The findings of the study, ‘“Legal Leading Curriculum Redesign for the Digital World’ were announced on July 1 at the annual law conclave hosted virtually by BMU. The report throws light on introducing foundational courses on technology that should be introduced early in the undergraduate curriculum.
BMU undertook this qualitative study in June 2021. The study was conducted by Vahura by way of interviews with 20 leading experts and pioneering professionals working at the intersections of law, policy, and technology from India and overseas.
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It sets out to capture how legal education can better prepare young lawyers for the digital world in the rapidly transforming digital/legal environment in India. Commissioned by the BMU School of Law, the study informs the existing law schools that there is a pressing need to redesign their curricula in view of changes brought about by technology to the practice, and substantive nature of the law; and lays out how such redesigning should take place to tackle and navigate both these changes in an effective way.
The objective of this study has been to diagnose and define the gap, and formulate effective ways in which law schools can, by way of a restructured curriculum and pedagogy, bridge this gap.
Majority of the experts confirmed the existence of a gap between what young lawyers are taught at law school and what is typically expected of them in this digital world.
Nigam Nuggehalli, professor, BMU’s School Of Law, said, “The study identifies the gap in the curriculum of legal education. As per the survey, a majority of respondents foresee an increasing use f digitization and legal technology over the next 10 years. It is, therefore, critical to construct a curriculum that is aligned with the impact of technology on both the legal profession, and the world at large. In this sense, our primary aim is to shape young legal professionals who are ready for the future.”
Here are some of the key takeaways from this study:
~ Law school curriculum redesign is a must in a world that has been altered as a result of its impact with technology, and will continue to rapidly evolve in the years to come.
~ Developing a curiosity, an appreciation, and a fundamental understanding of technology, and how it shapes and impacts social and economic activities is a key role for law schools.
~ It is important to help students navigate the impact of the interplay of technology with social and economic activities – both at present and in the future.
~ A mandatory programme on technology studies in the context of its historical, social and economic development and impact is the need of the hour for law schools.
~ Law school curricula must integrate a technology context to the delivery of other legal courses, by way of case studies or legal clinics that involve deliberation and defence of legal rights and issues in technological context.
~ Foundational courses on technology should be introduced early in the undergraduate curriculum, with options for electives on more specialised law and technology courses, and other relevant co-curricular and extra-curricular learning modules available to students in the later years of the undergraduate programme. Additionally, post-graduate and executive education programmes may feature more technical and specialised courses on law and technology.
~ Greater collaborative engagement between law schools with other key stakeholders in structuring curriculum and pedagogy is required to ensure effective legal education in the digital world.
~ Law schools must lead research and scholarship on key intersections of technology and the law across sectors, thereby creating more opportunities for effective learning for students, and training of faculty for the purpose of effectively discharging legal training.
~ Going beyond the classroom, law schools should foster an ecosystem that promotes exploration, self-learning and real world experiences. This can be done by way of encouraging activity groups, open labs and special competitions.
Ritvik Lukose, CEO, Vahura, said, “Young lawyers are also graduating into a workplace where legal tech is taking on many of the mundane tasks that they would formerly be trained on. This report does provide a way forward for educators, on steps that can be taken to redesign legal education, to better prepare our students for this digital age.”