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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Global Indian Education



THE Indian legal education system may witness big changes in the coming years. On one hand, while realising the importance of globalisation, law schools have called for making Indian legal education globally relevant. On the other, they are planning to introduce changes to the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) to select students who have the skills to become international lawyers.
These plans were announced at seminars organised in Hyderabad and Delhi recently by US-based Institute of International Education (IIE), an international exchange organisation. The seminars brought together the US Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and the National Law Schools (NLS) of India. “Expansion in business across the world has generated a need for lawyers who are global in their approach. Legal education has to play a big role in creating such lawyers. We at our organisation believe in international exchange of ideas so we thought to facilitate exchange of ideas,” said Ajit Motwani, director, IIE India.


Entrance examinations are an important parameter to select the right candidate. And while CLAT is only a year old, LSAC has the experience of holding Law School Admission Test (LSAT) across US, Australia and Canada for nearly 60 years.
Veer Singh, vice-chancellor of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, will be the convenor of CLAT 2009. Singh, while elaborating on the plans to introduce changes in the exam, said, “Approximately 1.5 lakh aspirants from three different countries take LSAT. They have proved their credibility in terms of fairness of content, testing candidate on logical and verbal reasoning and language comprehension. So, we want to learn from them the things that can make CLAT more reliable.”
When asked about the feasibility of applying a US testing method in India, Singh said, “We will not be replicating the LSAT, since CLAT 2008 had its own peculiar problems like local, gender and caste reservations. Besides, some take it online and some don't. So, we will consider all these factors before reaching any conclusion.”


Elaborating on the universal approach of LSAT in selecting candidates, Daniel Bernstine, president, LSAC, said: “We have to remember that the exam is not about law. It is conducted to test a student's ability to work as a lawyer. So, we provide equal playing fields to students from different disciplines." Ellen Rutt, chair, LSAC, added: "The exam is designed in the US, but it is taken by students from various countries. It can effectively judge the critical thinking and reasoning ability of a student regardless of him/her sitting in Nairobi or New Delhi.”


Once the right candidates have been selected, the focus shifts towards imparting quality education. So, those present at the Delhi seminar made suggestions on improving the legal education system in the country. “We require a new breed of schools that will be able to handle global issues such as climate change, arbitration, mergers and acquisitions. Hence, it is important to initiate dialogue with other countries. And since the US is also a democracy, we can learn a lot from them,” said Moolchand Sharma, eminent law professor, and vicechairman, University Grants Commission (UGC).
Elaborating on the required changes, Dalveer Bhandari, judge, Supreme Court, said: “Considering the sheer number of global law firms that have set up shop in India in the past 10 years, there is an urgent need for truly global legal education. We also need to have a special fleet of lawyers who can represent India in the World Trade Organisation. The Bar Council of India is doing very little in this regard. The council should also consider a fiveyear law course where faculty could consist of accomplished lawyers and researchers.”
Bhandari also felt that the country needed clinical legal education so that students could get real life dealing in courts and with clients. On the other hand, Ranbir Singh, vicechancellor, NLS-Delhi, said: “We will be local in our thinking but the focus would be to create lawyers who can relate to the global situation. Hence, our vision is to increase interaction between our law school and others worldwide.”

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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