Advancing Frontiers of Legal Education through Technology
Dr Nachiketa Mittal
Aug 30, 2020
Education is a dynamic process which evolves and enables us to think beyond the traditional learning and established practices for work and create new things for the next generation. Legal education too has seen a long journey of evolution of far-reaching changes in organization, management, content and delivery. One of the fundamental objectives in this process is the fulfillment of constitutional mandate to build a social order based on democratic values, protection of human rights and strengthening the rule of law securing to all of its citizens justice, liberty, equality and dignity. First generation and second generation reforms led by the creation of the National Law Universities (NLUs) was indeed a turning point for Indian legal education, particularly with respect to academic excellence, social relevance and professional competence. However, a noticeable trend has generated a perception that despite bearing a public character, the NLUs have emerged as institutions only accessible to the elite sections of society. The admissions process, fee structures and other entry procedures followed is perceived as largely favouring the applicants from wealthy, urban and English-speaking background. We have twenty three (23) NLUs across the country which have been promoting their stature by presenting themselves above the average standards of legal education offered by other more than 1400 law colleges existing in India. However, the gaps in NLUs system of admitting students who can pay heavy fees and having limited seats, is not a long term and viable solution. In any event legal education is in need of a catharsis, which has to be led by a band of devoted teachers of law who teach out of a passion for public duty rather than money. Where are they? The concept of Virtual Law School (VLS) is an attempt to fill this gap. A team consisting of professors with rich exposure to quality legal education both in India and abroad have come together to revolutionize legal education by making it more accessible and at very affordable costs to everyone who dreams of becoming a lawyer. VLS is a commitment to serve the cause of access to legal education and our endeavour to discharge our social obligation and academic duty to the nation.
VLS is a teaching initiative to provide quality legal education to hundreds of law students who are not able to seek admission in leading law schools of the country due to financial, geographical or other barriers. Access to quality legal education shall not be restricted to few hundreds of students who are economically well off and can afford the fees of leading law schools which is usually around Rupees 2 lakhs/ year on a minimum side in most of the NLUs, or other standard private law schools. VLS therefore caters to all such students who may might not have gone to their dream law school but surely deserves to be taught by the best law teachers. Many like-minded academicians and lawyers are coming forward and donating their law teaching hours to VLS for the greater good of the students enrolled with VLS. We would continue to take legal education to the masses, as we look forward to collaborate with regulatory bodies in contributing for the cause of legal education.
The VLS, was electronically inaugurated on April 25, 2020by- Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.K. Sikri (Former Judge, Supreme Court of India), Hon’ble Mr. Justice Kurian Joseph (Former Judge, Supreme Court of India), Mr. P.K. Malhotra (Former Law Secretary, Govt. of India), Sr. Adv. Sidharth Luthra (Supreme Court of India), Mr. Rajiv Luthra (Managing Partner, L&L Partners Delhi), Prof. (Dr.) S. Shanthakumar (Vice-Chancellor, Gujarat National Law University), Prof. (Dr.) Manoj Kumar Sinha (Director, Indian Law Institute) and Prof. (Dr.) Yogesh Pratap Singh (Registrar, National Law University Odisha).
Leading Pro Bono teachers at VLS include- Justice A. K. Sikri (Constitutional Law & Mediation); Justice Kurian Joseph(Public Interest Litigation); Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anand Pathak(Cr.P.C).; Sr. Adv. Sidharth Luthra(Lectures on Bail); Prof. Yogesh Pratap Singh(Constitutional Law)Mr. Abhijeet Sinha, (Arbitration).
VLS has also conducted Guest Lectures by several senior members of the Indian Bar and leading Law Professors from India and USA. These include- Sr. Adv. Kapil Sibal; Sr. Adv. Salman Khurshid; Dr. Abhishek Singhvi, Sr. Adv.; Sr. Adv. Sidharth Luthra; Sr. Adv. Yatindra Singh (Former Chief Justice of High Court of Chhattisgarh); Adv. Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court of India; Prof. (Dr.) S. Shanthakumar, Vice-Chancellor of GNLU; Prof. Danixia Cuevas, Miami Dade College, USA and Prof. Davis Tushaus, Missouri State Western University, USA.
Virtual learning is the newest and most popular form of education today and since the last decade it has had a major impact on postsecondary education with an increasing trend. The Instructor’s role is changing from the “sage on the stage” to “the guide on the side.” We invite law students to join VLS for following reasons:
It offers more flexibility over a traditional classroom learning.
We deliver instruction to a geographically dispersed audience at one time.
Both the instructors and learners will have rich experience of collaborating with other learners and instructors from around the world.
It provides informal atmosphere of learning from the best legal minds for more creative interaction.
We strongly believe that technology is a medium that can take quality legal education from the elite and the classes to the masses and achieve literacy goals through technology based platforms.
Dr. Nachiketa Mittal is the Founder & Director of India’s first Virtual Law School. He has being serving as Dean In-charge of the Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University, Gandhinagar. He was also formerly a faculty of law in the National Law University, Odisha from 2011-2019. During his service at NLUO, he was invited by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India to the Supreme Court of India as Assistant Registrar (Research) on deputation to assist the Chief Justice of India in research and planning in the Supreme Court. He served on this position from February 2016 till October 2018. Prior thereto, he completed his PhD from NLUO and his LLM from the NLSIU. Dr Mittal is regularly invited to speak at conferences in Indian and foreign universities. It is his rich exposure that he is putting to use in advancing the cause of the legal education through the online mode.