Futuristic Legal Education Through Legal Aid And Law Awareness

Legal literacy can be achieved only when people receive legal aid and have legal awareness.

Law and its language have always been very complex and ambiguous for the layman to understand and decipher. People other than legal professionals are also not expected to know the law in detail and to the precision, but some amount of basic knowledge is a prerequisite. This is called legal literacy or legal consciousness – the ability to understand, interpret, communicate and use legal information.  

Why legal literacy is important? 

The lack of legal literacy combined with inadequacy and ambiguity of legal policies and the overall judicial system results in inevitable delays and miscarriage of justice. If people have easy access to legal help and basic awareness of the law, they can understand legal rights, processes and proceedings to a fair extent and seek right justice for themselves. 

Legal literacy can be achieved only when people receive legal aid and have legal awareness.  

How to provide legal aid and create legal awareness?

The directive of National Legal Services Authority of India requires the concerned legal authorities or committees to provide free legal services about civil and criminal matters for the weaker section of society who are unable to afford a lawyer. The directive also includes organizing Lok Adalats for the mutual settlement of disputes.  

These services are available at both state and central level legal authorities. However, there is also a need to incorporate the importance of legal aid and legal awareness at the educational level and sensitize future law aspirants and professionals. This calls for active participation from law schools by incorporating it in their curriculum. 

What is the importance of legal aid and awareness as a part of the curriculum? 

When legal aid and legal awareness is mandated in the curriculum of law schools, it fulfils multiple purposes simultaneously: 

Imparts practical knowledge to students and allows them to put their theoretical knowledge in application. These ways, they get a first-hand and real-life experience of challenges and issues;

Develops critical and analytical thinking of students because they have to find answers to legal problems of people during the interactions; 

Sensitizes students to realize the social responsibility and accountability of their profession, and understand how they can utilize their knowledge and authority for the better good of the society;.  

Provides easy access to justice to the underprivileged or low-income people in society;

Makes marginalized groups of the society aware of their legal rights;

Makes law ethical builds trust regarding the fair trial;

Eliminates social and structural discrimination, making the eyes equal for all strata of society; 

Encourage grassroots advocacy and social justice initiatives; 

Develops community lawyering – a collaborative approach where legal professionals work closely with various groups of society to formulate strategies that can empower people to build long-lasting social change;

Enhances civic engagement between the general public, administrative bodies and government authorities with the legal professionals acting as a common connection;

What does legal aid and awareness curriculum entail? 

Apart from incorporating theoretical materials and its classroom discussions on legal aid and awareness, the curriculum also entails outreach programs such as legal aid clinics, legal literacy camps and legal awareness workshops across different localities and public places where there is need to provide legal literacy.  

The law institute can set up permanent legal aid cells/camps at prisons, villages or other communities where students can visit and interact with people. These cells/camps act as an ideal resource for students to understand legal challenges and issues at the grassroots level. When students work on the field and navigate their way through ground realities, they get an up-close and personal perspective to the root causes of the dispute or crime.  

These insights can prove to be a strong, valuable and constructive foundation to their career as well as the formulation of new laws or amendments to existing laws. Students also get opportunities and encouragement to leverage technology and innovation to provide legal aid and create awareness through mobile apps, websites and social media. 

Legal aid and awareness as a part of the curriculum in the law schools will pave a way for community education, legal empowerment and social and economic progress. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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