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Changes in Legal Education after New Education Policy 2020

High Standard Education: An Index of a Country

The prevalence of a high standard of education is the true index of the cultural level of a country. In a sense, it is a matter of national pride and prestige. It fixes intellectual standards. A nation meets the world not on the ordinary level of life but on the superior platform where new ideas can be aired and exchanged. After all, it is by its cultural attainments that a nation draws the attention and respect of the world. But there is something more to be said for it.
Today we are living in a complex society. The evolution of democratic institutions, the coming together of nations through politics, trade and business–these are among the factors that have complicated the general patterns of life all over the world. Every moment fresh adjustments have to be made, roads not taken have to be taken, new solutions have to be attempted; these all require a higher degree of knowledge in politics, economics, law, history, science, so on and so forth.

Specialization

The jack of all trades- type of man has gone out of vogue. He is a misfit in the modern world. Today, no man can boast encyclopedic learning however vast his scholarship might be. Each department of life must have its own trained specialists. Of course, specialization must begin after a course of general education has been satisfactorily completed. It is the apex of the pyramid. But it is not that simple as it sounds to be. Too early specialization or specialization after an imperfect general education lacks vitality and the power to devise or initiate. It is likely to work within a stereotyped framework. That is a defect, for a rigid mind cannot adapt itself with ease to complex needs. The stage at which specialization should begin and the nature and degree of specialization at different stages require much thought. The present view is that at the secondary stage of education, a broad estimate of intellectual capacities should not be impossible and the foundations for specialized training should now be fairly and truly laid. This will of course improve the quality and standard of education if it has to target a specialization.

Legal Education must reflect Socio-cultural Contexts

With reference to legal education, recently declared National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) clearly mentions that legal education in India needs to be competitive globally, adopting best practices and embracing new technologies for wider access to and timely delivery of justice. At the same time, it must be informed and illuminated with Constitutional values of Justice – Social, Economic, and Political – and directed towards national reconstruction through instrumentation of democracy, rule of law, and human rights. The NEP 2020 further says that the curricula for legal studies must reflect socio-cultural contexts along with, in an evidence-based manner, the history of legal thinking, principles of justice, the practice of jurisprudence, and other related content appropriately and adequately.

One Year LL.M Degree Program- A Game Changer

One of the steps in this regard taken in 2013 is worth mentioning. With the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission on the quality of legal education and research in the country for overhauling the system towards achieving academic and professional excellence, the University Grant Commission (UGC) appointed an Expert Committee in 2010 which later submitted a comprehensive report and the UGC promptly implemented One Year LL.M Degree course in India from academic session 2013-14. Since then, there is no looking back. Almost all the universities in India whether govt. or private except a very few are offering one-year LL.M Degree course.

Some Salient Features of New LL.M Program

One of the main features of one year LL.M. program is the establishment of a Centre for Post-Graduate Legal Studies (CPGLS) by the university/college mandated by the UGC which will have a dedicated team of senior teachers competent to guide post-graduate scholars including Ph.D. students. This decision of the UGC infused sudden excitement and newfound confidence among the scholars desiring to pursue postgraduate law programs in India.
A couple of other features of this program that attract most of the aspiring students especially working professionals and practicing lawyers are the reducing of the duration to one year without compromising anything to make the course rigorous in order to maintain academic quality and standards.
As per the UGC guidelines, the one year LL.M. program shall have 24 credits with three mandatory courses of 3 credits each (making a total of nine credits), six optional courses of 2 credits each (making a total of 12 credits) and a dissertation of 3-5 credits. Given the advanced nature of postgraduate studies and research in law and the need for proper supervision of PG students by senior faculty, the ratio of students admitted to LL.M. to the availability of Professors / Associate Professor should be not more than 5 students to one Professor / Associate Professor.

Course Structure/Curriculum:

The course structure/curriculum for One-Year LL.M shall have the following components:
Foundation/Compulsory Papers: The Foundation Courses consist of the following three subjects/papers:

  1. Research Methods and Legal Writing
  2. Comparative Public Law/Systems of Governance
  3. Law and Justice in a Globalizing World
  4. Optional/Specialization Papers

Dissertation: The dissertation shall carry a minimum of three and a maximum of five credits.

National Education Policy 2020 Part III

The recently published National Education Policy 2020 Part 3 highlights the immense importance of specialization which categorically mentions that the preparation of professionals must involve an education in the ethic and importance of public purpose, an education in the discipline, and an education for practice. It must centrally involve critical and interdisciplinary thinking, discussion, debate, research, and innovation. For this to be achieved, professional education should not take place in the isolation of one’s specialty.
It further emphasizes that professional education thus, becomes an integral part of the overall higher education system. Stand-alone agricultural universities, legal universities, health science universities, technical universities, and stand-alone institutions in other fields, shall aim to become multidisciplinary institutions offering holistic and multidisciplinary education. All institutions offering either professional or general education will aim to organically evolve into institutions/clusters offering both seamlessly and in an integrated manner by 2030. (Part 3- Page 50, NEP 2020)

Written By:- Dr. SK Bose, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Manav Rachna University

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