Law Commission of India, the Bar Council proposes that the requirements of an Ll.M. degree to teach law be relaxed in the case of candidates with an Ll.B. degree who have an exceptional and demonstrable ability to teach."

Additionally, "in order to upgrade the skills of existing members of the faculty in law schools, BCI intends to establish a national-level advanced training institute for training teachers in specialised fields so that novel methods of pedagogy can be implemented and importantly, a minimum base level for teaching quality in legal education is established."

There would be a "mandatory and strict" requirement for English to be the medium of instruction at all law colleges.

The consultations with stakeholders in legal education would be conducted and completed by 31 October 2010 with the implemented changes planned to be rolled out from January 2011 or in the 2011-12 academic year, as applicable.

Click here to read the full set of proposals.

Photo by bionicteaching

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