SYMBIOSIS LAW SCHOOL: THE PARADIGM OF EXCELLENT LEGAL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE
For building a robust Law System in nation, it is ultra-important to direct our conscious attention towards offering a standardized Law Education to the aspirants with the best possible facilities. Whereupon, the gilt-edged law students render a paramount contribution towards strengthening the legal arena of our nation. This ensures the trust of civilians over legal authorities, therefore, also on the Indian Law. This, to turn into reality, requires a number of top-notch Law Schools to come into existence, which will deliver the finest education to youngsters. One such top-of-the-line Law School is Symbiosis Law School, Pune. The Director of the renowned school is Dr. Shashikala Gurpur.
The colossal Symbiosis Law School, Pune was established in 1977 by ace Dr. S B Mujumdar. Earlier the School was affiliated to the University of Pune, and later it became an integral part of Symbiosis International University in 2002. It upgraded the excellence in terms of teaching, learning and research. By 1985, it was the first college to offer five year integrated LLB program, the BBA LLB program. It was one of the first three constituents when Symbiosis was conferred the deemed university status by MHRD, in 2002.Today, the exemplary law school has been ranked among the top three law schools out of twelve hundred in India.
Symbiosis Law school Pune also offers one year LLM course with seven specializations. The superlative University is standing in the front line due to its excelling ignitors such as cutting edge curriculum, comprehensive student development programs, strong internationalization with a strong emphasis on Research. The school is an abode of eighteen hundred students across integrated BA/BBA LLB Honors programs, three year LLB and one year LLM, competent faculty, ICT-driven rich learning resources and an ecosystem of excellence. Henceforth, the output of the school has kindled the chandeliers of success and superlative results by giving four high court judges, scores of district judges and magistrates, senior leadership positions in top law firms, civil services and corporate apart from academic leadership.
Overview of Law, Legal System and Judiciary
- The sector of law has citizen and constitution at the center. It is the sector which spells out rights and protects them through the law.
- The Indian legal profession today comprises of nearly 12 lakh registered advocates
- Around 1200 Law Schools cater to about four to five lakh law students.
- Around 100000 law graduates emerge every year, but with 4 tiers of output in terms of skills, knowledge and capability.
- The legal system is organized in the hierarchy of courts from the taluka level to the supreme courts of India. These courts address millions of disputes or cases and also bear the brunt of backlog. Our judiciary has vacancies and is working hard to address the needs of the community. Dispute resolution also occurs in quasi-judicial bodies and specialized tribunals.
Legal profession is the only profession which has a constitutional status, and it works towards securing justice. Still, India does not have enough lawyers who address the unmet legal needs of the large chunk of the population, which is entitled to legal aid.
PATH OF THE INSTITUTION AND ITS INSPIRATION
This institution was started as an affiliate of Pune university, and later became a part of deemed university resulting in academic flexibility, autonomy and innovation. Being in the company of top class management institutes, the law school was inspired to start the interdisciplinary integrated program, BBA LLB. The leadership of the law school and top management engaged in policy discussions at national level, thus aware of national and best practices and global trends. This has resulted in most up to date approaches. Hybridizing and institutionalizing best practices from Europe, the US and Australia have resulted in student’s satisfaction, globally competent graduate outcome. The demand for quality legal education has escalated in last ten years with greater opportunities and demography. All-round development of their students enables them to opt for a variety of career options. Their career development and placement cell functions with the precision of a corporate HR department. To sum up, the inspiration comes from the international context of Symbiosis and excellence of its constituents alongside innovative trends in Indian and global legal education
FACILITIES TO EXCEL
Symbiosis Law School, Pune offers impeccable facilities to the students, so that they can create an astounding future with all round development. The School provides an imperative diverse environment for learning and excelling. Students learn in a rich ecosystem of national and international diversity. They are imparted an exemplary education, so that professional competencies and soft skills can proliferate. Whereupon, the curriculum is designed superlatively for offering skills, knowledge, and values. From the commencement of first semester, each student is imparted a systematic training in practical lawyering skills such as mooting, mock trial, alternative dispute resolution skills. The floating credits provide for certain interdisciplinary courses and global immersion program either at home or via study abroad. There are beaucoup of cells including Community Legal Care Center, Human Rights Cell, Environmental Law Cell, IP Cell, Tech Law Cell, Advanced Research Center and Student Bar Association which facilitate students’ development and programs at intercollegiate level and intra collegiate level. Thus, this ensures that each student has mapped his or her abilities, skills and opportunities, by which they can develop a clearer vision for their career as justice workers and positive individuals. The potential students have won top-notch jobs as well as placed among the top two mooting leagues in India in last 3 years.
SYNCHRONIZING WITH THE TREND
The Legal School has pioneered the educational arena of Law, by keeping an eye on the latest trends. It believes in ‘Collaboration’,which extends to sister institutions within the university, to other law schools, to legal elites, to stakeholders and those outside India across the globe.Collaborationextends to curriculum review and development, delivery of curriculum, student mentoring and impacting national agenda through research. Collaboration is the spirit, which they inculcate in students in spite of competition. The archetype of supervision and empowerment, Shashikalasays,“Competition ought to be with oneself, not with others.” Henceforth, they are engaged with all the legal educational thinkers, NGOs, corporate, media, the bench and the bar. They maintain the trend by constant research on content, and analyzing the move of their competitors. In IALS Global Law Deans Meet, hosted in 2017, where they collaborated so well that for the first time, a number of leading national law universities and private law schools shared the dais. There, they reflected on national agenda and on sharing best practices.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
The formidable Law School uses Research for growth, tracking impact and students’ progress, hand holding those who take time to cope. Research about content and competitors incites them to improve and realign their priorities. Moreover, the school’s research output with impact on national and global agenda, and enablement of the weak, gives them the leading edge.
They ought to institutionalize the process of Research in the system, which in turn offers a great help to students. This opens the portals of creativity and knowledge of the leading university.
Research can be integrated into undergraduate and post graduate pedagogy and assessment through various activities and methodologies. Activities such as moot courts, mock trial, model UN or mock parliament facilitates knowledge, skills, values with multiple dimensions such as team work, communication, planning, time management, application of knowledge, reporting, presentation and empirical research among others.
The very first few weeks at SLS Pune is about such orientation to research, which is ingrained into every student within a rich ecosystem of eminent faculty, advisors, stakeholders and leadership with all-round relevance and orientation.
The University supports Masters and PhD programs, which are run under the Center for Advanced Legal Studies that also consolidates publications, projects, specialization curriculum development and faculty development.
Within last six years, they along with their students, have published about three hundred eighty papers ,which include twenty-eight Scopus publications, three issues of two journals with Lexis Nexis, six books, gathered two important European projects of more than one crore rupees, robust internationalization with fifty nine collaborations resulting in DAAD, Irish, Australian, Fulbright, Erasmus and other exchange programs and summer schools, got other corporate grants for reporting research, worked with Law Commission of India, Judicial Academy, Lawyers academy, Bar Council of India and other statutory bodies.
Now they have identified a thrust area of rooting it in response to global and local context of rule of law engaging all levels of students, scholars, etc
For refining the overall Personality of students, the University pays an extreme heed towards the activities, concerning the same. The splendid activities are categorized into ‘extra-curricular’ and ‘co-curricular’ activities, including sports, debates, drama, Law Theater, Model United Nations, Mock Parliament, Rotaract, Toast masters, Mooting and ADR, legal aid clinic, mock trial, board room simulation among others. The University monitors the progress through the competency-metric linked to their learning management system, which is customized to individual. Outside the institute, collaborating with the outreach program of the university, they undertake prison clinic, permanent legal aid center in villages, surveys and capacity building among the vulnerable and collaboration with NGOs. They integrate them into overall core objectives of law learning and justice education.
SCENARIO OF EDUCATION IN INDIA
In India, there is quite a low enrolment ratioof students in schools and colleges due to a number of reasons. Gender Disparity and urban-rural divide are the factors, which result in less enrolments. In that context, legal education should have diverse models like in Japan or in the UK with adult and young students, with IIT Kharagpur or IIM Indore model of situating in another discipline etc. Open and distance learning through technology, transitioning from skills to theory or vice versa etc. should be facilitated to make law reachable to everyone than running away from it out of ignorance and fear.
KNOT OF STUDENT’S FAITH
Students are the prominent stakeholders, and their faith catalyzes the branding as well as growth of the institution. This is ensured by constant communication, responsive administration and engaging them as collaborators. The student advisory board has same teams and committees as the governance team, and a synergy is ensured in responsibilities and process. Student mentoring by faculty and peer support is facilitated by opinionative leaders. The collaboration facilitates grievance redressal, open houses, parental communication and inclusive governance besides core focus on homogenous academic accomplishment and welfare.
- The detours in the trajectory, faced in general by law colleges are:
- Faculty crunch in general, and the shared problem of faculty paucity in senior cadre.
- This leads to the leadership crisis, as they get quite a few applicants fulfilling statutory norms for major leadership positions.
- Different quality and maturation levels of law schools: Stand-alone law universities may remain like silos whereas multidisciplinary universities may not prioritize quality in law schools as much as in other departments
- Quality has a cost and fee structure in law schools especially state regulated bodies limits such investment
- Since, it is a professional discipline, updating of knowledge by full-time faculty is difficult due to regulatory ban.
- Reaching global standards of legal education compel faculty to undertake too many responsibilities whilst managing the student strength for revenue to sustain it, in private law schools.
- To remain unique and original among a plethora of choices that students may have as students are well-read, well-prepared and exposed. Hence, making your teaching interesting is one issue. Use of technology with multimedia and experience-based learning with a democratic inclusion of diverse learners as well as diverse learning styles- are required.
- Pedagogy has to change to facilitate learning rather than teacher being the sole source of information. Student satisfaction and sensitivity to their age, their stress as well as nurturing their growth in a participatory learning climate hold the key.
- Monopoly of a few family based law firms in tier 2 or tier 3 cities limits the opportunity for first generation lawyers entering litigation.
- In India, higher education has a gap in making graduates employable. Law being a professional discipline, may create such opportunity. Addressing this by changing the contour of legal education by producing practice-ready graduates is another challenge
- Need to change rigid old-fashioned thinking to make Indian law schools preferred by global students for this to happen- creating good research output in all dimensions of legal education is another challenge.
Additionally, cost and regulatory challenges are faced by reputed university. The connoisseur, with an enriching experience says, “The iron triangle of cost, resources and quality is difficult to complete, which we need to constantly struggle to do.”
STRATEGIES TO LEAD
The strategy to be ahead is to constantly reminding them of credibility they have gained over the years, and the promises they ought to keep. They consistently maintain standards with the aid of various teams, their mandate, process, ICT- enabled governance and constant review. These reviews happen through town halls of students, staff and faculty in listing deviations and rectification, and in half-yearly soul-searching on high performance drive along with competitor analysis. They engage with the best visionaries and advisors as guest speakers, mentors and quality circle resources. Ongoing vigilance and due diligence are the quintessential factors.
INCREDIBLE MILESTONES AND FUTURE PLANS
The most indispensable milestone is to achieve Asian and Global Ranking, as they have consistently been among the top three law schools of India. The cognoscente states, “I have been among the prominent national policy bodies, and I wish to see such achievements by all faculty members as well as other symbiosis law schools.” They have a strong desire to foresee their students shining in high courts and Supreme Court. Students also imprint their names across the world as attorneys and leaders. In future, the law school will develop a comprehensive Legal Skills Center to prepare students for practice and also benefit other needy students. They are also going to establish an Alternative Dispute Resolution Center They will further develop the center for advanced legal studies with thrust research areas as the globally collaborating Center of Excellence.