Professor C. Raj Kumar
is Vice Chancellor of OP Jindal Global University and Founding Dean of Jindal Global Law School
People who were trained in law played an important role in India’s freedom struggle, and later made the weightiest contribution to the governance process in the early years of nation-building. While different disciplines of study equip people with different kinds of expertise that assist in governance, lawyers are better equipped, at least academically, to understand the need for the protection of the rule of law and the necessity to ensure access to justice and fairness, due to the nature and content of legal education. The Indian freedom movement indeed sprung up some phenomenally talented lawyers, whose contribution to the freedom struggle and the never-ending pursuit of achieving justice was truly remarkable. The key figures of the freedom struggle who were trained lawyers included Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar and many other distinguished and committed persons.
Legal Education and Public Service
Legal education should place the highest priority on public service. And the notion of true public service moves beyond ideological barriers to embrace the widest range of possibilities for lawyers to contribute to the betterment of society. In most developed countries, lawyers and law firms play an important role in contributing to social issues, either in the form of legal aid work that they undertake as a part of litigation, or in the form of pro bono work, where they assist less well-off citizens at no charge, particularly in cases of important social resonance. There are a number of social issues that India’s lawyers also contribute to, but this needs to be significantly enhanced. Legal education in India ought to develop a sense of public service from the outset that will instil in our lawyers a willingness to make commitments to contribute to society. Globalisation and the new employment opportunities offered by law firms and corporations have undoubtedly created huge financial incentives for Indian lawyers. However, our law schools and universities have to work towards creating a conducive environment within the educational institutions that will promote and encourage lawyer’s sensibility towards public service. Legal education should embrace within its fold the concept of nation building so that the lawyers we produce have a broader framework and vision to contribute to society through public service. Law firms and corporations should be encouraged to institutionalise public service initiatives and leadership within the private sector to promote pro bono work.
Legal Education and Philanthropy
Legal education in India needs reforms that would support the establishment of global law schools, combining the best traditions of public educational institutions with the flexibility, freedom and autonomy enjoyed by private initiatives — all within the public good framework of a non-profit endeavour. To create a truly global law school, it is important to recognise the need to promote a global curriculum, global faculty, global degrees and global interaction within the Indian context. In this context, there is a need to encourage philanthropic initiatives in the field of legal education. The system of creating endowments — both individual and corporate — should be significantly promoted.