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Students graduating in law may have to do a stint of compulsory practical training in courts, like the internship that medical graduates have to undergo. Law teachers this newspaper spoke to agreed that such a period of apprenticeship would help new law graduates but argued that it should be kept optional. The original proposal to make legal internship a compulsory part of the five-year LLB course had come from the Chief Justice of India to the Prime Minister in December 2010, sources said.
The human resource development ministry has approved the suggestion, and the Prime Minister’s Office and the department of justice are likely to discuss the matter with the Bar Council of India, which regulates legal education in the country. In many countries such as America and South Africa, legal internship is a compulsory part of law courses and a pre-requisite before a law graduate can start practicing, legal experts said. The internship varies from six months to a year in these countries but in India it could be as short as three months.“It is a welcome move. The students will get exposed to the law in action apart from the law in the books. They will become better professionals,” said academic Madhava Menon, founder director of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. He said the 15 national law universities had introduced optional internship for students, and that most of them do undergo two months of such practical training every year. “They go to law firms and offices of corporate and defence lawyers, and to the courts, where they get trained on how legal education is put into practice,” he said.Menon and Rahul Singh, a faculty member at the National Law School of India University, however, argued that internship must not be made mandatory. “There is not enough law firms to accommodate all the law graduates for internship,” Singh said, adding that the decision to introduce internship should be left to the country’s about 1,000 law colleges. Menon said that if internship was to be made mandatory, an amendment must be made to the Advocates Act, 1961, which allows the Bar Council of India to lay down the standards for legal education in consultation with the universities and state bar councils. Bar Council chairperson Ashok Parija said no ministry had yet contacted the council for its opinion on the proposal. The University Grants Commission, which regulates higher education, had set up a committee to suggest how legal education could be restructured. The Jose Verghese committee, which handed in its report a few months ago, favoured the idea of three months of practical training in a court for each student, a source said. The committee has suggested that the proposed internship programme can be more effective if the law teachers are given a limited right to practice law, a right they enjoy in many countries.
Courtesy: The Telegraph
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