Where Did We Come from? Where Do We Go? An Enquiry into the Students and Systems of Legal Education in India


The face of post-independent Indian legal education has altered dramatically since the inception (and consequent replication) of the five-year national law school model. Whereas traditional Indian universities offered (and in some cases continue to offer) law as a three-year full or part-time graduate programme, the new national law schools have sought to foster, through an intensive five-year model, a combined degree in law and the arts with a strong commitment to improve existing legal infrastructure. But more than twenty years after the Bar Council of India started the first law school dedicated to the multidisciplinary, socially influential teaching of law, now is the time perhaps for retrospection and analysis. What was the initial impetus that fostered the need for these law schools? And more importantly, have the schools met the ambitions that encouraged their consciously rushed growth? By (a) tracing the events that led to the inception of these schools, (b) locating their historical impetus and functional direction, (c) understanding the differentiated role of the national law school and (d) reviewing its limitations within the larger Indian higher education landscape, this article seeks to answer these larger questions as well as analyse critically the steps that are needed to regain sustainable momentum in the movement towards a socially culpable and intellectually relevant legal education – is it time for another inquiry?

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