Legal education in India is classified into two general types of law schools:
- Traditional law colleges like Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, Faculty of Law, Benaras Hindu University, etc. These colleges mostly run a three-year program.
- Modern law schools like NLUs (National Law Universities) and other law schools which run a five-year integrated program.
I have had the opportunity to be a part of both the types of law schools as a student and there were some worrying signs I observed, especially with respect to research as a vocation. Some of these include the following:
- DISPARITY IN THE TYPE OF EDUCATION IMPARTED : Five year law courses stress a lot on modern methodologies of teaching. With special stress on continuous evaluation through assignments, projects and the like, students barely have the time to pursue an internship which lasts for a significant period of time or pursue an in-depth research in a subject of their choice. Traditional law colleges which pursue a three-year law course have immense flexibility when it comes to syllabus, considering the fact that their course structure does not stress on assignments. But these traditional law colleges lack the wherewithal to impart vocational skills (like research skills) to their students.
- RESEARCH: COMPULSION VS. LUXURY – In most law schools offering the five-year integrated courses, there is an array of assignments to be submitted for each subject in a semester, in addition to a research project on a topic of one’s choice in each of the subjects. This raises an important question: with an increase in the number of assignments and projects required to be submitted, is the quality of the research in them compromised? The answer to that is confounding, to say the least. Psychologically speaking, it has been observed that to impart someone with a particular skill, incentivising methods work more efficiently than methods based on compulsion. Logically speaking, it would make more sense if a student has to focus on writing one research paper in a particular subject, on a topic of his/her choosing from the list of subjects in the semester. This would give more creative freedom to the students to express themselves in a more lucid manner. Additionally, they will also be left with the time needed to go into the nuances of research and make an in-depth study, which would, in turn, make them appreciate the organic aspects of law as a field of study and a means of social engineering.
Traditional law colleges, on the other hand, have a very nonchalant attitude towards research as a vocational skill that students should be made to develop. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that they lack the resources to frame the course accordingly.
The best way forward for legal education is to facilitate a free-flowing exchange of information and academic faculties. Furthermore, a common ground is needed to be arrived at so as to minimise the disparity in legal education.
Ishaan Michu (4th Sem)
Student Campus Law Center, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.