Clinical Legal Education: A Virtual Mode of Access to Justice
AbstractLegal education, all over the world uses a mix of practical and theoretical means to train students. For purposes of practical training, specialized legal clinics are established by legal education institutions to train the students to apply the classroom learnt law in live cases. These legal clinics serve dual purposes, first, of training students in the practical aspects of the law and second, providing access to justice to people in areas where it is difficult to get legal help and where reaching institutions of justice delivery is difficult. The pandemic situation prevailing world over now has had deep impacts in imparting legal education. The physical classrooms have turned into virtual classrooms, delivering only theoretical education and leaving doubts in the mind of students due to lack of practical training resulting from non-functioning of legal aid clinics in this situation. In order to ensure access to justice in India during the time of pandemic, the judiciary has taken recourse of virtual courts, whereby the listing and hearing of cases which require urgent hearing are done online. The same methodology has also been adopted by the National Legal Aid Service Authority by conducting virtual Lok Adalats where cases are entrusted to them . By studying the same mode of virtual courts and virtual Lok Adalats, the present paper aims to devise a working model to ensure that clinical legal education is continued in India during these times of pandemic, and that legal aid clinics work efficiently to ensure that people are not deprived of their right to legal assistance. The working model proposes a collaboration between the legal aid clinics of the universities and colleges and the justice delivery institutions to ensure dual purpose of legal aid clinics is met. The model will also be tested in the institution, and a pan India plan of action for implementing this model would be devised.
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