A conclave for law teachers was organised on November 4 at the Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) by legal-tech company Manupatra.
The debut edition of the Law Teachers Conclave 2023-24 focused on the Western Region, with the theme "Law in Motion: Adapting Legal Pedagogy in Times of Rapid Change."
Supported by the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF), General Counsel’s Association of India (GCAI), and Law Teachers India, the event brought together over 125 law teachers, including faculty members, deans, directors, principals, and research scholars from various States in the western region of India.
The conclave addressed various challenges faced by legal educators in their evolving roles. Distinguished speakers, including professionals from engineering and medicine, emphasized on important of integrating technology with legal education. They highlighted the crucial need for continuous learning, including unlearning and relearning, in order for legal teaching to evolve.
In his inaugural speech, Prof (Dr) S Shanthakumar, Director GNLU, spoke on the dynamic nature of law, stating that educators should focus not only on what they teach but also on how they teach. He stressed the need to reevaluate teaching approaches, using technology beyond traditional methods.
Chief Guest, Justice MR Shah, former Supreme Court judge and head of the education committee at Bar Council of India (BCI), underscored the importance of law teachers in shaping future lawyers.
He advocated for a relevant curriculum, practical training, and limited but essential use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology.
In her keynote address, Prof (Dr) Shashikala Gurpur, Director of Symbiosis Law School, Pune, emphasized on building global competencies in students and using technology as a tool rather than sticking to a curriculum. She cautioned that technology, like ChatGPT, can replace data but not experience.
She shared that best practices in legal teaching are providing students with behavioral development, the ability to enhance and nurture managerial skills and the development of professional and behavioral ethics.
During an interactive session, Dr Lalit Bhasin, President of SILF, highlighted essential aspects of legal teaching. Reflecting on his 61 years in advocacy, he praised the evolution of the Indian legal profession but stressed on the importance of continuous learning for educators.
A panel discussion also took place on the best practices in legal pedagogy.
Justice SG Shah, former Gujarat High Court judge, called for the legal fraternity to teach how to effectively and efficiently conduct research. He also spoke on the correlation between law that is learnt and law that is applied.
Along with educators, the event also saw an exchange of ideas from various stakeholders of the industry. Nupur Sinha and Farhan Zia from the Centre for Social Justice demonstrated how practical learning can be introduced in a class room, with a focus on “how to teach or learn”
During an interdisciplinary session, Dr Anirbid Sircar, Director of the School of Energy Technology at Pandit Deendayal Energy University (PDEU), and Dr Mehul Shah, Executive Committee Member, Indian Medical Association (IMA) – Gujarat State Branch proposed the incorporation of elements from engineering and medical education into legal instruction.
This, they said, could encompass various aspects such as rural internships, industrial exposure, and live comprehensive projects involving real industry-related issues.
Dr Sircar also remarked that industry and academia are like parallel railway tracks, running alongside each other but seldom converging.
A similar event, the North region Conclave, which will be organized by Manupatra in association with the National Law University (NLU), Delhi, is scheduled to be held on February 3, 2024.