Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) organised a global virtual conference on ‘Reimagining & Transforming the Future of Law Schools & Legal Education: Confluence of Ideas During & Beyond COVID-19’ from 25 to 27 November. The conference celebrated India’s Constitution Day on November 26 and brought together nearly 170 thought leaders from the world of law including law school deans, scholars, Supreme Court judges, lawyers, law firm partners and had representation from all spheres of the legal profession and legal education.
The conference was inaugurated by Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Hon’ble Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice, Government of India. Inaugurating the conference, he said: “Technology is going to be play a very crucial role in the future of law education and India must play a leading role in the international legal system.” He stated that the digital ecosystem needs a legal framework for governance which young Indian law students must pursue for a successful career.
Mr. Cyril Shroff, Managing Partner of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, delivered the keynote address. Mr. Shroff said: “It is true that the pandemic has changed the world and the legal profession forever. What has not changed is the quest for justice and the need for all civilised societies and nations to provide speedy justice. Humanity still needs justice and the professionals in pursuit of that human goal. The rule of law is aligned with the basic human condition particularly in free societies. Modern legal education must incorporate emotional intelligence along with legal knowledge and skills with personal effectiveness and an entrepreneurial mindset. Law education must also focus on technology, social media skills, data analytics, data security and design thinking. The pre-pandemic model of law education is no longer the default position but will evolve into a hybrid system where faculty and students will become a borderless community.”
Over 100 Vice Chancellors, current and former Deans, Acting Deans, Vice Deans, Executive Deans, Assistant Deans, Associate Deans, Principals, Heads and Directors of law schools from around the world came together over 31 thematic sessions and 2 keynote lectures to reimagine the future of legal education. The conference also brought together 8 Judges from India, Singapore, Tanzania and the United States of America (USA), including 6 former and current Supreme Court Judges of India and the USA.
The speakers represented 6 continents and 35+ countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the USA, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay and India.
Hon’ble Dr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Judge, Supreme Court of India, delivered a special Constitution Day lecture on November 26. Justice Chandrachud said: “Endowing courts with the expectation that they are the sole repositories of social change is unrealistic. It will breed cynicism of unrealised hopes.” However, there are cases where the courts can play a vital role in fostering the growth of constitutional and democratic values, he said.
“In cases and controversies brought to the court evidencing a deprivation of constitutional and legal rights, the Supreme Court of India has not just the power but the mandate to interfere,” Justice Chandrachud said.
The Constitution Day lecture was presided over by Professor (Dr.) Upendra Baxi, Research Professor of Law and a Distinguished Scholar, JGLS, who also delivered the presidential address.
The conference hosted a Constitution Day Forum and paid a special tribute to the women leaders in the world of law. Two special women-only panels were held during this conference to hear the journeys of women leaders from the world of law across the judiciary, law firms and legal academia. Hon’ble Ms. Justice Gita Mittal, Chief Justice, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, delivered a keynote address. Justice Mittal said, “The glass ceiling implies the existence of an impermeable barrier that blocks the vertical mobility of women. Below this barrier, women are able to get promoted but beyond this they are not. This ubiquitous glass ceiling obstructs women across jurisdictions and subjects them to unequal treatment all over the world.”
Ms. Pallavi Shroff, Managing Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, delivered the special address and Ms. Geeta Ramaseshan, Advocate, Madras High Court, delivered the presidential address. The conference witnessed a union of nearly 60 women leaders from across the legal education, law firms and the judiciary speaking in multiple panel discussions.
The conference concluded in the presence of distinguished members of the Indian judiciary and the legal profession. Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Member of Parliament, delivered the valedictory address.
Dr Singhvi said, “There are a small number of outstanding and dynamic law schools in India, but they remain islands of excellence in a sea of institutionalised mediocrity. In the important task of nation-building, all efforts in the field of legal education should contribute to ‘Gross National Mind’ (GNM), as the character of law schools determines the character of the Bar and indeed of the Bench.”
Hon’ble Mr. Justice U.U. Lalit, Judge, Supreme Court of India, delivered the presidential address. Justice Lalit said: “Law schools should enable the students of today and professionals of tomorrow to adapt, master and enhance the manner in which they can use technology. The theory of law is empty without the practice of it. Law schools must be able to bridge the gap between academics and practical application of the law by inviting practicing lawyers to take courses, increase the engagement with the Bar and the Bench and move a step closer towards a holistic engagement of the academia and practice. Members of the Bar and the Bench should involve in teaching to refresh their own concepts and in giving back to educational institutions. For students, learning from legal luminaries provides an invaluable insight into legal principles and practical know how.”
The conference brought together diverse views from the senior leadership of leading law schools across the world such as Stanford Law School, Cornell Law School, Melbourne Law School, National University of Singapore Faculty of Law, UNSW Law School, Georgetown Law School, Faculty of Law-The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law-The University of Hong Kong, School of Law-University of Queensland, Durham Law School, Auckland Law School, School of Law-City University of Hong Kong, School of Law-Trinity College Dublin, Faculty of Law-Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet Freiburg, School of Law-University College Dublin, Faculty of Law-Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Birmingham Law School, School of Law -School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Faculty of Law-Universidad Externado de Colombia, National Law School of India University- Bengaluru, Gujarat National Law University, National Law University–Jodhpur, National Law University-Raipur, National Law Institute University-Bhopal and National Law University-Delhi.