Redefining Legal Education

March 8, 2016 Events

The School of Law hosted a conference with a focus on redefining legal education in its new dynamics under the new set of rules in Pakistan on Saturday, March the 5th 2016 at Avari Hotel, Lahore. The conference was co-sponsored by Courting the Law (CTL). It was an endeavor towards finding the real issues affecting the legal education and legal profession in Pakistan which shall help the authorities righting the wrongs.

Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Justce (r) Tasadduq Hussain Jilani was the Chief Guest.

The speakers expressed their views on the followings themes:

  1. Pakistan Bar Council Legal Education Rules 2015 – practicality and scope.
  2. LLB syllabus and its learning outcomes. Importance of the learning outcomes for the standards in education.
  3. Role of the Legal Education Providers as stakeholders.
  4. Role of the Bar Council(s) towards the standards of legal education. The scope and limitations.
  5. Continuing Professional Development in Law and role of the Bar.

The speakers included Chief Justice (r) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Mr. Ehsan Chughtai (Chairman, School of Law), Mr. Taimur Malik (Founder, Courting The Law), Mr. Shoaib Shaheen (Chairman Legal Education Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council), Mr. Shan Gul (Additional Advocate General Punjab), Dr. Usman Hameed (Director Punjab Judicial Academy), Ms. Summaiya Zaidi (LRC, Karachi), Mr. Akhtar Ali Khan (Former VC, KPK Bar Council), Mr. Ahmad Ali Khan (Head of Law Department, Bahria University), Mr. Umar Rashid (UMT/SOL) and Chairman Legal Education Committee Pakistan Bar Council Mr, Shoab Shaheen.

Principals and delegates of various law colleges, prominent senior lawyers and members of the Pakistan Bar Council including Mr Hamid Khan (Partner, CLM), Mr Nafeer A. Malik (Principal, QLC), Mr Aatir Rizvi (Principal, Super Law College), Mr. Asad Jamal (Advocate & scholar) and Mr. Rana Intezar (Chairman Legal Education Committee of the Punjab Bar Council) also attended the event.

The conference was conducted by Ms. Sara Gul Abbasi (SOL) and Ms. Anoosha Shaigan (CTL).

The conference started off with the inaugural words of School of Law’s (SOL) Ehsan Chughtai who said that the purpose of the conference was to have a debate on the status of legal education in the country and how stakeholders could come together on a single platform to address the related issues.

Thereafter, Mr. Taimur Malik provided an overview of his initiative Courting The Law and talked about the importance of the conference. He also touched upon the need to enhance the use of technology in imparting legal education.

The next speaker was Dr. Usman Hameed, Director Punjab Judicial Academy who spoke on the importance of including ADR in LL.B syllabus. He was followed by Mr. Akhtar Ali Khan, Vice Chairman KP Bar Council and Founder of Frontier Law College Peshawar. Mr. Khan eloquently spoke about the role of Legal Education Providers as stakeholders to improve legal education in Pakistan. He also expressed his views on the role of Bar Council(s) towards the standards of legal education.

Mr. Shan Gul, Additional Advocate General (Punjab) and member of the Legal Education Reform Committee constituted by the Chief Minister provided a detailed overview of the recommendations received by the Committee from universities in the province.

Mr. Gul was followed by a guest academician from Karachi Ms. Sumaiya Zaidi, a graduate of LUMS and SOAS and a researcher on legal education in Pakistan since a year. She spoke regarding the practitioner’s perspective on law and the impact on 1) curriculum 2) teaching method and 3) research. She also said that she had found that a bi-lingual approach in teaching law helped students understand better. She further highlighted the lack of research and analysis in the legal education system in Pakistan.

Mr. Justice (R) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, former Chief Justice of Pakistan enlightened the audience about his views on the topic. The quality of justice system greatly depends on the standard of legal education, Justice (R) Jillani said. “There is a need to revamp the legal education system… law is the driving force for a country’s development,” Justice (R) Jillani further remarked that the quality of Bar Councils, too, depends on the quality of legal education. He stressed the need for incorporating academic training, professional training and continual profession development in the legal education structure. He said teaching of ethics is also part of a professional degree – be it engineering, medicine or law.

Mr. Ahmad Ali Khan, who is currently engaged as the Head of Law Department of Bahria University in Islamabad and who has previously worked with Bar Councils and has developed LL.B curriculum for various years and also worked as a Project Director with HEC spoke on the role of Pakistan Bar Council and Higher Education Commission in strengthening Legal Education in Pakistan.

Mr. Umar Rashid who is an Assistant Professor at UMT and also a visiting faculty member for the LLM program at SOL. He detailed the problems with the legal education in Pakistan and pondered if Pakistan Bar Council Legal Education Rules 2015 are enough. He was of the view that it will take more than cosmetic changes to Legal Education Rules to bring about the desired change, a change that will not be meteoric but will require patience and constant vigilance, discarding short term benefits in favour of long term returns.

Mr. Muhammad Shoaib Shaheen, Chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council Legal Education Committee. He said that Pakistan Bar Council and educational institutions have the collective responsibility to make legal education more effective. He further mentioned that PBC had been arranging consultation meetings with public and private education institutions across the country.  “We will seek proposals from educational institutions and make joint efforts for the improvement of legal education”, Mr. Shaheen commented.

The conference ended with informal discussions between all stakeholders over hi-tea. It was everyone’s consensus that legal education deserves special attention as lawyers play a central role in the society and equipping them with proper knowledge is a collective responsibility. Input of all the stakeholders must be taken and assessed by the authorities before the whole legal education sector is revamped.

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