Legal Education And Its Dilemma
It has been two years since I have been part of the legal education system in Karachi. I am frequently asked questions like: how can I become a good lawyer? Is my education sufficient to become a good lawyer? Will my studies make me a good lawyer and can this profession give me a good salary in the future?
Generally my answer is that there are no shortcuts and you have to work hard in order to become successful in this profession. But I have realized that students are mainly dissatisfied with the belief that the education in which they are investing their time will not give them a prosperous future. This is further fueled by a common perception in law colleges that the theory and practice of law are two different things.
Considering all these notions that we are surrounded by and the recent updates to legal education in Pakistan, there are two recommendations that should be added. Firstly, legal clinics should be incorporated into our curriculum as they provide the best opportunity to learn how to deal with the clients. Unfortunately, the legal system in Pakistan does not focus on the client at all.
Law schools mostly focus on mooting, which is based on advocacy skills. These moot court sessions help you practice advocacy and how to present your case to a judge. According to me, this is the second stage of a lawyer. The first stage is knowing how to deal with your client. Our law colleges do not give any training on how to talk to the client. There are different ways to talk to clients, for example you would speak to a corporate client in one manner but you would speak to a rape victim very differently.
Incorporating legal clinics into our education system will help develop client sensitivity and boost legal education to a higher level. Obviously, the process and requirements for obtaining a licence to practice law are already in place, but our system will surely benefit more from these additions.
With the high fees charged by law schools, it is their responsibility to incorporate clinics to help students develop certain skill-sets.
The next recommendation is to engage final year law students with the prosecution department and police. This can be done through internship opportunities and should be added as a mandatory coursework requirement to ensure compliance.
As a law teacher I feel that these two things are essential for law students. These ideas are not completely new as students completing their BBA and MBA have been building such skills throughout their degrees. Law students on the other hand have not been given such opportunities. These changes will help law students understand who their target audience is and how to best build a career that is suitable to their interests.
I believe our legal education completely ignores these two areas. By incorporating these two recommendations within our resources we can make legal education a worthwhile degree in Pakistan as well.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CourtingTheLaw.com or any other organization with which she might be associated.