The Need of the hour- Teaching of Legal Language in Indian Law Schools
Author- Riya Co-Author- Satvik Sethi
Keywords- Legal, Education, Language, Judicial system, Law schools, Latin phrases, Teaching
The terminology of the law is subject to change and is reaching new stages of development. Law teachers should emphasize on educational reforms such as – Redefining of the curriculum in Indian law schools. Teachers should impart the importance of learning legal language to the students for their holistic growth and successful careers ahead. The highly theoretical curriculum puts the Indian Law Schools in the dark pit of competitive disadvantages. Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has said that premier institutes should not only "set the standards of legal education but also work towards improving the entire chain of our legal system"
“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.”
-Louis D. Brandeis
To understand the depth of the problem, we need our centre of attention to the ground level difficulties and figuring out the problem from its roots which needs to get eroded from our judicial arrangement. The language used in the courtroom and in papers has its own sanctity and holiness and solely the person has to hold the command of legal nomenclature for the effective functioning of our system and speedy disposal of the cases for which our judicial system is criticised now and then.
The terminology of the law is subject to change and is reaching new stages of development with growing intellectual minds shaping the judiciary and its quality in holistic manner, with courts, advocates, legislature, and corporations continue to define, redefine and amplify the new horizons of legal phrases and terms. The type of legal issue, dispute, or transaction involved would impact a given definition usage.
In the world where scientific development is at its peak, new communication technologies will open up new horizons for students, faculty, and lawyers to facilitate learning process. It will not only help in growth but also in research and communication which in their later professional life will help a lot. Utilisation of these resources is of utmost importance in this 21st century.
Law teachers should emphasize on educational reforms such as – Redefining of the curriculum in Indian law schools for which the Bar Council has been conferred with this power for its regulation. Teachers should themselves have in their conscience to impart the importance of learning legal language to the students for their holistic growth and successful careers ahead.
The curriculum includes only theoretical studies which had been into practice since ages, rendering the students the lack of practical knowledge of the subject and facing obstacles once they graduate.Imparting of analytical thinking, critical analysis, skilful researching etc. is mandatory for development. The highly theoretical curriculum puts the Indian Law Schools in the dark pit of competitive disadvantages in responding to the emerging global trends of legal education.
Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has said that premier institutes should not only “set the standards of legal education but also work towards improving the entire chain of our legal system.” The educational institutions should atleast enjoy autonomy to frame courses to their specific needs, the recommendations should be made in spirit of openness and continuous improvement.
LAWYERS NEED PROBLEM SOLVING, NEGOTIATION, AND TRANSACTIONAL PRACTICE SKILLS:-
Law graduates must be equipped with a wide range of lawyering skills when they enter the profession. Advancement of problem-solving skills, including development of creative options for reaching solutions, also improves the ability of lawyers to grasp the policy aspects of law and to contribute to policy-making in their home countries.
The three elements that must be integrated into the curriculum of Law schools in India are:-
1. The teaching of legal doctrine and analysis which provide the basis for professional growth.
2. Introduction to the several facets of practice included in the rubric of lawyering, leading to acting with responsibility for clients.
3. A theoretical and practical emphasis on inculcation of the identity, values and dispositions consonant with the fundamental purposes of the legal profession.
DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES IN LAW:-
Some identifiable words take on different or new meanings when used in the law. Malice, for instance, when used in the law of defamation, doesn't imply hatred or meanness; it signifies “with reckless disregard for the truth.” Similarly, “consideration” in contract law, has nothing to do with thoughtfulness; it means something of value given by a party to an agreement. When a party is “prejudiced” in the law it usually means that the party was put at some disadvantage, not that the party is bigoted. There are many words like this in the law, and Law students must shake loose their ordinary understanding of a word to absorb its legal meaning. For this, it is necessary that Law school teachers teach these legal words carefully and deeply so that students can have in depth knowledge of these words.
COMPLEXITY OF LEGAL LANGUAGE:-
The complexity of a legal language emerges because of four reasons:-
1. The use of Latin, and in some cases French, words, and phrases to communicate a rule, principle, doctrine, maxim, etc. which can be easily phrased in English. For instance – ‘Actusneminifacitinjuriam’ is latin legal phrase which means – ‘The act of the law does no one wrong.’
2. The use of obsolete, archaic or old English words which have passed from the English language but have been kept alive by their incessant use in the Legal profession. For instance – ‘De lunatic inquirendo’ which means ‘A process issued to inquire into the state or condition of a person’s mind.’
3. The practice of allocating common English words a new, different, unusual and purely legal meaning or assigning these words some exclusive legal definitions and
4. The ridiculed tendency of legal professionals, both lawyers and judges to write often long and complex sentences without considering punctuations.
It should be insisted that the laws written by the legislatures can be made justifiable to laymen as well as to the legal professionals, these laws must be written in non-technical terms, legislatures should use short sentences with adequate punctuations, the utilisation of archaic words, legal jargon and unknown dialects must be limited. Long sentences must be abbreviated and ought to be written in simper languages.
There is gigantic magnificence and uniqueness in the language utilized in our legal framework and one ought to learn and hold the command of the same. The judgements written in the court of law are wonderful and at the same time the most technical one for a layman to comprehend. It incorporates Latin, bygone and French phrases which are so powerful and impactful in themselves. The need of the hour is the teaching of the legal nomenclature in Indian law schools by proficient educators and moulding the future of the students.
STEPS TO ACHIEVE THIS AIM:-
1. The first step towards teaching of legal language is identifying course objectives and competencies. The list of such competencies should respond to the way law is being practiced in real life.
2. The next step is structuring the course which includes designing a syllabus, charting assignments and classes and choosing a right textbook.
3. The next step would be effective teaching of the legal syllabus. It includes teaching theoretically as well as practically. Powerpoint presentations and projects can help to enhance theoretical knowledge of the students and moot court competitions, debate competitions, turncoat etc. will give them practical experience and more confidence would be enhanced.
4. The last and final step would be assessment and evaluation of students. It can be in various forms either oral or written or in-class. This will help students to maintain regularity and discipline.
Law being a perplexing subject, needs extraordinary endeavours on the behalf of the students as well as for the instructors for its complete understanding and knowledge. ‘You reap what you sow’, if the seeds would be healthy, so does the harvest. The very first year of the students in the law colleges is the time when they have most of the potential to inculcate new things in their minds and shape their future, the urgent attention should be given to learning of the legal language and it’s preaching by teachers.
The Advocates Act, 1961, Section 7(1)(h) states that one of the functions of the Bar Council of India shall be “to promote legal education and to lay down standards of such education in consultation with the Universities in India imparting such education and the State Bar Councils.” The Advocates Act, 1961, No. 25 of 1961 § 7(l)(h); INDIA CODE, http://indiacode.nic.inlfullactl.asp ?tfnm=196125.  K.G. Balakrishnan, To Meet the Global Standards: The Immediate Challenge of Our National Law Institutes, U. NEWS, Sept. 24-30, 2007, at 25,26 (excerpt from Convocation Address at NALSAR University of Law on July 21, 2007).  WILLIAM M. SULLIVAN, ANNE COLBY, JUDITH WELCH WEGNER, LLOYD BOND & LEE S. SHULMAN, EDUCATING LAIVYERS: PREPARATION FOR THE PROFESSION OF LAW, 191, 194 (2007).