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Impact of COVID-19 pandemic upon Legal Education

 

Its been nearly two months of this Global pandemic COVID-19 after which almost every educational institutions of the world are currently shut-down. Exams are getting postponed; students are not able to continue their regular studies, and everyone is forced to leave their traditional way of learning. But like ‘every glitter is not gold’ imposition of online learning can provide little to no help to some students. As it is practically not possible for them to replace traditional learning with online learning. Among these students, are the students who are studying law are some of the worst affected. As the law degree is one of the most expensive degrees in India where top colleges charge lakhs of rupees from students per year. At the same time, the law degree requires a law school to give more practical exposure to the students than mere bookish knowledge, as the students who are studying law currently will be in courtrooms as soon as they graduate. However, in the present times when most of the courts in India are functioning with limited capacity allowing hearings only for the cases of most importance, it becomes extremely difficult for a law student to gain the practical exposure. 

Steps taken in Indian Legal Education against Covid-19.

In India, legal education is governed by the rules framed by the Bar Council of India and uniformly followed throughout entire India. When the law colleges were forced to closed along with other colleges due to COVID-19 pandemic the Bar Council of India have set up guidelines for the colleges to start taking online classes for both clinical activities and normal classes so that loss of academic activities could be recovered. 

Keeping in line with these guidelines much of the prominent law school in India and most of the National Law Universities have started conducting their classes online with proper teaching material and teacher training program to conduct their classes online. While at the same time there are hundreds of other law schools in India which are located in tier two and tier three cities which do not have the required facilities to conduct online classes and neither their teacher were well versed with the modern technologies to conduct classes online. Also, the students who are studying in these law school of tier 2 and tier 3 cities might not be economically capable to bear the cost to online education as online education applications require a high-speed Internet connection which might not be available in those small towns and cities and can be very costly considering the number of online classes which a student needs to attend every day. 

Hindrance in skill-based education. 

The legal profession is a sector which requires skill and the person involved in this sector must always be ready to learn and develop their skills. Therefore, which the students who are involved in legal education try to gain such form of knowledge and skill since the beginning of their law school. A law student also needs to undergo many Internship as a requirement set up by the Bar Council of India to fulfil the requirements to pass the LL.B course. These internships could be done under an Advocate, under a Judge, with an NGO, under the legal office of a company, etc.

However, since most of these institutions are currently closed or are working with a limited number. It becomes difficult for a law student to develop their skill by working under an expert in the legal profession as most of their offices are currently closed for Interns, as a result of which some students might not complete their required number Internship which is necessary for their LL.B course. Thus, increasing the risk of a law student who might have to enter the legal profession without getting the proper opportunity to develop his/her professional skills. 

Steps taken in the Education Sector around the World to fight Covid-19.

Currently, there might be not a single country who is not affected by the Pandemic Covid-19, and almost every college around the world is affected by the Pandemic. Putting millions of student’s face an uncertain future. In response to it, some International Organization such as Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie(AUF) has launched an international call for the project to support initiatives from students and researchers which is linked to the pandemic. A fund of 500,000 euros is dedicated to the project.

While at the same time, Institute of International Students Fund has created an IIE’s Emergency Student Fund (ESF) for the IIE member of United States to help international student’s who are not able to return to their home countries. 

In the United States of America, the American Council on Education (ACE) has called for extended student loan relief on behalf of more than 30 higher education institution. The student loans are currently suspended for six-month interest-free through the CARES Act. At the same time in Canada, it has planned to cut the education fees by 30%. 

A ray of hope. 

Although online learning is taking its shape after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. But long before the outbreak several private institutions have developed their courses upon legal learning, helping many students to learn from the experts in the profession. Many reputed Universities in India like the West Bengal National Law University and Gujrat National Law University have even earlier collaborated with the institutions to provide legal education online. If required on a collaborative effort from both the governments and private institution these experienced private institutions can help the government law colleges and other private colleges to reach the students in a better and most cost-effective way. 

None the less, it must be admired that mIts been nearly two months of this Global pandemic COVID-19 after which almost every educational institutions of the world are currently shut-down. Exams are getting postponed; students are not able to continue their regular studies, and everyone is forced to leave their traditional way of learning. But like ‘every glitter is not gold’ imposition of online learning can provide little to no help to some students. As it is practically not possible for them to replace traditional learning with online learning. Among these students, are the students who are studying law are some of the worst affected. As the law degree is one of the most expensive degrees in India where top colleges charge lakhs of rupees from students per year. At the same time, the law degree requires a law school to give more practical exposure to the students than mere bookish knowledge, as the students who are studying law currently will be in courtrooms as soon as they graduate. However, in the present times when most of the courts in India are functioning with limited capacity allowing hearings only for the cases of most importance, it becomes extremely difficult for a law student to gain the practical exposure. 

Steps taken in Indian Legal Education against Covid-19.

In India, legal education is governed by the rules framed by the Bar Council of India and uniformly followed throughout entire India. When the law colleges were forced to closed along with other colleges due to COVID-19 pandemic the Bar Council of India have set up guidelines for the colleges to start taking online classes for both clinical activities and normal classes so that loss of academic activities could be recovered. 

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Keeping in line with these guidelines much of the prominent law school in India and most of the National Law Universities have started conducting their classes online with proper teaching material and teacher training program to conduct their classes online. While at the same time there are hundreds of other law schools in India which are located in tier two and tier three cities which do not have the required facilities to conduct online classes and neither their teacher were well versed with the modern technologies to conduct classes online. Also, the students who are studying in these law school of tier 2 and tier 3 cities might not be economically capable to bear the cost to online education as online education applications require a high-speed Internet connection which might not be available in those small towns and cities and can be very costly considering the number of online classes which a student needs to attend every day. 

Hindrance in skill-based education. 

The legal profession is a sector which requires skill and the person involved in this sector must always be ready to learn and develop their skills. Therefore, which the students who are involved in legal education try to gain such form of knowledge and skill since the beginning of their law school. A law student also needs to undergo many Internship as a requirement set up by the Bar Council of India to fulfil theany reputed law Schools in India such as the Jindal Law School, Symbiosis Law College, and private parties like Live Law and Lawctopus who are constantly providing free webinars for law students. While the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana High Court is also providing some high-quality webinars for both young lawyers and law student free of cost. Thus, these interactions between student’s, senior Advocates, Judges and other industry professionals can help both the students and young lawyers to learn the tricks and challenges which they might require to face after the completion of their LL.B degree.

Written by-

SYED BADRUL ASHAD

(Social Activist) 

Mail ID-  [email protected]

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