– Dr. Sukhvinder Singh Dari, Director, Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur
Law education in India is offered at different universities and colleges where a lot of them are following a traditional approach over a standardised approach. The legal profession is very different from mainstream professions like engineering and medicine and is much more liberal in nature. The core value of this profession demands a strong skill set as it involves subjects that are multidisciplinary and have strong academic performance isn’t the only area of focus. While India boasts of having 1500 law schools and law departments, the uncontrolled expansion to meet the needs of an increasing number of students has led to a depreciating quality of the curriculum. However, the unexpected emergence of the COVID -19 pandemic has presented these institutes with an opportunity to rework their teaching techniques, curriculum and methodologies that have been outdated and introduce innovative learning programmes.
The nationwide lockdown has made it imperative for education to go online. This is where institutes are taking advantage and making a shift from the classroom lessons to online learning. Although they have a long way to go, they have already started upping their bar in a big way and are paving a way forward to the post-pandemic times.
Below are a few aspects that will be worked upon in this entire makeshift and reinvent new pedagogies based on the need of the hour:
Legal education is quite a diverse field with new branches like healthcare law, property law, cybersecurity law, environmental law emerging every day. These branches require an education curriculum that is tailor-made to the competencies and the specific roles and responsibilities. Legal education in the post-pandemic period will witness a transition from the theoretical based subjects to practical based learning which will include skill-based learning like training in data analytics, critical assessment and other legal delivery essentials. The new pedagogy will help in instilling flexibility, experienced-based learning and make the subjects much more interesting. Joint faculty teaching, student exchange programs and collaborative research will be encouraged and hold greater importance than it has been in the pre-pandemic times.
Technological interventions have disrupted law education as traditional techniques involve books and other outdated methodologies which have been carried out so far. However, with the nationwide lockdown and schools and colleges being shut, education has become virtual. Colleges are revamping their curriculum and high-quality virtual learning opportunities have been put to test. Innovative technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning-based tools are being embraced in order to boost research capabilities. Legal education in the post-pandemic period will be much more tech enabled and scalable as students and faculty will no longer be constrained to being physically present. The new pedagogy will leverage digitisation on the present curriculum, training the present generation into becoming tech-savvy lawyers.
Promoting an interdisciplinary approach
Multidisciplinary research has been the backbone of modern legal education. Institutions now have the ability to provide a modernised legal imagination by providing relevant exposure to different themes in the world. Colleges in the post-pandemic period will triumph over being the storehouses and will be creators of knowledge. Another important aspect of the new methodology would be roping in highly trained, experienced faculty members from all around the world who are in sync with the changing times and will critically nurture the upcoming talent. The new legal education paradigm will be focussing on KPI’s like being market-ready, fetching a job, or passing the bar with good grades improving the student’s overall performance.
Although most of the law schools have already started embracing and implementing the aforementioned methodologies, we still have a long way to go in order to get there. India has the full potential to become one of the most powerful hubs in the legal education sector. However, it is up to the new education providers and academicians to restructure the system as per the changing times.
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