Coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19 is the era’s most transformational event that has left unpredictable impact globally. While numerous sectors are undergoing drastic changes, legal education is no exception. Law schools, students, professors and the entire process have been impacted both ways.
The broader concept of legal education involves national and international laws, comprehensive research, intellectual learning, administration skills in diverse fields, etc. As we consider the positive effect of COVID-19 on legal education, it has compelled the Indian academia to go through some serious reckoning and re-imagination now. With people restricted to their homes, e-learning emerges as the best resort to continue law education.
- BCI’s Directive to All Law Education Institutes
In this country, legal education is regulated by the Bar Council of India or BCI. During complete nationwide lockdown in April 2020, it appealed to all law schools for resuming their classes but online. They have been asked to cover their syllabuses as much as feasible practically. Once the lockdown is withdrawn, the Bar Council of India has proposed institutions to conduct extra classes, clinical education and allied activities for comprehensive learning. They have also asked for detailed reports highlighting the actions taken according to their directive.
The BCI General Council considered legal education and its student’s overall interest when taking this decision in due consultation with the organisation’s Legal Education Committee. The apex body has also appreciated the commencement of online classes by National Law Universities and various Centres for Legal Education.
In early June, BCI released promotion guidelines of law students to the succeeding year. However, those in their final year were permitted to appear in online examinations or avail alternate methods as the concerned University deems appropriate.
Nevertheless, what was long an illusionary concept got implemented in breath-taking speed during an unanticipated occurrence like COVID-19. It has incited to reconsider the conventional mode of education and adopt innovative approaches, bringing digital learning to the centre-stage.
Need to Create Lucrative Opportunities within India
Another positive impact of coronavirus on legal education is that it compelled us to rethink more about our home country now. Till a few months back, most students preferred either a world-class legal degree from an international law institute or made it big with law firms outside India. Certainly, Indian lawyers’ accomplishments on global platforms are a matter of pride, but now is the time to consider their contributions in the domestic legal system’s development.
Indian law schools not only need to create lucrative opportunities but also provide pioneering contemporary education to future legal professionals. They can attain global standards by:
- introducing more of digital learning
- leveraging technology benefits
- creating a top-notch curriculum
- providing more of e-resources
- adding niche specializations and emerging courses
After all, COVID-19 is driving law into the digital arena, reshaping its long-drawn landscape.
Addressing the Shifting Trends – Reorienting Ourselves
If we look back, law schools have always maintained rigidity regarding innovation and technology within the classroom. However, the trends of legal education are already shifting ever since the pandemic scourged. Today, it is every law education institution’s responsibility to not just emphasise on e-learning but also take the entire experience online. Schools can run students’ societies, various events and competitions, debating clubs and even skill imparting activities which are significant to legal education, online.
Virtually teaching all that we think physically is largely possible. What matter here are robust e-learning approaches and mode of technology. Law schools adapting to and implementing these at a quicker speed can emerge as game changers and successfully provide out-of-the-box experiences. Amidst these, some schools have already taken proactive steps to make the e-learning experience smooth and hassle-free.
On the practical front, note that
- The Supreme Court of India is hearing some of its vital cases through the virtual medium.
- A few High Courts are also undergoing experiments to introduce technology for more accessibility of litigants to the judicial system.
As a positive, the coronavirus pandemic, hence, prompted India’s legal system for increased usage of technology. This can be further intensified if the following are implemented:
- Every court is equipped with the appropriate technology to facilitate the legal processing.
- More investment is allocated for technology up gradation to clear the pending cases faster.
- The entire legal system undergoes an overhaul, and the Indian Criminal and Civil Procedure Acts get major changes. The purpose is to empower the legal fraternity and judiciary with the knowledge of using technology and virtual medium.
- The litigant, without being physically present, actively participates in the court proceedings, views everything via virtual media and gets notified about daily ruling, date of hearing, etc.
- Introduction of technology calls for robust cyber security systems, preventing cyber threats.
Needlessly to say, adopting the shifting trends shall not only sail legal education through the coronavirus situation but also pave for a brighter future.
Increased Scope for Legal Professionals Today
The society has already experienced exponential growth since the 21st century beginning. It has opened immense opportunities, thus, amplifying the demand for legal professionals manifold. They play a crucial role in filling the exposed gaps in technology, economy, politics, trade, society and other fields. In addition, emerging branches such as cyber law, environmental law, intellectual property law, health care law, family law, sports law, etc. have developed global law practice in capability and number.
In addition, India has undergone comprehensive and rapid change in the practice of law over the previous 2 decades. Besides academic knowledge, globalisation and technological advancements today largely impact a lawyer’s success. They need to be prompt, specialised, tech-savvy and geographically diverse. To survive in a highly demanding and dynamic environment, several law colleges in India have introduced a host of skill development measures, including mediation, client counselling, client handling and conciliation courses.
Therefore, it’s high time that the education world taps into this scope through modified and strategic approaches.
Adamas University (AU) in Kolkata Accomplished the 1st Milestone!
In the context above, Adamas University’s endeavours and accomplishments are worth mentioning. The institution recently released a special manual report digitally on how AU combatted COVID-19. The report details how they have taken the prompt decision of suspending classes prioritising students’ safety in early March 2020. It also highlights their approach of changing learning, teaching and assessment rapidly during COVID-19. Adamas University is one of the prominent institutes, which remains uncompromised with the present situation. The authorities have created an Academic Plan abiding by all guidelines and protocols.
- 3500 students and 250 faculty members have positively responded to e-learning.
- The University has provided several webinars, e-journals or e-books to students.
- AU has also introduced digital internships and online training programmes for placed learners.
- The most noteworthy is their ‘Each One Reach One’ approach, where technology usage will be rampant.
Today, legal education stands on a highly transitional phase where law institutions can either embrace the change or tenaciously cling to traditional practices which are soon-to-be unfit for the evolving Indian market. With the appropriate choice made, law schools can unleash a world of opportunities for lawyers of the post-coronavirus era.
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