Technology and Legal Education are inextricable entities as they cannot be separated if the motive behind the formulation of laws is to administer justice. The new world revolves around the need of technology as a tool for intensifying every attempt to deliver complete and transparent dispensation of fairness in the Legal field.
“A lawyer is able to contribute to national development and social change in a very constructive manner with his legal education.”
What is legal education?
Legal education is the education of individuals in the principles, practices and theory of law which enables them to enter and make progress in the legal profession. In India, the stages of legal education may be bifurcated as:
- Academic legal education
- Continuing legal education
Academic legal education: It may be studied at law colleges and universities through various under-graduation and post-graduation programs.
Continuing legal education: It does not lead to any qualifications but provides practising lawyers with updates in recent legal developments.
Technology and Education
The Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary offers a definition of the term, ‘Technology’: “It is the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems”. Technology includes all tools, machines, utensils, weapons, instruments, communicating and transporting devices.
The modern technologies like the Internet have transformed and expanded our access to Global Information and Knowledge. The availability of such technologies brings unlimited opportunities and threats along with it.
There are two topics to be focused upon when we talk about the relation between technology and education:
- Educational technology
- Technology education
Both of these terms are playing a vital role in the development of modern legal education.
Educational technology revolves around the use of technology in and for education. Recently, during this corona period, it has played a very important role in students’ lives. Educational technologies like the internet and video conferencing applications helped students to continue their studies from home.
Even a pandemic couldn’t prevent us from learning. Educational technology has increased the pace of learning of the students by providing instant sources of information.
Today, law students also can easily get online teachings and online study materials through websites such as Legal Bites, Indian kanoon, etc. Moot Courts are being organized online. Students are able to seek guidance from lawyers and judges through webinars and interviews.
They are publishing their articles on such platforms and participating in different competitions without even investing any time into travelling. From scanning documents to using case management tools, basic useful technology taught in law school curriculum can go a long way for law students.
All these things have provided great exposure to the students and also shaped their personalities. So, it will not be wrong to say that technology has become a necessity for legal education today.
Technology education is the study of technology. The education of law is not adequate to keep cyberspace in the protected palm of the law. Thus, the study of technology is equally important to frame laws regarding the uses and misuses of such technologies.
While the technologies are developing day by day, new crimes are also flourishing with it and it is necessary to keep an eye upon it before any tragedy may occur. It also helps to frame laws and in deciding punishments for related crimes.
How Technology may affect/enhance the quality of legal education?
“The scheme of legal education should be such as would make the students socially conscious lawyers when they go out of the portals of the law universities. Law Colleges should not prepare them to sit in air-conditioned offices, but to serve as a social asset.”- Manupatra
Following are some of the main objectives of the legal education system:
- Knowledge: to equip the law students with sufficient knowledge of the historical and sociological background of the country’s legal system; operative substantive and procedural laws of the Nation; International laws and other legal systems.
- Exploration: to provide a platform where legal scholars can contribute to enhance in-depth understanding of the law and explore vacuum areas of law where the law is needed to be modified.
- Public Security: legal education is undoubtedly important to secure the natural justice and the basic laws of the country, but to ensure the complete public security in the modern world, the law students & professionals must be provided with the knowledge of latest developments in the technologies and other developing areas; so they can be able to recognize the future possibilities of misuses and legal requirements for prevention of such misuses.
- National security & International relations: A State is required to follow some international norms while dealing with the other States in order to maintain peace in the world. Hence, a legal education system needs to provide education regarding such international laws as well.
- National prosperity: Education is the foundation of the legal system of the country which leads to the procurement of justice and ultimately it leads to the National prosperity.
Impact of Technology
Technology proficiency is recognized as a competency for lawyers, they stand a better chance of getting hired by a decent law firm. Traditional ways of hiring will slowly be replaced by those law graduates who are familiar with the technological tools used in law practice for lawyers.
Effective use of technology means new clients, stronger work product, and more efficient use of time; for law students, it means better job prospects and a smoother transition into practice. Technology is truly transforming the practice of law.
Suggestions for the use of technology in legal education
The classic ingredients of legal training consist of qualified faculty, dedicated students, research centres, sound infrastructure and update legal literature; that is demanded by the new world paradigm.
Legal education in India is regulated by the bar council of India, a statutory body established under Section 4 of the Advocates Act, 1961. Any institution imparting legal education in India must be approved by the Bar Council of India. Thus, the Bar should keep ensuring the high standards of the legal education adopted by such institutions and issuing the guidelines from time to time for the changes and modifications required in the legal education system.
Following are some suggestions for the use of technology in the development of legal education:
- Hiring more qualified faculty: The basis for improving the quality of the entire education is the level of proficiency of the teaching staff of universities.
- Selection and development of educational material is one of the crucial requirements of the Indian legal education system today. In today’s competitive environment, whether it is sports; entertainment; technologies or trade everything is developing at a high speed; but the laws in India are still not developing at the equal pace with these other areas. It is required to strengthen the modification and addition of new courses into legal education according to the requirements of the modern era.
- New methods of teaching: The possibility of incorporating technological skills into the law school curriculum has revealed a lack of technologically savvy law graduates. Hence, it is important to teach the students about the technologies, used by the lawyers in their practical life, during graduation. Such technologies include a variety of tools like case management software, research databases, website design, and policies on client communication to help manage client and case information.
- Better Infrastructure: The libraries, computer labs, campus, auditorium for gatherings and seminars, sound classrooms with latest technologies for presentations etc. are essentials for a good infrastructure of a college and must be upgraded from time to time.
- Opening research centres: Due to privatization and globalization, there is an immediate need to conduct in-depth research into the subjects like Intellectual Property Rights, Cyber Law, Transnational Crimes, International Human Rights, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and International Business Transactions.
- Sponsoring more international academic programs with global connections, and augmenting the number of formal international linkages.
- Improving the standard of the legal profession: “I’m not really quite sure how much law school even prepared me for being an attorney.” An education system fails when a student uses these words for it. Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality of Indian legal education system. A fresh graduate has to work even without getting paid in his/her starting years into the profession; due to lack of practical knowledge; which is completely different from academic knowledge. It is the time to bring a new system which will be able to teach the students about the working of real courts, so that, it gets easier for students to have jobs after their graduation.
In the modern era, technology and the legal education system, both are inseparable elements. It is true that our education system should provide us with the knowledge of the latest technologies, but as being a citizen of India we are also required to develop the keenness for learning new skills and to serve our nation by using our full potential.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” -Abraham Lincoln.
Legal profession is rewarding for those who dedicate themselves to the profession as it brings very much wealth and prestige with it and when a lawyer is updated about the latest technologies, it works as a desirable enhancement to cater the needs of a developing society.
Authored by: Komal Harsh
University Three Year Law College, University of Rajasthan