Law governs the world and its people and is the ultimate instrument of change. It has the potential to reform society and guarantees justice to its people. Principally, it is the basic element and facilitator of justice. It serves as an important instrument for achieving socio-economic development in society.
The primary function of law is to maintain peace and order in society while protecting individual rights and freedom and is, therefore, a basic element of society. The welfare of the society depends on the democratic nature of the country, which is further dependent on the law. The law gives structure to the nation. It regulates protocol at various places of employment, ensuring that all employees are treated equally and ensures our protection, whether person or property, from any kind of injury or damages. Law is a part of every aspect of our daily lives and every action of ours is regulated by law.
Role of Legal Education in Changing Society:
Change is a natural and continuous process. However, a change may not always be in the right direction; there may be changes which are undesirable and negative. The way law and state are organised says that both are supplementary and complementary to each other. The law attempts to control the process of change to give it a desirable direction. Legal institutions and the state are at the core of all social discipline. In theory the sovereign power, the ultimate, legal authority in a policy can legislate on any matter and can exercise control over any change process within the state.
Legal education focuses on developing good lawyers who are educated in human values and human rights, besides the law itself. After all, law functions within a society and not in a vacuum, and a society is often value-based which makes cold hard logic difficult to apply in all situations. In many instances, it may lead to an irregular and unjust result.
According to the changes in development and the cultural milieu, new laws are framed. The government lays down new policies and laws for certain issues like Gender quality, Women Empowerment, Equal wage for equal work etc, in sync with the forever evolving consciousness of the society. This is particularly difficult in India due to the inhabitants belonging to different cultures and faiths.
History of Legal Education in India:
There are different views regarding the origin of the legal system in India. The existence of legal education in India commenced from the dawn of the Aryan civilization. Legal education in India was initially a product of the concept of Dharma in the Vedic period. The Vedas are considered the original sources of law. The kings were considered as the highest Court of Appeals. The kings used to appoint several officials such as a ‘vakil’ for maintaining peace, law and order in the kingdom. He was also advised by a Sabha which executed both advisory and executive functions. The Parishad was an expert committee comprising of ministers or officials, (generally Brahmans) who were authorities on the law and advised the King accordingly. In modern India, legal education came into existence in 1885.
Current Status of Legal Education in India:
After Independence, the situation changed completely. In 1950, we adopted a democratic form of government of which rule of law became the foundational doctrine. The Law Commission of India has taken preferable steps to widen the outreach of legal education, even to the remotest corners of our nation. Law colleges are given considerable importance and the criteria are fixed for the admission procedure.
New Challenges to Legal Education in India:
Previously, the main purpose of law schools and university of legal studies in India was not teaching of law as a branch of science and as a branch of learning but simply to impart to students knowledge merely of the black letter law; certain principles and provisions of law to enable them to enter the legal practice exclusively for local needs. Gradually this perception changed and the process of reform in law and legal education was initiated. As the world became a ‘global village’, the concept of ‘local practice’ widened to that of ‘transnational practice’.
Roscoe Pound pointed out that law transcended local and political limits and has become an economic necessity. In the present day, an innovative programme of integrated interdisciplinary legal learning and in the new areas such as comparative Law, information technology, intellectual property, corporate governance, human rights, environment, and international trade law, investment, and commerce, transfer of technology, alternative dispute resolution and space is important. Comparative legal education for professional excellence is needed in these and other areas on a global basis.
The law is the strength of our society and an essential medium of revolution. It is the only profession which deals with the society as a whole and its problems. Doctors deals with medical problems, engineers deals with technical problems, teachers deals with academic matters etc., but it is lawyers who deal with the entire society and its problems.
The Bar Council of India (BCI) is responsible for maintaining the standard and curriculum of legal education across law schools in India. The aim of law schools should be to identify the skills that define a lawyer and train them in such a manner that would satisfy the requirements of the legal fraternity and benefit the society.
About the Author:
She is a law student at The Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda School of Legal Studies, Vadodara. She holds a keen interest in social work. She has worked with Greenpeace India, Pune and has been a part of various social programmes such as Human Chain, Vibrant Safai Vadodara, etc.