गृहपृष्ठसंविधानसंसदसमाजस्तम्भसुरक्षासंसारसंवादसमिक्षासर्वोच्च अदालतसम्पादकीयEnglish

Rethinking of teaching law in Nepal

It is only taught what a lawyer should know but it is not taught what a lawyer ought to do.
न्यायपालिका
२०७७-०६-०७

nyayapalika.com

Adv. Rajendra Bahadur Singh 

Rethinking of teaching law in Nepal 

Law graduates are supposed to be equipped with the basic skills and knowledge on the procedures of judicial administration and legal drafting with the completion of their graduate-level but, they are found having some superficial theoretical knowledge on the legal studies and scant of competencies required for law practice.They acquire those skills only after they joined in the law firm for few years. It has been apparent seeing law graduates have to rely on the law firms to gain the basic skills and competencies before they start to involve in law practice on their own.Therefore,it is obligatory for them to join in law/training firms after their law graduation from the university. It is the common fate of the law graduates in the country. 

Here is therefore, a deep-rooted assumption has been developed in the field of law practice in the country: a law graduate can only be a stable law practitioner when s/he pass through many years of hardships and struggles working at law firm.It seems, it is true, as well.Why is it so happening even if the universities are offering the courses like Moot-court, Lawyering Skills, Legal Drafting, Procedural Law, Interpretation of Statutes, Internship, etc.? Why do law graduates have to pass through many years to be a law practitioner? Why do graduates cannot acquire the minimum competencies to join the law practice with their law graduation? Whereas, universities law curricula have set the prime objective to ‘produce the human resources equipped with legal skills, competencies, and attitude to prepare legal scholars, jurists and academicians for the professions of law teaching, legal research, judicial and government services, and consultations for public and private enterprises.’  

Of course, there could be numerous reasons that keep law graduates aside from acquiring the skills required for the law practice. Amongmany, an apparent reason is the ways (methods) law students are being exposed to the teaching-learning environments at the universities, is responsible. Theconventional teaching-learning methods are being used hindering to develop the skills and competencies of the law graduates rather than the facilitation to cope up with the changed context of the legal studies.  

The concept of law and function of law has drastically changed. In the past,the function of law was to dispense justice in a narrower sense and the job of the lawyers was to represent the plaintiffs into the court of laws. Few decades from now, most of the law graduates used to join in the government services. The remaining ones used to engage as litigant lawyers in the private law firms. In the present days, we seek the law not only to get justice but also for social transformation, equality and sustainable development. Therefore, the jobs and scopes of the lawyers have also changed. A lawyer has multiple roles and jobs have to take in different human spheres. They have plenty of options to choose for their career. But, unfortunately, the students of law who should be devised and modelled with the help of the pedagogy and andragogy to the changed roles and jobs of the lawyers according to the changed context have not changed yet. The teaching-learning methods that were used in the decades ago have remained intact in teaching law today. 

Legal education is the skills and vocational course. By having the skills and vocational course, different skills have to impart to the law students. Not employing the different kinds of teaching methods and approaches, different kinds of lawyering skills and competencies could not be developed into the law students. Lecture as a teaching method is widely dominant in law teaching. It cannot be expected to develop required competencies to the prospective lawyers by using the lecture method only. The modern innovations and ICTs developedin andragogy can provide wider exposures to the law students. Law and ICTs are being embedded although the ICTs and modern innovations are rarely being used in teaching law. 

Most of the law teachers are from the non-pedagogical academic background. There is not any mandatory provision of having the pedagogical knowledge or training requirement to teach law students. The orientation-induction seminar, workshop, and refreshers training program focus on the domain of knowledge in the legal studies. The pedagogical parts are rarely included in. Neither is there a formal institution to provide the training on teaching law from where law teachers can gain teaching skills. 

It is only taught what a lawyer should know but it is not taught what a lawyer ought to do.It is taught the domain of knowledge under the legal studies but the skills and attitudes which are associated with the legal professions are overlooked. Most importantly, the attitudes that are required to succeed in the legal professions are rarely taken into consideration while teaching. The formal teaching overlooks the development of the knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes required for the legal professions. The mere focus is being made upon the theoretical aspects of the legal studies. 

We do not have the institutional mechanism to ensure whether the law teachers are appropriately and adequately trained. The law teachers are frequently participating in the advanced research training, refreshers training, and orientation programs. These programs heavily focus on the substantive elements of law rather than teaching methods. The training modules do not include the development and design of the curriculum, syllabus, and textbooks. Equally, they do not go around on how to assess law students. Contents such as the philosophical foundation of teaching, learning theories, and andragogy remain absent in such training modules. 

There is no mandatory provision that law teachers should be trained on methods of teaching skills. And, there is not any formal institution from where they can acquire the teaching skills. We never test them whether they possess the skills of designing curriculum, the different teaching methods they can employ in teaching the law students; how they will teach and assess the students is not tested in the recruitment process. We test them only on the basis of their substantive knowledge of law. Such teachers go directly into the class and start teaching. 

It does not mean that the formal training on teaching can only make a teacher effective and efficient. A self-help law teacher can also be a good teacher on the ways of imparting skills and knowledge to the students. But, they are only exceptions. Still, there are great and skillful law teachers. They have possessed the methods of teaching not by training but by trial and error. They have a deep passion to be a good law teacher. They kept on improving themselves. On some casual informal occasions, they pass their skills on their young colleague on how to be a good law teacher. 

Many university courses have been started to be taught providing wider exposures through exploiting the modern advanced ICTs.There are also being used the methods of instructions found widely established, accepted, and effective. Whereas, the schools of law under the different universities of ours recourse on the case law and lecture method which were developed centuries ago in Europe. Professional education like law ought to be skill oriented. Imparting skill requires skills. 

Nepal’s connectedness with the international community is increasing in many respects. Nepal has established itself as an active member of the various international communities. By being one of the active members, it has to deal with international issues and concerns. To defend or represent the country and society effectively, it needs the best legal professionals and diplomats. For this dire ends, the conventional teaching methods of laws must be replaced with the modern innovations emerged in pedagogy and andragogy so that the competent professionals are produced. 

Here is therefore, a deep-rooted assumption has been developed in the field of law practice in the country: a law graduate can only be a stable law practitioner when s/he pass through many years of hardships and struggles working at law firm.It seems, it is true, as well.Why is it so happening even if the universities are offering the courses like Moot-court, Lawyering Skills, Legal Drafting, Procedural Law, Interpretation of Statutes, Internship, etc.? Why do law graduates have to pass through many years to be a law practitioner? Why do graduates cannot acquire the minimum competencies to join the law practice with their law graduation? Whereas, universities law curricula have set the prime objective to ‘produce the human resources equipped with legal skills, competencies, and attitude to prepare legal scholars, jurists and academicians for the professions of law teaching, legal research, judicial and government services, and consultations for public and private enterprises.’  

Of course, there could be numerous reasons that keeplaw graduatesaside of acquiring the skills required for the law practice. Amongmany, anapparentreason is the ways (methods) law students are being exposed to the teaching-learning environments at the universities, is responsible. Theconventional teaching-learning methods are being used hindering to develop the skills and competencies of the law graduates rather than the facilitation to cope up with the changed context of the legal studies.  

The concept of law and function of law has drastically changed. In the past,the function of law was to dispense the justice in narrower sense and the job of the lawyers was to represent the plaintiffs into the court of laws. Few decades from now, most ofthe law graduatesused to join in the government services. The remaining ones used to engage as litigant lawyer in the private law firms. In the present days, we seek the law not only to get the justice but also for social transformation, equality and sustainable development. Therefore, the jobs and scopes of the lawyers have also changed. A lawyer have multiples roles and jobs have to take in different human spheres. They have plenty of options to choose for their career. But, unfortunately, the students of law who should be devised and modelled with the help of the pedagogy and andragogy to the changed roles and jobs of the lawyersaccording to the changed context have not changed yet. The teaching-learning methods that were used in the decades ago have remained intact in teaching law today. 

The legal education is the skills and vocational course. By being the skills and vocational course, different skills have to impart to the law students. Not employing the different kind of teaching methods and approaches, different kinds of lawyering skills and competencies could not be developed into the law students. Lecture as a teaching method is widely dominant in law teaching. It cannot be expected to develop required competencies to the prospective lawyers by using thelecture method only. The modern innovations and ICTs developedin andragogy can provide the wider exposures to the law students. Law and ICTs are being embedded althoughthe ICTs and modern innovations are rarely being used in teaching law. 

Most of the law teachers are from the non-pedagogical academic background. There is not any mandatory provision of having the pedagogical knowledge or training requirement to teach law students. The orientation-induction seminar, workshop, and refreshers training program focus on the domain of knowledge in the legal studies. The pedagogical parts are rarely included in. Neither there is formal institution to provide the training on teaching law from where law teachers can gain teaching skills. 

It is only taught what a lawyer should know but it is not taught what a lawyer ought to do.It is taught the domain of knowledge under the legal studies but the skills and attitudes which are associated with the legal professions are overlooked. Most importantly, the attitudes that required to succeed in the legal professions are rarely taken into consideration while teaching. The formal teaching overlook to develop the knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes required for the legal professions. The mere focus is being made upon the theoretical aspects of the legal studies. 

We do not have the institutional mechanism to ensure whether the law teachers are appropriately and adequately trained. The law teachers are frequently participating in the advanced research training, refreshers trainings, and orientation programs. These programs heavily focus on the substantive elements of law rather than teaching methods. The trainings modules do not include the development and design of the curriculum, syllabus, and textbooks. Equally, they do not go around on how to assess law students. Contents such as philosophical foundation of teaching, learning theories, and andragogy remain absent in such training modules. 

There is not mandatory provision that law teachers should be trained on methods of teaching skills. And, there is not any formal institution from where they can acquire the teaching skills. We never test them whether they possess the skills of designing of curriculum, the different teaching methods they can employ in teaching the law students; how will they teach and assess the students is not tested in the recruitment process. We test them only on the basis of their substantive knowledge of law. Such teachers are directly go into the class and start teaching. 

It does not mean that the formal training on teaching can only make a teacher effective and efficient. A self-help law teacher can also be a good teacher on the ways of imparting skills and knowledgeto the students. But, they are only exception. Still, there are great and skillful law teachers. They have possessed the methods of teaching not by training but by trial and error. They have deep passion to be a good law teacher. They kept on improving themselves. On some casual informal occasions, they pass their skills on their young colleague on how to be a good law teacher. 

Many university courses have been started to be taught providing wider exposures through exploiting the modern advanced ICTs.There are also being used the methods of instructions found widely established, accepted, and effective. Whereas, the schools of lawunder the different universities of ours recourse on the case law and lecture method which were developed centuries ago in Europe. Professional education like law ought to be skill oriented. Imparting skill requires skills. 

Nepal’s connectedness with the international community is increasing in many respects. Nepal has established as an active member of the various international communities. By being one of the active members, it has to deal with international issues and concerns. To defend or represent the country and society effectively, it needs of the best legal professionalsand diplomats. For this dire ends, the conventional teaching methods of laws must be replaced with the modern innovations emerged in the pedagogy and andragogy so that the competent professionals are produced. 

(Author Rajendra Bahadur Singh is Advocate. )

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मुख्य शब्द:
Rajendra Bahadur Singh
टिप्पणी
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