Customising law curriculum for broader skill sets

Customising law curriculum for broader skill sets

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To reign over the lucrative legal sphere in India, it is important for a law student to seek an education that blends real-world knowledge with a comprehensive and interdisciplinary understanding of the law.

Globally-relevant foundation

The law school curriculum in our country requires some overhauling in order to cope up with the changing needs and demands of the society. Generally, a law degree must expose students to a diverse and wide-ranging curriculum that breaks disciplinary boundaries as they explore the connections between different fields. For instance, law can be applied to medicine for medical negligence cases by studying the tort law or to sociology through family law, etc. A curriculum that defies convention not only grants the law students a globally-relevant foundation in law but also imparts them with an accomplished skill set that can be employed virtually in any professional setup.

Joining a law school is a pathway for different career options, viz. joining a corporate as legal counsel, donning the mantle of a judge (judiciary), practising as an advocate in Supreme Court or High Courts, legal research and policy, to name a few. Thus a law school curriculum should be designed in such a way that the varied career requirements can be incorporated.

Few options

In the five-year integrated law education, everyone is reading the same subjects. Going to law school to get a law degree has become a little like going to an ice-cream parlour for a scoop of the same flavour. Barring maybe a few toppings in the form of some specialisations (honours), there isn’t much choice.

Curriculums in this day and age should be tailor-made to suit the requirements of aspiring judges, corporate general counsels, litigating lawyers and the requirements of each of these varies from the other. It is important to introduce law students to the basics of all the necessary laws in the first three years and then in their fourth and fifth year of legal education, mould the curriculum as per the individual needs of the students?

A student who dreams of being a corporate legal counsel will really appreciate daily workshops or moot courts in which students role-play simulations of scenarios faced by a general counsel. Professors should reinvigorate the way they teach and explore different teaching methodologies.

A combination of the required theoretical knowledge and practical real-world experiences is the best approach.

For example, when dealing with intellectual property law, the students can be encouraged to closely examine a real and a counterfeit designer handbag and pay attention to the materials, the stitching, and the labels. It should be the aim of law schools to re-model their course curriculum in such a manner that they transport the students out of the classroom and into the community to help those in need, through legal aid and so on, as this helps them to gain unparalleled industry experience.

Universities should be given the necessary freedom to structure their courses to suit the needs of their students. The Bar Council of India, which is responsible for designing the compulsory legal curriculum in India should, therefore, focus on the varying needs of the students so that an aspiring advocate or a judge can start his or her training from the fourth year of law school rather than having to start from scratch after graduation.

(The writers are with IFIM Law School)

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