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The Daksha Fellowship is India's first fellowship for young lawyers, public policy professionals and other graduates with a prior foundation in law. The Round 2 application for the Fellowship will close on 25 May.
Legal education in India began in the year 1855 with law classes starting at Hindu College, Calcutta, Elphinstone College, Bombay, and at Madras. In these 175 years, the world around us has moved from the industrial age to the digital age but our legal education curriculum has not kept pace. This has created a whole generation of young lawyers who are not well skilled to face the complexities of the digital age.
Worldwide, particularly in several developed economies we see that models for evolution of lawyering have been adopted and lawyers are often skilled with newer abilities through the law school curriculum.
The Delta Model of lawyering is now adopted by many. Besides the core legal knowledge and skills, this requires lawyers to be skilled with personal effectiveness skills such as an entrepreneurial mindset, communication, character, emotional intelligence; and business and technology-related skills including project management, data analytics, design, data security etc.
Our shortcoming lies here, for the Indian legal education system focuses primarily on learning the laws rather than inculcating the skills to have a successful legal career. The Daksha Fellowship has been envisioned to fill this gap.
The Daksha Fellowship is India's first fellowship for young lawyers, public policy professionals and other graduates with a prior foundation in law. Spread over a year in residence, the fellowship equips lawyers with specialized knowledge through legal and non-legal courses, in-depth sectoral understanding and a wide array of skills essential for the world of work.
The current gaps in legal education, partly resulting from disruptive technological changes, have presented us with this distinct opportunity to focus on three pathways
law and regulation, and
disputes resolution – coupled with additional skills to stand out in the workplace.
The Fellowship has been promoted by Mr KV Ramani, a technology entrepreneur and Dr Pramath Raj Sinha, co-founder of the Ashoka University. Eminent people on the advisory board include Mr Narayana Murthy of Infosys, Justice MN Venkatachaliah, former Chief Justice of India, and Dr. Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
A conventional LL.M. programme does not offer enough scope for students to engage with the latest trends in course content and delivery. It does not focus on helping students build skills required to thrive in the world of law, technology and business either.
Today, the boundaries between these realms have only blurred. With the Fellowship program, Daksha aspires to build a tightly knit community of scholars who can not only engage in contemporary debates in the field of law but also have a holistic vision that only an interdisciplinary learning environment can enable.
Alongside the three tracks in the program, Daksha also offers a two-month internship that will give students the necessary exposure to build their careers and a global immersion component at one of our partner universities abroad. Skill building activities at Daksha will happen through:
Bootcamps that offer short term, high impact training on focused subjects;
Communication Lab to learn to write, present, communicate and market their skills;
Work and Well-being Lab to help students think critically and develop skills to understand their life on a holistic perspective.
Daksha's curriculum is very interdisciplinary and comprehensive. Daksha believes that we are living through very crucial times that calls for reform in legal education. Through its innovative pedagogy, teaching models and curriculum, the fellowship aspires to be a flag bearer of this trend in India.
Our students will stand out in the crowd - as lawyers, policy professionals and entrepreneurs - for their excellent knowledge in their area of expertise, for their ability to communicate their perspectives while also being excellent decision makers in their life and work.
We are commencing our fellowship programme from August 2020, and we have rolled out admission processes for our inaugural cohort. We are also offering a full tuition waiver for our inaugural cohort. In the interim, Daksha has also been focussed on creating educational experiences for young lawyers and students through conversations and masterclasses. We envision for Daksha to nurture an intellectual space for anyone interested in learning by listening, and by being curious.
As part of this endeavour, we have launched the 'Daksha Series', a week-long event to focus on a specific pathway that Daksha offers. Through this series, we have been reaching out to many students and young law practitioners to educate them on emerging areas of law, future career possibilities in these areas and how the fellowship can help catalyse their professional and personal growth.
The first Daksha Series was rolled out in the second week of May with a focus on 'Data, Rights and Risks'. We held conversations and masterclasses on themes around privacy, big data, social justice, technology and the future of the legal profession.
Eminent scholars, thinkers and lawyers like Justice Srikrishna, Rahul Matthan, Usha Ramanathan, Malavika Raghavan and more have supported us by participating in the series.
We had an average of 300 attendees per session across the sessions held throughout the week, and a lot of students have written to us with great feedback on how they have benefitted out of these dialogues and masterclasses. Recordings from the first Daksha Series on ‘Data, Rights and Risks’ are available here.
With the COVID-19 situation, it has also been made evident that it is impossible to encounter the world today without an understanding of technology applications. There is an immediate requirement to reframe the legal education paradigm in India.
Although a number of lawyers have been opting for online certificate courses and other training material to enhance their legal knowledge and skills, these stand alone courses in particular areas of law are not comprehensive and all encompassing. At Daksha Fellowship, it is our quest to mould the Daksha Fellows to acclimatise to the digital age as professionals who can pursue a successful career in litigation, law firms, corporates, academics, policy think tanks or social sector initiatives.
Our Round 2 application is also closing on 25 May, and for all young lawyers interested in applying for the Fellowship.