Clinical Legal Education—A Robust Instrument for Attainment of Justice: An Indian Perspective

Published date01 January 2022
Date01 January 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Clinical Legal Education—A Robust
Instrument for Attainment of
Justice: An Indian Perspective
Ravindra Kumar Singh1
Legal education is to serve the purpose of creating well-versed and proficient professionals who can
render the best legal service to the people and help them get justice. Moreover, it is also to produce law-
abiding and well-informed citizens who can carry out their duties in their professional life (irrespective
of the nature of profession) for maintaining the rule of law. Along with a very strong foundation of
substantive law, law students must also be oriented to the application of law during their undergraduate
programme. This goal is to be realized through clinical legal education (CLE), which was introduced
with an aim of combining the theory with practice. It also helps inculcate a sense of social justice in law
students, as they closely see the application of law in a real life situation; they realize how law benefits
people; they get closely connected to the society; they learn professional ethics; they develop problem
solving approach; they get immeasurable satisfaction and confidence in the power of law; and more
particularly, they comprehend that law is the real robust instrument to ensure and secure inclusive justice
in the society. CLE, thus, makes the legal education all-inclusive and wholesome by making law students
the agents of social change and champions of justice. This research article argues that CLE is indispensable
for the attainment of inclusive justice. It also gauges the state of CLE in India from this perspective. Lastly,
the article offers a few convincing suggestions which need to be incorporated in the legal education
framework of India in order to ensure the higher goal of attainment of inclusive justice in India.
Legal education, in particular, produces procient professionals, in addition to serving the society by
creating law-abiding and well-informed citizens who are needed in every profession for maintaining the
Asian Journal of Legal Education
9(1) 7–22, 2022
© 2021 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/09717218211030784
Corresponding author:
Ravindra Kumar Singh, Associate Professor of Law, Former Dean (Academic Affairs), Gujarat National Law
University, Koba, Gandhinagar 382426, Gujarat, India.
Disclaimer: This research article is the revised and upgraded version of the paper which the author submitted to and presented
at the 17th ASLI (Asian Law Institute) Conference held (online) and co-organized by the National Law University, Delhi and the
Asian Law Institute from 7 November 2020 to 9 November 2020. As per the policy of ASLI Conference, neither the soft copies
nor hard copies of individual papers will constitute publication; and the individual presenters retain copyright of their papers and
are free to submit them for publication elsewhere.
1 Associate Professor of Law, Former Dean (Academic Affairs), Gujarat National Law University & Former ICCR Rotating Chair
(Visiting Professor of Indian Studies), Leibniz University Hannover, Germany.
8 Asian Journal of Legal Education 9(1)
rule of law in society. As a general rule, it is the quality of education which lays the true foundation and
ensures success in the professional life. As a whole, for providing quality legal education, the law
universities and colleges must have: quality faculty members, robust curriculum addressing the domestic
and international issues and challenges, continuous pedagogic improvements, good infrastructure
facilities, adequate funding, so on and so forth. Besides adequately incorporating the domestic laws
(on which there can be no compromise), the curriculum should also ideally integrate the following:
(a) the areas of law which are of transnational nature, (b) legal contours of international issues and
(c) transnational dimensions of core and substantive areas of law.2
A very strong foundation of substantive law is extremely important for the doctrinal and theoretical
understanding of the law. In conjunction with the substantive law, legal analysis, legal synthesis and
legal doctrines—law students must also be appropriately oriented to the application of law during their
undergraduate law programme. This object is primarily to be achieved by dint of clinical legal education
(CLE) and the internships which the students are to undergo during their law programme. The purpose
of this article is to outline the development of CLE in India, and to discuss how CLE can, as a part of the
legal education framework, make certain the attainment of inclusive justice in India.
Clinical Legal Education and Its Importance
This part of the article discusses the importance of CLE for the attainment of justice. The law curriculum
should be in sync with the social transformation happening around, and law students should get more
connected to the society and be able to see the application of the law while pursuing their law programme.
The need for country-wide reformation in legal education is felt not just in India. Such a need is felt
elsewhere also. In their scholarly book, Reinventing Legal Education, Alberto Alemanno and Lamin
Khadar write that ‘CLE in Europe emerges out of and must be construed in the light of a broad reective
turn in European legal education’.3 Further, the following apt observation of these scholars states the
imperative necessity of transforming legal education:4
The urgent need to reform legal education in light of the Europeanization and internationalization of national legal
systems, the globalization of legal practice, and the equal demand for civic engagement in view of increasingly
powerful supranational institutions and international actors appear among a number of catalysts and incentives
for the emergence of university law clinics in Europe. Through the European clinical movement, spurred on
by this restructuring of the European legal eld, European legal teaching—historically formalistic, doctrinal,
See William TWining, globalisaTion and legal scholarship 29–31(2011). In this book, William Twining has discerned the
following noticeable trends of the effect of globalization on legal fields: (a) ‘First, greater emphasis is being placed on established
transnational fields’ (such as, public international law, environmental law, international trade and finance, etc.) and emergence of
new transnational fields (such as, internet law, international taxation, etc.). (b) ‘Increased recognition of the legal dimensions of
issues and phenomena that are genuinely global’ (for example, climate change, other environmental issues, terrorism, pandemics,
etc.). (c) ‘Third … there is a growing emphasis on the transnational dimensions of subjects previously perceived as domestic’ (for
instance, contract law, family law, etc.). (d) ‘Fourth, increasing attention is being paid to diffusion of law generally, and specifically
of religious and customary practices through migration’. (e) ‘Finally, today no scholar, or even student, of law can focus solely on
the domestic law of a single jurisdiction’.
3 alberTo alemanno & lamin Khadar, reinvenTing legal educaTion: hoW clinical educaTion is reforming The Teaching and
pracTice of laW in europe 336 (2018). This book gathers scholarly and systematic reflections on the fascinating and rapid
developments taking place in European legal teaching and practice, as viewed through the lens of CLE. It highlights how CLE is
reinventing legal education in Europe.
4 Id. at 3–4.

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