Calling for a “comprehensive and wide-ranging review” of the legal education system, Union Minister for Law and Justice Veerappa Moily said on Sunday that expansion, inclusion and pursuit of excellence should form the three pillars of the second generation of legal education reforms.
Mr. Moily was speaking at the 18th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) here. He gave away gold medals and awards to meritorious among the graduating batch of 435 graduate, postgraduate and diploma students. Niranjan V. stood first with 12 gold medals, Eashan Ghosh bagged six medals and Shantanu Naravane took home two gold medals in various categories.
All three toppers are headed towards Oxford University where they will pursue Masters' courses in law. Niranjan was also chosen for the prestigious Cecil Rhodes Scholarship.
Commending the NLSIU for making a mark worldwide, Mr. Moily said that now it was time to look beyond mere establishment of National Law Schools.
“The need is to weed out mediocrity and inefficiency from our legal education system through dramatic reform.”
Pointing out that there are “shining examples” at NLSIU where the son of a bonded labourer was able to “break away from the vicious cycle of poverty and social exclusion” by graduating from this prestigious law school, Mr. Moily said that in several leading U.S. law schools, “inclusion and diversity had ensured that the underprivileged had sufficient representation in the legal profession.”
“Currently, it is a fact that a few of our law schools practice inclusion and diversity… Including lawyers from disenfranchised communities will enhance the potential for a representative democracy,” he said. Exhorting the young graduates to act as “agents of social change,” Mr. Moily said that they had a creative and crucial role to play in facilitating development and creation of a just and egalitarian society. For this, he recommended a curriculum reform that would teach students the importance of rendering public services, legal aid and pro bono work, and energising existing legal services clinics.
The Union Minister said the key agenda should be to attract young and energetic law teachers. He stressed the need for cutting-edge legal research that could catalyse law reform and development.
Centres of excellence
Mr. Moily proposed the establishment of four centres of excellence for research and improving faculty skills, setting up of National Law University in every State and creation of an online National Law library.