Revising the Ways We Impart Legal Education: The Need of the Hour

In many ways, the generation gap that has befallen over the last ten years is as void as space. Manners have been altered; cultures and civilizations once cherished, abandoned and so are the life styles (all hail science and technology). Gone are the days when it was hard and in fact dreadful to stray from trivial conventions; shunning them was considered a sin. The customs which were once upheld and respected are now obsolete and some of them are even being condemned; the ways which were once prohibited are now admired and appreciated and finally the conducts which were once recommended and hence endorsed, are now rejected and opposed. To be brief, on the face of earth, in order to be classified in the category of ‘successful and triumphant’, one needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the changes that come one’s way. In the long run, such a drastic modification also stresses a direct alteration in the laws governing a precise region given that age and behaviors have been changed over time.

The era of terrorism and drone attacks demand a higher level of prudence than that of which was once vital for reverend advocates. Earning the reputation as an intelligent lawyer is challenging as compared to the past.  However, the irony is that despite living in the era of ‘connecting people’ and sub-keh-do (say whatever you’d like to), we are still stuck in the time when there is no other way to prove the accusation of rape other than four male witnesses and that too, qualifying the theory of ‘Tazkia-al-shahood’ (which bluntly falls short of practicality). Despite breathing in the age of women empowerment, we are jammed in the stage where it is still debated in the classrooms whether a female can be a judge or not.

Anybody who has ever been affiliated with law at any point in his/her life in whatever capacity, is bound to encounter the phrase ‘difference between theory and practice’. The expression is used so often that no one finds it attractive to bridge the gap. No wonder this is the sole reason behind the prerequisite of practice which consists of two years or so, for the one willing to appear in the exam of civil judge after graduation. The promoters remark that there is no thesis or research work to be done by a law scholar during the time when a person is still a student of what must be regarded as ‘the ocean of information’. Why shouldn’t it be a compulsory requirement to have some research work done to get such a prestigious degree? The mockery is, two precious years of life in the name of compulsory-practice-requirement are bargained in order to shun hard work.

Furthermore, in order to make a decent class of lawyers, it is highly recommended to introduce a revised course, and by ‘revised’, it is not denoted that the PPC (Pakistan Penal Code, 1860) needs to be amended or that the laws of contract need to be modified, but what it is actually referred to is to introduce up-to-date techniques to impart legal education. Environmental law, International Humanitarian law and subjects like Intellectual Property that the world is paying too much attention and responsiveness  to, have still not been brought together as they yearn for. A simple law graduate does not know much or even less of these unless he or she gets enrolled in a diploma or plans to continue studying LLM. Therefore, as to beat the needless delay in the decision of dispute by a court of law, an advocate must have the grip over solving the modern controversies of the latest times. As I believe, out of the many reasons behind the delayed justice, the incompetency of a lawyer so as to solve all the cloak-and-dagger stuff is more drastic than those of the others.

You’re a lawyer? Cool. But how about when people frequently mention to your face, ‘whoever fails to qualify in the admission in each and every possible field, law colleges come to aid for wretchedness.’  Experience proves this myth one way or another true (unless you are striving to get a five year degree soon after intermediate, rather than that of the three years program after graduation). So the tasteless irony is that the field that demands extra ordinary analytical skills and farsightedness, has to absorb the most stupid and disgusting class of citizens who resort to violence after being ‘equipped’ with the degree of law. Why not improve the eligibility criterion and make sure that the entry test does not merely comprise of general knowledge questions include those which indicates the leadership qualities and above all, interactive and research based teaching methodology, in order to avoid such state of affairs! But one must keep in mind that improving the quality of the entrance test to make law mooting compulsory is not going to do the trick unless and until the students are provided with highly qualified, experienced and trained instructors.

Retired judges, advocates and high profile law professionals must understand the need to take out some time to visit law colleges and train the young lawyers. Not for anything but to pay the debt they owe to their country as ultimately this little effort of theirs will one day benefit their homeland.

Last but not the least, there are ‘student exchange programs’ in almost all the countries of the world, but unfortunately, no such package has ever been introduced in Pakistan. These tours not only enlighten the exposure of the scholars but also benefit them to observe the dissimilarities between societal and cultural norms of different places. Hosting such programs will definitely do wonders.

To sum up, cheap and instant justice is the right of everyone born in this pure land of Pakistan and it has been denied and will continue to be so unless we train our lawyers in the best way possible, both ethically and professionally. The up roaring challenges of the law field call out for introducing new techniques and methodology to be introduced. Let’s hope for the policy makers to pay heed to this very issue that demands to be addressed as early as possible.

Anna Basset

Author: Anna Basset

Anna Bassett is a law student at Punjab University Law college Lahore and belongs to Toba Tek Singh.