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Submitted by -
Mohd. Shahan Ulla
B.A. LL.B.(Hons)
VII Semester

The legal education is the basis of an efficient legal profession which is the basis of a well-
organized and sound judicial system. It is directed towards developing the perceptions,
attitudes, skills, and sense of responsibilities which the lawyers are expected to assume when
they complete their professional education. Unfortunately the legal education was not paid
due attention during the British period and even after independence it has been the most
neglected branch of the education.
It is a matter of pleasure that the Bar Council of India has taken the legal education very
seriously and has made commendable efforts for its improvement .One of the pitfalls of the
legal education is that it has put less emphasis on the practical training of the subject.
This assignment makes an effort to make the readers aware of the historical development of
the system if clinical legal education in India and its very importance.
The material has been collected from various sources. This assignment contains material on
the Historical Approach towards Clinical Legal Education and its establishment and
functioning of clinics.
I hope it serves as a good and helpful read to all the readers.
This assignment has been prepared on the doctrinal type of methodology. The material has
been collected from various sources that of articles, books various law journals, newspapers
and internet. It contains viewpoint of many jurists and advocates.
The material was collected and arranged in order. This assignment emphasizes on the
Historical Approach towards Clinical Legal Education in India and the functioning of legal
clinics, its importance and objectives.
In order to make it an easy and well understandable read the whole assignment has been
divided topic wise which individually describe its meaning, and relevant case laws are also
given to explain the reader with practical view.
In the last section, a conclusion is given that concludes the topic and gives a quick gist of the
whole subject.

1. Introduction

2. Clinical Legal Education

• Definition

• Basic features of the Clinical Legal Education

3. What is Legal Clinic

• Types of Legal Clinics

• Problem of Legal Clinics

4. History of Clinical Legal Education

• National Legal Service Authority

• Supreme Court on Legal Aid

5. Legal Aid on Law Schools

6. Development of Clinical Legal Education in India

• Delhi University

• Aligarh Muslim University

• Banaras Hindu University

7. Global Development of the Clinical Legal Education

8. Legal Education Reforms and Law School-Based Legal Aid Clinics in India: Laying
the groundwork for Social Justice- Based Clinical Legal Education

• Early efforts to link Legal Aid and Legal Education Reform

9. Law School Provisions

• The cost of Clinics

10. Role of Lawyers

11. Newsletters

• CJI inaugurates 2,648 villages legal aid clinics

• Free legal aid clinic

12. Conclusion

13. Bibliography

I extend my heartfelt gratitude and sincere thanks to my clinical law teacher Dr. Iqbal
Hussain for his encouragement and full cooperation throughout the completion of this
assignment. Without his guidance and support this assignment would never have been

As we enter the new millennium, the movement beyond the casebook method to the wider
integration of clinical methodology throughout the curriculum stands on a solid intellectual
foundation. Yet, although clinical legal education is a permanent feature in legal education,
too often clinical teaching and clinical programs remain at the periphery of law school
curricula. Doctrine, theory, and skills cannot be appreciated if they are introduced without
engaging the pathos of the human issues that the lawyer encounters when representing
clients. So little attempt has been made to reflect this relationship that the goals of the legal
academy have been called into question.

Professor Richard Neumann puts it this way:

Because it does not expect itself to produce practitioners, legal education is in some ways
closer to graduate liberal arts education than it is to professional education as other
professions define it. . . . It would be unthinkable to graduate physicians with no clinical
clerkships or architects with no experience in a design studio.1

The term, "clinical legal education" was first used by Jerome Frank, in 1933 in United States
in his article, "Why not a Clinical Lawyer School"2 and has since then been the focus of
attention for improvement of legal education and for creating a synthesis between the law
schools and the legal profession. The legal clinic concept was first discussed at the turn of
the twentieth century by two professors as a variant of the medical clinic model. Russian
professor Alexander I. Lyublinsky in 1901, quoting an article in a German journal, and
American professor William Rowe, in a 1917 article, each wrote about the concept of a “legal
clinic.” Both professors associated it with the medical profession’s tradition of requiring
medical students to train in functioning clinics ministering to real patients under the
supervision of experienced physicians.

1 Richard K. Neumann, Jr., Donald Schon, “The Reflective Practitioner, and the Comparative Failures of Legal
Education”, 6 Clin. L. Rev. 401, 404 (2000).

2 81 UPA. L. Rev. 907 (1933).

Clinical legal education is essential to preparing law students to practice law effectively.
Clinics are important because they prepare students to practice law by teaching them valuable
skills such as fact-finding, investigation, interviewing, and legal research and writing. In the
United States, law students learn these skills by undertaking projects or cases on behalf of
individuals, always under faculty supervision and guidance. Students also develop a sense of
social justice and empathy through their work with disenfranchised groups.Clinical Legal
Education (CLE) has been a significant part of legal education since 1960. The first clinic
started in U. K. in 1970 and in Australia in 1990s. The concept is fast expanding across the
globe also.

The clinical method allows students to confront the uncertainties and challenges of problem
solving for clients in fora that often challenge precepts regarding the rule of law and justice.
To say that the process of learning law in such a textured manner should be relegated to a
certain course or set of courses ignores what educational theorists have been saying for years:
that the best learning takes place when the broad range of abilities we possess is engaged.
According to Professor Barbara Woodhouse, "perhaps one of the most serious failings in
contemporary legal education is that all too many students graduate with a vast doctrinal
base of knowledge sealed within a context that is not translatable into practice."3

The Clinical Legal Education is necessary to bridge a gap between theory and practice. The
aim of this article is to know the various types of Clinical legal Education, its necessity in
curriculum and current initiatives and practices in Indian Clinical Legal Education.


3 John B. Mitchell, Betsy R. Hollingsworth, Patricia Clark & Raven Lidman, “And Then Suddenly Seattle
University Was on its Way to a Parallel, Integrative Curriculum”, 2 Clin. L. Rev. 1, 21 (1995).


The Clinical Legal Education can be defined in various ways –

“Clinical Legal Education is essentially a multi-disciplined, multipurpose education which

can develop the human resources and idealism needed to strengthen the legal system… a
lawyer, a product of such education would be able to contribute to national development and
social change in a much more constructive manner.”4

“A learning environment where students identify, research and apply knowledge in a setting
which replicates, at least in part, the world where it is practiced. It almost inevitably means
that the student takes on some aspect of a case and conducts this as it would be conducted in
the real world.”5

Prof. Sathe asked the pertinent question, "Is legal education all about imparting skills
of lawyering or does it also have to create a commitment to certain values?"6

He opined:

“A lawyer is not only a seller of services but he is a professional who renders services
for maintaining the rule of law. He is supposed to be an officer of the court. He has to have
commitment to certain values such as democracy, individual liberty, social and economic
equality including gender equality and concern for the disadvantaged sections of society
which will include the poor, women, the physically handicapped, children, the minorities and
the Dalit’s. Legal education has to create such a commitment.”

4 KuljitKaur,“Legal Education and Social Transformation”

[available at:] [viewed on: 25/06/2009].
5 Richard Lewis, “Clinical Legal Education Revisited” Professor of Law, Cardiff University, Wales, United
Kingdom, Pg. 5 , [available at:] [viewed on: 25/06/2009].
6 S.P. Sathe- Keynote Address in “ roundtable discussion on community responsive legal education: trends in
South Asia”, November 27-28, 2001, organised by the United States Educational Foundation in India in
collaboration with Pune Law College.
The Clinical Legal Education is a term which encompasses learning which is focused on
enabling students to understand how the law works in action. This can be done by
undertaking real or realistic simulated case work. In early days law is thought as one of the
curriculum available to the students. Even though the casebook method was growing in
earlier days, there were critics of this method from the beginning. However the first-hand
experience method will really educate the law students. The legal education clinics if
properly channeled may help the students to gain their knowledge. The use of the word
‘clinic’ prompts the analogy of trainee doctors meeting real patients in their medical clinics.
Clinical Legal Education is only one way in which theory and practice can be brought

Now every nation is giving importance on the clinical legal education in order to groom their
future lawyers, the law makers, the executors, law officers, judges and law teachers to acquire
knowledge through a scientific method keeping pace with the ethics and philosophy of the
society. The objective of the clinical education is radical, reformative and dynamic.

The following are the basic features of the clinical legal education-

• The students are to experience the impact of law on the life of the people.

• The students are to be exposed to the actual milieu in which dispute arise and to
enable them to develop a sense of social responsibility in professional work.

• The students are to be acquainted with the lawyering process in general and the skills
of advocacy in particular.

• The students are to critically consume knowledge from outside the traditional legal
arena for better delivery of legal services.

• The students are to develop research aptitude, analytical pursuits and communicating

• They are to understand the limit and limitations of the formal legal system and to
appreciate the relevance and the use of alternate modes of lawyering.
• They are to imbibe social and humanistic values in relation to law and legal process
while following the norms of professional ethics

A legal clinic (also law clinic or law school clinic) is a law school program providing hands-
on-legal experience to law school students and services to various clients. Clinics are usually
directed by clinical professors.7 Legal clinics typically do pro bono work in a particular area,
providing free legal services to clients.

Students typically provide assistance with research, drafting legal arguments, and meeting
with clients. In many cases, one of the clinic's professors will show up for oral argument
before the Court. However, many jurisdictions have "student practice" rules that allow law-
clinic students to appear and argue in court.89

Clinical legal education may be simply described as learning through application, practice
and reflection. It is quite different from the traditional legal education. The lecture- seminar
method so common in the education of the law students does not meet the clinical demands,
however they are vital as they render vital information being predominantly content and
assessment led. Clinical legal education is directed towards developing the perceptions,
attitudes, skills and sense of responsibilities which the lawyers are expected to assume when
they complete their professional education. It can, therefore, be as broad and varied as the
law school curriculum would accommodate; certainly it is not limited to the mere training in
certain skills of advocacy. Clinical legal education has wider goals of enabling law students
to understand and assimilate responsibilities as a member of a public service in the
administration of law, in the reform of the law, in the equitable distribution of the legal
services in society, in the protection of individual rights and public.

7Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition, "clinical legal studies," (St. Paul, Minn: West Publishing Co., 1990), 254.
8Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XX
9 Uniform Local Rules Of The United States District Courts For The Eastern, Middle, And Western Districts Of
Louisiana, LR83.2.13,

A legal clinic (also law clinic or law school clinic) is a law school program providing hands-
on-legal experience to law school students and services to various clients.10

Clinics are usually directed by clinical professors. Legal clinics typically do pro bono work in
a particular area, providing free legal services to clients. Students typically provide assistance
with research, drafting legal arguments, and meeting with clients. In many cases, one of the
clinic's professors will show up for oral argument before the Court. However, many
jurisdictions have "student practice" rules that allow law-clinic students to appear and argue
in court. .Clinical legal studies exist in diverse areas such as immigration law, environmental
law, intellectual property, housing, criminal defence, criminal prosecution, and American
Indian law. Clinical education presents an interesting intersection between the academic
and professional environments. Clinical experiences are designed to maximize the student's
abilities to perform newly acquired didactic and psychomotor skills in real patient care
situations. A college depends upon clinical education centres to provide supervised learning
experiences in which the student has the opportunity to apply the principles learned in the

A fully operational clinic is made up of five key components:

10Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition, " clinical legal studies," (St. Paul, Minn: West Publishing Co.,1990),
1. The clinic is part of the law school curriculum, and it offers academic credit for student
participation in handling cases or projects as well as in a seminar that is taught either before
or during the handling of cases or projects;

2. The students work on actual cases or projects, to the extent that local rules for those rules
to permit the widest practical scope of the practice of law permit, and with the goal to expand
student practice that local conditions permit;

3. The clients of the clinic are generally those who cannot otherwise gain access to legal
representation, either due to their poverty, their social marginalization, or the unique or
complex nature of their claims;

4. Representation by students is closely supervised by an experienced attorney admitted to

practice in the relevant jurisdiction where they appear, preferably a teacher with full or part
time status in the law school;

5. Work on real cases is accompanied by a course in the law school, taught with experiential
methods such as simulation, role-plays and games, which trains students in the skills, values
and ethics of law practice.

Types of Legal Clinics:
The aims and objective of each type of clinic are in principle the same. The legal clinics may
be divided into three types:
1. Simulation clinic: Students can learn from variety of simulations of what happens in
legal practice. Ex – moot Court commonplace etc. Cases can be acted out in their entirety,
from the taking of initial instructions to a negotiated settlements or Court hearing. Such
sessions can be run as intensive courses or spread through all or part of the academic year in
weekly slots. Other simulations can range from negotiation exercises, client interviewing
exercises, transaction exercises etc.
2. The In-house real client clinics: In this model the clinic is based in the law school. It is
offered, monitored and controlled in law school. In this type of clinic the clients require
actual solutions to their actual problems hence it is called as real client clinic. The client may
be selected from a section of the public. The service is given in the form of advice only or
advice and assistance. In this type of Clinics, Clients are interviewed and advised orally or in
writing and also helped with the preparation of their cases. The clinic may operate as a
paralegal services or a fully-fledged solicitor’s practice.
3. The out-house clinic: It is a clinic that involves students in exercising legal work
outside the college or university. These types of clinics may operate on the basis of advice
giving only. Such agencies are run by trade union councils and other non-statutory bodies.
The clinic might take the form of placement also in solicitors’ office or barristers’ chambers.
Simulation clinic has several advantages than other clinics. In this type of clinic risk and
unpredictability of the real-client work are removed, the same materials are used for many
times and hence cost is substantially less than real clinic. The administration of the simulation
is very difficult. But all the clinics play active part in Clinical Legal Education and also their
objectives and aims are same.
What is the problem of Clinics?

1. The Integration of the clinic within the law school: Some eminent authors stated that
there is a danger that the clinic will become an isolated outpost of the law school, and not
absorbed within its mainstream activity. To avoid diversion of students from the rest of
their legal teaching, it is important to draw clear links between substantive law courses
and work done in the clinic. For example, problems arising in the clinic can be re-
examined in other law classes, research can be done on them, and even action
recommended. A wide range of teacher involvement is desirable. However, there is no
ready-made solution to the problem of integration.

2. Resources: Extra resources must be allocated to the teaching and running of the clinic.
This can be another cause of resentment for traditional academics who are less involved
in skills teaching, and it is another reason why the support and involvement in the clinic
of the law school is needed. The pressures created by the high caseload may badly affect
the moral of both staff and students. Resources can be particularly stretched if the clinic
operates an open door policy and attempts to deal with all cases which come in off the
street. Hence there is need to limit access in some way.

3. Difficulties in supervision and assessment: Supervising students in the clinic is difficult

task. It is important to include checks on the quality of work being done for the system of

4. The dangers of public service: The idea of providing free legal advice is attractive but
problems can develop if the public service aim takes precedence over that of providing a
sound and well-rounded legal education.

5. Relationship with the local legal profession: Some may fear that a legal clinic offering
free legal work will upset the law school’s relation with the local legal profession.


The earliest Legal Aid movement appears to be of the year 1851 when some enactment was
introduced in France for providing legal assistance to the indigent. In Britain, the history of
the organised efforts on the part of the State to provide legal services to the poor and needy
dates back to 1944, when Lord Chancellor, Viscount Simon appointed Rushcliffe Committee
to enquire about the facilities existing in England and Wales for giving legal advice to the
poor and to make recommendations as appear to be desirable for ensuring that persons in
need of legal advice are provided the same by the State.

One need not be a litigant to seek aid by means of legal aid. Legal aid is available to anybody
on the road. Justice Blackmun in Jackson v. Bishop, 11 says that; "The concept of seeking
justice cannot be equated with the value of dollars. Money plays no role in seeking justice."

Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides that State shall secure that the operation of
the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall in particular,

11 404 F. 2d 571 - Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 1968.

provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that
opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other
disability. Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality
before law and a legal system which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all.
Legal aid strives to ensure that constitutional pledge is fulfilled in its letter and spirit and
equal justice is made available to the poor, downtrodden and weaker sections of the society.
Sec. 304, Criminal Procedure Code: The Constitutional duty to provide legal aid arises from
the time the accused is produced before the Magistrate for the first time and continues
whenever he is produced for remand.

Since 1952, the Govt. of India also started addressing to the question of legal aid for the poor
in various conferences of Law Ministers and Law Commissions. In 1960, some guidelines
were drawn by the Govt. for legal aid schemes. In different states legal aid schemes were
floated through Legal Aid Boards, Societies and Law Departments. In 1980, a Committee at
the national level was constituted to oversee and supervise legal aid programmes throughout
the country under the Chairmanship of Hon. Mr. Justice P.N. Bhagwati, then a Judge of the
Supreme Court of India. This Committee came to be known as CILAS (Committee for
Implementing Legal Aid Schemes) and started monitoring legal aid activities throughout the
country. The introduction of LokAdalats added a new chapter to the justice dispensation
system of this country and succeeded in providing a supplementary forum to the litigants for
conciliatory settlement of their disputes. In 1987 Legal Services Authorities Act was
enacted to give a statutory base to legal aid programmes throughout the country on a uniform
pattern. This Act was finally enforced on 9th of November 1995 after certain amendments
were introduced therein by the Amendment Act of 1994.

Contributions Made By Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer To The Development Of Legal Aid

- ‘Processionals Justice To Poor’

The contribution of justice Krishna Iyer towards the development and incorporation of the
concept of legal aid in the Indian legal system has been tremendous. His report titled
Processionals justice to poor’ has gone a step further in enabling the recognition of the poor
for the purpose of giving legal aid.

In a report on Free Legal Aid in 1971 Justice Bhagwati observed " even while retaining the
adversary system, some changes may be effected whereby the judge is given greater
participatory role in the trail so as to place poor, as far as possible, on a footing of equality
with the rich in the administration of justice."

A similar report of the Committee on Legal Aid titled "processionals justice to poor" presided
over by Krishna Iyer in 1973, dealt with the nexus between law and poverty, and spoke of
PIL in this context. It emphasized the need for active and widespread legal aid system that
enabled law to reach the people, rather than requiring people to reach the law.

The two judges joined forces as a two member committee on juridicare, released its final
report in August 1977. The report while emphasizing the need for a new philosophy of legal
service programme cautioned that it ‘must be framed in the light of socio-economic
conditions prevailing in the Country’. It further noted that ‘the traditional legal service
programme which is essentially Court or litigation oriented, cannot meet the specific needs
and the peculiar problems of the poor in our country’. The report also included draft
legislation for legal services and referred to Social Action Litigation.

Justice Krishna Iyer was appointed as the Chairman of Committee for Legal Aid. The
Committee was formulated as on the 22nd day of October 1972. The Committee after
conducting sample surveys of large part of the country submitted a 275 page report to the
Government on the 27th day of May, 1973. This report came to mark the cornerstone of
Legal Aid development in India. The report clearly laid down that it is a democratic
obligation of the State towards its subject to ensure that the legal system becomes an effective
tool in helping secure the ends of social justice. He coined the word "Juridicare" to cover a
scheme of legal aid which brought justice to the doorstep of the lowly and which was
comprehensive in its coverage.

The report clearly suggests the colonial hangover of the Indian legal system which has
prevented it from realising its true potential and extent. It also recognises the fact that much
of our law was created by the British to suit their convenience and as a result of this it is
mostly insensitive to the socio-economic problems of the masses it set out to govern and

The 14th Law Commission Report stated the fact that if laws do not provide for an equality
of opportunity to seek justice to all segments of society they have no protective value and
unless some arrangement is made for providing a poor man the means to pay Court fee’s,
advocates fees and other incidental costs of litigation, he is denied an opportunity to seek

Most social evils are an outcome or creation of poverty and the misery that comes with being
poor in a country like India, at the same time it also needs to be borne in mind that the
judiciary no matter however committed it may be towards uplifting the cause of the poor is
ultimately bound by procedural formalities which do not take into account the misery or
problems of the masses. Therefore the sufferings being so may it is not possible for the legal
system to remove even few of such problems. In keeping with the same view Justice Krishan
Iyer asserted that poverty is a creation of unjust institutions and unjust society. Therefore in a
country like India if you are poor you are ineffective socially as well as economically the
only way that you can then be empowered is through radical revamping of the socio-
economic structure. Such a radical change according to him could only be brought about in
the form of a revolution that the legal service programme only is capable of gearing. Thus the
legal aid programme aimed at revamping the socio-economic structure by way of removing
the socially unjust institutions and creating a new order based upon the ethos of human
liberty, equality and dignity of mankind.

He realised the fact that though the system had been flagged off under the term "We the
people of India" it had no longer continued in the same direction want of procedural
formalities had taken precedence over the people at the cost of which justice often suffered
casualties. He came to recognise the fact that the Courts of law had merely become
instruments for law’s sake and were not administering justice as such. However, he placed
blame for the attitude of the judiciary on the colonial hangover of namely all institutional
systems in the Country. This lead him to express faith in the Gandhian system which
professed the resolution of disputes at the grass root level through village Panchayat’s.

The expert committee appointed under the chairmanship of justice Krishna Iyer has made
significant contribution toward the development of the concept of legal aid in India. The
various suggestions made by him can be summarized as under:

A National Legal Service Authority accountable to the parliament but protected from
official control was recommended. Simplification of the legal procedure and an emphasis on
conciliated settlement outside court has to be the policy of legal aid schemes. The report
adopted the three fold test laid down for determining eligibility: Means test- to determine
people entitled to legal aid Prima facie test- to determine whether there was a prima facie
case to give legal aid or not Reasonableness test- to see whether the defence sought by a
person is ethical and moral.

In criminal proceedings the committee is not in favour of guaranteeing legal aid to habitual
offenders and in cases, which essentially involve private claims. Regular arrangement for aid
and advice to the under-trials was to be provided. A liberalized bail policy which was not to
be dependent on financial consideration Legal services were to be extended to investigation
as well as post-conviction stage. Legal services should also include rehabilitative services. In
criminal legal aid, the committee was in favour of salaried lawyers. The report also
encourages payment of compensation to victims in criminal cases. Family courts should be
established for women and children with women judges this is specially required in slum
areas and rural villages. Public defence council should be appointed in children’s court.

In backward areas, Legal Advice Bureau should be established in each development block.
The report encourages the involvement of law students in legal aid schemes particularly for
preventive legal services. Public law service should be an alternative available as against the
private bar and legal services authority should fix the fees payable to the lawyer.

Contributions Made By Justice P.N.Bhagwati To The Development Of The Concept Of

Legal Aid-Report On National Jurdicare: Equal Justice-Social Justice, Ministry Of Law
And Justice And Company Affairs, 1977

Justice P.N. Bhagwati practiced at the High Court, Bombay, he became a Judge of the Gujarat
High Court on 21st July, 1960, and became Chief Justice of Gujarat on 16th September, 1967.
On 17th July, 1973, he became the judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also
Chairman of the Legal Aid Committee appointed by the Government of Gujarat for
suggesting ways and means of providing free legal aid and advice to the poor and weaker
section of the community; and also acted as Chairman of the State Legal Aid Committee
for running the Pilot Project of free Legal Aid and Advice in Gujarat. He worked successfully
to build up an elaborate legal aid programme. He is widely regarded as the originator of
India’s legal aid programme, including setting up of legal aid camps in rural areas, working
with NGOs, establishing legal aid clinics etc.
The post-independence legal aid development was initiated by formation of BOMBAY
COMMITTEE, in 1949 under the chairmanship of Mr. NH Bhagwati, followed by the
below mentioned sequence of reports, committees and rules. Trevor Harries Committee in
West Bengal, 1949 Initiatives by the state governments such as The Legal aid formed in 1952
in UP, The Legal Aid Committee formed in Madras in 1954, and so on, Kerala Legal Aid (to
the poor) Rules, 1957, 14th Report of the Law Commission of India, Central Government
Scheme 1960. National Conference on Legal Aid, 1970, The Gujarat committee along with
Mr. P.N. Bhagwati (Chairman) constituted of Mr. J.M. Thakore, A.G., Mr. VV Mehta, Deputy
Speaker, Gujarat VidhanSabha, Mr. Madhavsinh F. Solanki, M.L.A, Mr. Girishbhai C. Patel,
Principal, New Lal College, and Ahemdabad.

The focus of the committee was the indigent person seeking to access justice. Answering to
the question of inequality in the administration of justice between the rich and the poor the
report clearly stated that there can be no rule of law unless the common man irrespective of
the fact whether he is rich or poor is able to assert and vindicate to the rights given to him by
the law. The machinery of law should be readily accessible to all. The poor must be placed in
the same position as the rich by means of adequate legal service programme. It stated that the
inequality between the rich and the poor in administration of the justice can be removed by
establishing and developing effective system of the legal aid programme. Legal aid and
advice should be regarded not as a matter of charity or bounty but as a matter of right. It is a
part of social security programme just as much as medical aid is.

There was unanimous decision of the Committee that the State should regard it as an
obligation to provide legal assistance to the poor and indigent. It stated that this obligation of
the State was not merely, socio-economic or political but is also constitutional by reason of
Articles 14 and 22(1).

Further the report stated that the legislation and rules so made by the government should not
be another piece of legislation made with the reference of any foreign legislation as there is a
marked difference between socio-economic conditions prevailing in advanced countries and
those prevailing in developing countries like India.

It also emphasized on having legal aid programmes and that the organization for effectuating
the legal service programme must be responsive to the poor in giving legal service and must
not be mechanical and wooden in its approach. Even after, such a programme is introduced
there must be a continuous examination of its utility and its responsiveness to the poor.

The report also in detail dealt with the true scope and extent of the legal aid. It recommended
that the question is what costs, charges and expenses to be incurred by a litigant in court
should be provided from the legal aid fund as part of legal aid scheme. The court fees
constitute one of the largest constituents of legal expenses involved in a proceeding in a court
of law. Instead of providing necessary funds to the assisted person to make payment of court
fees the State should by legislation remit court fees in case of an assisted person. The scheme
of legal aid should not be based on class or status.

The report in detail stated the constitution and the working of different legal committees:

(a) The Taluka Legal Aid Committee.- It was recommended that there shall be a Taluka
Legal Aid Committee in every Taluka having a court of Civil Judge (Junior Division) or
Judicial magistrate, It shall have power to deal with the applications for legal aid in
proceedings before the Talukacourt as also before the Tenancy Tribunal situated within the

(b) The District Legal Aid Committee - The same provisions was applicable mutatis
mutandis in respect of the District Legal Committee. Apart from the District Judge and the
president of the District Bar Association, one more lawyer, a retired Judge or Magistrate or
two social workers, the other members of the Committee was to be the Government Pleader
of the District Court ex-officio, the President of the District Panchayat ex-officio and the
Principal or a teacher of law college selected by the district judge.

(c) The State Legal Aid Committee- It was to be at the apex of the entire Legal Aid
Organization and was suggested to be a High power Body composed of different social
interests dedicated to the cause of administration of legal aid. It was to have as its Chairman
the Chief Justice or a High Court Judge nominated by him. The other members of the
Committee constituted of the Advocate General, President of the High Court Bar Association
or the Vice-President, Chairman of State Bar Councilor the Vice-Chairman, one senior
member of the High Court Bar, three members of the mofussil Bar, one District Government
Pleader, District Judges of Rajkot, Baroda and Surat, Secretary, Legal Department and
Finance Secretary of the State Government, two members of the State Legislative Assembly,
Director of Backward Classes, four social workers and a teacher of law. This Committee was
to have mainly supervisory functions and lay down policies and principles for the
administration of the Legal Aid Scheme. There was to be a State Director of Legal Aid
responsible for the actual administration of the Legal Aid Programme within the State and
was to be the Chief Executive Officer of the State Legal Aid Committee. The Committee was
to exercise control over all the Legal Aid Committee in the State, and similarly the Taluka
Legal Aid Committees shall be under the control and supervision of the District Legal Aid

A special mention and recommendation was given regarding the Bail System. The bail
system caused discrimination against the poor since the poor would not be able to furnish
bail, while wealthier persons otherwise similarly situate would be able to furnish bail. The
committee giving wide powers to the magistrate suggested that if a Magistrate was satisfied
after making an inquiry into the conditions and background of the accused that the accused
has his roots in the community and is not likely to abscond, he could release the accused on
order to appear or on his own recognizance. The Magistrate must ordinarily do so unless the
Prosecutor can show that, having regard to the conditions and background of the accused,
there is a substantial risk of his non-appearance at the trial. The decision as regards the
amount of bail should be an individual decision depending on the individual financial
circumstances of the accused and the probability of his absconding. There should not be too
many adjournments on the ground that the prosecution is not ready with its witnesses. The
magistrate should be given power to order payment of costs of adjournment to the accused
where the prosecution has not taken reasonable steps to secure the presence of any witness
and the case has to be adjourned on that account.

The report stated that we as a nation really want to eradicate poverty and establish a truly
free, just and egalitarian society; the legal service programme recommended by the
Committee should be implemented wholly and in its entirety. But recognizing the difficulties
that the state government may face, it may not be possible for the State Government to
implement the whole of the legal service programme immediately in one single stage. It was,
therefore, suggested that the legal service programme may be implemented in stages
according to a phased plan. The committee recommended that the state government may
implement the legal service programme immediately in so far as it relates to the provisions of
legal aid in civil cases and cases before the administrative tribunals and also in regard to
criminal cases other than committal proceedings and cases under the Bombay prohibition act,
Bombay prevention of gambling act prevention of food adulteration act and suppression of
immoral traffic in women and girls act.

This report was followed by the EXPERT COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AID, 1973headed
by Mr. Krishna Iyer. Meanwhile there were many state initiatives taken and more state
Reports were prepared which lead to development of legal aid in the states such as Tamil
Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

On 19 May, 1976, the government of India appointed a two member committee, known as
JURIDICARE COMMITTEE, of justice P N Bhagwati as chairman and Justice
V.R.Krishna Iyer as member.

One of the purpose for setting up the committee was that ‘the central government is of the
view that an adequate and vigorous legal service program is necessary to be establish in all
the states in the country on a uniform basis’. The terms of reference of the Juridicare
committee included making ‘recommendations for the establishing and operating
comprehensive and a dynamic legal service program for effective implementations of the
socio economic measures taken or to be taken by the government including formulation of
scheme (s) for legal services.’

The Juridicare Committee’s report was titled Report On National Juridicare: Equal
Justice – Social Justice (hereinafter referred as the 1977 report). The introduction of the
1977 report made it clear that it was in continuation of the 1973 report. It said that ‘In a
sense, the present report is an extensive revision, updating, revaluating and adding to the

In an attempt to overcome the criticism of the 1973 report the Juridicare Committee
submitted an interim report furnishing a draft of the national legal services bill, 1977, which
comprehensively drew up the institutional setup for the delivery of legal services. 

The 1977 report first focused on the infrastructure of the legal services of the organization
and clearly stated that it was not to be a department of the government but an autonomous
institution headed by the Judge of the Supreme Court. The body would have representations
from Bar Associations, the Government, the Parliament and the judiciary as well as voluntary
associations and social workers and that there would be a multi-tier set up for the legal aid

The 1977 report was an amalgamation of the 1971 Gujarat report and the 1973 report but
absence of certain aspects of the legal services was conspicuous. For instance, both the 1971
Report and the 1973 report dealt with the issues arising from the criminal justice separately.
Hence it may be stated that except saying that it was continuation of the earlier reports, the
1977 Report made no reference to these aspects.

The other goals that were reiterated were: the programme ‘should not identify lawyers with
the law but should even pose them against law, wherever law is the reflection of an unjust
social order’, it had to recognize the inter relatedness of social, legal, educational and
psychological problems which beset the poor; the content of the legal services programme
was to include spreading of awareness amongst the poor about their rights, tackling the class
problems of the poor, initiating socio-legal research into the problems with a view to bringing
about reform in law and administration and helping different groups of the poor to organize

The 1977 report envisaged several modes of delivery of legal services. The primary mode
would be the providing of legal advice through various legal aid offices having both salaried
lawyers and assigned lawyers.

The 1977 Report was the latest attempt by the Central government to comprehensively
determine the issue of providing legal services to the poor. It is further submitted that there
were certain common lacunae in all the reports, which need to be noticed:

Each of the reports though suggested of setting up of setting legal aid through a network of
autonomous legal aid bodies, there was no clarity on how that could be achieved with the
state being the major contributor of funds to the programme.

The 1977 report of the committee of Justices Krishna Iyer and P.N. Bhagwati, both of the
Supreme Court, drew up a detailed scheme which envisaged public interest litigation (PIL) as
a major tool in bringing about both institutional and law reform even while it enabled easy
access to the judicial system for the poor. Their report, as those of the previous committees,
was ignored. This explained partly the impatience of these two judges, in the post-emergency
phase, in making the institution appear responsive to the needs of the population that had
stood distanced from it. The two judges played a major role in spearheading the PIL

National Legal Service Authority

NLSA was constituted on 5th December, 1995. His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand,
Judge, Supreme Court of India took over as the Executive Chairman of National Legal
Services Authority on 17the July, 1997. Soon after assuming the office, His Lordship initiated
steps for making the National Legal Services Authority functional. The first Member
Secretary of the authority joined in December, 1997 and by January, 1998 the other officers
and staff were also appointed. By February, 1998 the office of National Legal Services
Authority became properly functional for the first time.

The First Annual Meet of the State Legal Services Authorities was held on 12th of
September, 1998 at VigyanBhawan, New Delhi which was presided over by His Lordship
Hon. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand, the then Executive Chairman, NALSA. His Lordship Hon. Mr.
Justice S.B. Majmudar, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chairman, Supreme Court Legal
Services Committee, the Members of the Central Authority and the Executive Chairmen and
Member Secretaries of the State Legal Services Authorities attended this Meet. In this Meet,
the progress of on-going schemes which had been initiated by NALSA was examined and
decisions of far reaching implications were taken with a view to strengthen and streamline
legal aid programmes in the country. The Second Annual Meet of the State Legal Services
Authorities was held at Jubilee Hall, Hyderabad on 9th of October, 1999. This Meet was
inaugurated by His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand, the Chief Justice of India and
Patron-in-Chief, NALSA. Hon. Mr. Justice S.P. Bharucha, Executive Chairman, NALSA
delivered the keynote address. Other dignitaries present at the inaugural function included
Hon. Mr. Justice S.B. Majmudar, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chairman, Supreme
Court Legal Services Committee, Hon. Mr. Justice M.S. Liberhan, Chief Justice of Andhra
Pradesh High Court and Members of Central Authority.

In pursuance of the call given by His Lordship Hon. Dr. Justice A.S. Anand, the Chief Justice
of India in the First Annual Meet, 9th of November is being celebrated every year by all
Legal Services Authorities as "Legal Services Day".
NALSA is laying great deal of emphasis on legal literacy and legal awareness campaign.
Almost all the State Legal Services Authorities are identifying suitable and trustworthy
NGOs through whom legal literacy campaign may be taken to tribal, backward and far-flung
areas in the country. The effort is to publicise legal aid schemes so that the target group, for
whom Legal Services Authorities Act has provided for free legal aid, may come to know
about the same and approach the concerned legal services functionaries.

NALSA has also called upon State Legal Services Authorities to set up legal aid cells in jails
so that the prisoners lodged therein are provided prompt and efficient legal aid to which they
are entitled by virtue of section 12 of Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

Constitution of state legal service authority:

A State Authority shall consist of -

(a) the Chief Justice of the High Court who shall be the Patron-in-Chief;

{b) a serving or retired Judge of the High Court, to be nominated by the Governor, in
consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, who shall be the Executive Chairman;

(c) such number of other Members, possessing such experience and qualifications, as may be
prescribed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation
with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

The State Government shall, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, appoint
a person belonging to the State Higher Judicial Service not lower in rank than that of a
District Judge, as the Member-Secretary of the State Authority, to exercise such powers and
perform such duties under the Executive Chairman of the State Authority as may be
prescribed by that Government or as may be assigned to him by the Executive Chairman of
that Authority.

A person functioning as Secretary of a State Legal Aid & Advice Board immediately before
the date of constitution of the State Authority may be appointed as Member-Secretary of that
Authority, even if he is not qualified to be appointed as such under this sub-section, for a
period not exceeding five years.
The administrative expenses of the State Authority, including the salaries, allowances and
pensions payable to the Member-Secretary, officers and other employees of the State
Authority shall be defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of the State.

High Court Legal Services Committee:

The State Authority shall constitute a Committee to be called the High Court Legal Services
Committee for every High Court, for the purpose of exercising such powers and performing
such functions as may be determined by regulations made by the State Authority.

The Committee shall consist of -

a) a sitting Judge of the High Court who shall be the Chairman; and 

b) such number of other Members possessing such experience and qualifications as may be
determined by regulations made by the State Authority, to be nominated by the Chief Justice
of the High Court.

Constitution of the District Legal Services Authority:

A District Authority shall consist of :-

a) the District Judge who shall be its Chairman; and

b) such number of other Members, possessing such experience and qualifications as may be
prescribed by the State Government, to be nominated by that Government in consultation
with the Chief Justice of the High Court.

The administrative expenses of every District Authority, including the salaries, allowances
and pensions payable to the Secretary, officers and other employees of the District Authority
shall be defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of the State.

Supreme Court on Legal Aid

The linkage between Article 21 and the right to free legal aid was forged in the decision in
HussainaraKhatoon v. State of Bihar,12 where the court was appalled at the plight of
thousands of undertrials languishing in the jails in Bihar for years on end without ever being
represented by a lawyer. The court declared that "there can be no doubt that speedy trial, and
by speedy trial, we mean reasonably expeditious trial, is an integral and essential part of the
fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21." The court pointed out that
Article 39-Aemphasised that free legal service was an inalienable element of ‘reasonable, fair

12 AIR 1979 SC 1360.

and just’ procedure and that the right to free legal services was implicit in the guarantee of
Article 21. In his inimitable style Justice Bhagwati declared:

"Legal aid is really nothing else but equal justice in action. Legal aid is in fact the delivery
system of social justice. If free legal services are not provided to such an accused, the trial
itself may run the risk of being vitiated as contravening Article 21 and we have no doubt that
every State Government would try to avoid such a possible eventuality".

Further in the case of HussainaraKhatoon&Ors. (V) v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar,13

Patna Justice Bhagwati held that: "it’s the constitutional right of every accused person who is
unable to engage a lawyer and secure legal services on account of reasons such as poverty,
indigence or incommunicado situation, to have free legal services provided to him by the
State and the State is under a constitutional mandate to provide a free lawyer to such accused
person if the needs of justice so require. If free legal services are not provided to such an
accused, the trial itself may run the risk of being vitiated as contravening Article 21 and it is
hoped that every State Government would try to avoid such a possible eventuality."

Two years thereafter, in the case of Khatri&Ors. (II) v. State of Bihar &Ors.,14 the court
answered the question the right to free legal aid to poor or indigent accused who are
incapable of engaging lawyers. It held that: "the state is constitutionally bound to provide
such aid not only at the stage of trial but also when they are first produced before the
magistrate or remanded from time to time and that such a right cannot be denied on the
ground of financial constraints or administrative inability or that the accused did not ask for
it. Magistrates and Sessions Judges must inform the accused of such rights. The right to free
legal services is an essential ingredient of reasonable, fair and just procedure for a person
accused of an offence and it must be held implicit in the guarantee of Article 21 and the State
is under a constitutional mandate to provide a lawyer to an accused person if the
circumstances of the case and the needs of justice so require, provided of course the accused
person does not object to the provision of such lawyer. The State cannot avoid this obligation
by pleading financial or administrative inability or that none of the aggrieved prisoners asked
for any legal aid at the expense of the State. The only qualification would be that the offence

13 Ibid.
14 (1981) 1 SCC 627.
charged against the accused is such that on conviction, it would result in a sentence of
imprisonment and is of such a nature that the circumstances of the case and the needs of
social justice require that he should be given free legal representation. There may, however,
be cases involving offences such as economic offences or offences against law prohibiting
prostitution or child abuse and the like, where social justice may require that free legal or
child abuse and the like, where social justice may require that free legal services need not be
provided by the State."

He reiterated this in Suk Das v. Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh,15 and said "It may
therefore now be taken as settled law that free legal assistance at State cost is a fundamental
right of a person accused of an offence which may involve jeopardy to his life or personal
liberty and this fundamental right is implicit in the requirement of reasonable, fair and just
procedure prescribed by Article 21." This part of the narration would be incomplete without
referring to the other astute architect of human rights jurisprudence, Justice Krishna Iyer.
In M.H. Hoskot v. State of Maharashtra,16 he declared: If a prisoner sentenced to
imprisonment is virtually unable to exercise his constitutional and statutory right of appeal
inclusive of special leave to appeal (to the Supreme Court) for want of legal assistance, there
is implicit in the Court under Article 142 read with Articles 21 and 39-A of the Constitution,
power to assign counsel for such imprisoned individual ‘for doing complete justice.

In Khatri& Others v. St. of Bihar & others,17 Bhagwati J. observed:

Right to free legal aid, just, fail and reasonable procedures is a fundamental right (Khatoon’s
Case). It is elementary that the jeopardy to his personal liberty arises as soon as the person is
arrested and is produced before a magistrate for it is at this stage that he gets the 1st
opportunity to apply for bail and obtain his release as also to resist remain to police or jail
custody. This is the stage at which and accused person needs competent legal advice and
representation. No procedure can be said to be just, fair and reasonable which denies legal
advice representation to the accused at this stage. Thus, state is under a constitutional
obligation to provide free to aid to the accused not only at the stage of.... Every individual of

15 (1986) 25 SCC 401.

16 AIR 1978 SC 1548.
17 Id. 14.
the society are entitled as a matter of prerogative.

In Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain,18 the Court said:

"Rule of Law is basic structure of constitution of India. There ought to be a violation of the
fundamental right or prerogatives, or privileges, only then remedy goes to Court of Law. In
absence of legal aid, trial is vitiated."

In, State of Haryana v. Darshana Devi,19 the Court said: "the poor shall not be priced out of
the justice market by insistence on court-fee and refusal to apply the exemptive provisions of
order XXXIII, CPC. The state of Haryana, mindless of the mandate of equal justice to the
indigent under the Magna Carta of republic, expressed in Article 14 and stressed in Article
39A of the constitution, has sought leave to appeal against the order of the high court which
has rightly extended the 'pauper' provisions to auto-accident claims. Order XXXIII will apply
to tribunals, which have the trappings of the civil court.

Civil procedure code, 1908 - order XXXIII, rule 9A - it is a public duty of each great branch
of government to obey the rule of law and uphold the tryst with the constitution by making
rules to effectuate legislation meant to help the poor.

Justice Bhagwati while delivering the judgment in the case of Kara Aphasia v. State of
Bihar, where the petitioners were young boys of 12-13 years were arrested, and were still
languishing in jail for over 8 years. They also alleged to have been kept in leg irons and
forced to do work outside the jail, directed that the petitioners must be provided legal
representation by a fairly competent lawyer at the cost of the State, since legal aid in a
criminal case is a fundamental right implicit in Article 21.

In Centre for Legal Research &Anr. v. State of Kerala,20 Chief Justice Bhagwati took a step
further and laid down norms or guide-lines laid down for State to follow in giving support
and cooperation to voluntary organizations and social action groups in operating legal aid
programmers and organizing legal aid camps and lokadalats or nitimelas.

18 AIR 1975 SC 2299.

19 1979 AIR 855, 1979 SCR (3) 184.
20 AIR 1986 SC 1322.
While delivering the judgment Bhagwati, C.J., stated that the writ petition raised a question
as to whether voluntary organizations or social action groups engaged in the legal aid
programmed should be supported by the State Government and if so to what extent and under
what conditions.

"There can be no doubt that if the legal aid programme is to succeed it must involve public
participation. The State Government undoubtedly has an obligation under Article 39-A of the
Constitution which embodies a directive principle of State policy to set up a comprehensive
and effective legal aid programme in order to ensure that the operation of the legal system
promotes justice on the basis of equality. But we have no doubt that despite the sense of
social commitment which animates many of our officers in the Administration, no legal aid
programme can succeed in reaching the people if its operations remains confined in the hands
of the Administration. It is absolutely essential that people should be involved in the legal aid
programme because the legal aid programme is not charity or bounty but it is a social
entitlement of the people and those in need of legal assistance cannot be looked upon as mere
beneficiaries of the legal aid programme but they should be regarded as participants in it. If
we want to secure people's participation and involvement in the legal aid programme, we
think the best way of securing it is to operate through voluntary organizations and social
action groups. These organizations are working amongst the deprived and vulnerable sections
of the community at the grass-root level and they know what are the problems and difficulties
encountered by these neglected sections of Indian humanity. It is now acknowledged
throughout the country that the legal aid programme which is needed for the purpose of
reaching social justice to the people cannot afford to remain confined to the traditional or
litigation oriented legal aid programme but it must, taking into account the socio-economic
conditions prevailing in the country, adopt a more dynamic posture and take within its sweep
what we may call strategic legal aid programme camps, encouragement of public interest
litigation and holding of lokadalats or nitimelas for bringing about settlements of disputes
whether pending in courts or outside. The assistance of voluntary agencies and social action
groups must therefore be taken by the State for the purpose of operating the legal aid
programme in its widest and most comprehensive sense, and this is an obligation which flows
directly from Article 39-A of the Constitution. It is also necessary to lay down norms which
should guide the State in lending its encouragement and support to voluntary organizations
and social action groups in operating legal aid programmes and organizing legal aid camps
and lokadalats or nitimelas. We are of the view that the following norms should provide
sufficient guidance to the State in this behalf and we would direct that the State Government
shall, in compliance with its obligations under Article 39-A of the Constitution extend its
cooperation and support to the following categories of voluntary organizations and social
action groups in running the legal aid programme and organizing legal aid camps and
lokadalats or nitimelas."

The role which the law schools play in the provision of legal aid has been an aspect which
has largely been ignored in academic discourse. Lesser still has been written about their role
in alternative dispute resolution in India. It is due to the lack of recognition of the role that
Clinical Legal Aid plays that the problems of the institutions continue to plague legal aid in
The role of law schools in training lawyers is a concept which is relatively new. Law
schoolstraditionally taught the theory of the law while the job of training of legal
professionals was left to the Bar in the form of apprenticeships.21 This changed to some
extent with the introduction of the case-book method in the 1900s at Harvard. However, this
was found to be insufficient and a need was felt tocounter-balance this with practical
experience.22 The solution was found in the form of “legal dispensaries” or clinics, inspired
by the model of free medical aid in medical colleges. Here, poor persons could come for free
consultation and advice.23While most of the work of these clinics focused on poverty-based
issues, the bulk of it was in the nature of counseling which was not court-centric.
With the growing demand for “relevance in education” legal education shifted its attention to
social issues. Over the years, due to the specializations in various areas of law, there has been
a diversification in the areas in which these clinics operate and range from areas as diverse as

21Dubin (1998), pp. 1463-1466.

22 “The clinic thus becomes a 'case book' - not, however, of dead letters descriptive of past controversies, but
always of living issues in the throbbing life of the day, the life the student is now living.", William Rowe, quoted
in Barry, Margaret et al.(2000), p. 7.
23Dubin (1998), p. 1463.
taxation and intellectual property to a specialized branch called “street legal aid” wherein
day-to-day issues as well as poverty-centric issues are addressed. These clinics exist in many
different forms, depending on local social and political circumstances and sometimes the
available sources of funding.24
The objective of clinical legal education, therefore, has been two-fold. Their primary aim is
to ensure that students get experiential exposure to diverse situations and the secondary aim
is to ensure that the objectives of social justice are met by providing assistance to those who
faced real legal problems in diverse field.25
The origins of legal education in India, however, are quite different. Legal education in India
followed the general colonial model of producing clerks, not managers. Its primary goal was
to support the existing financial interests of England, certainly not to reform the local legal
profession or promote some sense of social justice. While at the time of independence, there
were approximately 500 law schools operating in India and there was a real chance that they
could be used to promote social justice initiatives through the tool of legal aid. However, due
to the inability of the law schools as well as be body governing them, the Bar Council of
India, to provide professional and infrastructural support, this was not transformed into
Some law schools however, took the initiatives such as the Delhi University to carry out a
broad-ranging Legal Aid Clinic and conducted programmes such as prison-legal aid
programmes and representation in the beggars courts.27 However, these programmes suffered
from the problems of scope. Also, due to lack of institutional support, its success was short-
lived. With the government doing a considerable amount of work, albeit beset by problems of
scope and problems of institution, legal aid in law schools were gradually edged out.28
The emergence of the five-year law course at the National Law School, Bangalore and other
such similar institutions started pursuant to the Justice Ahmedi Report in 1994, has helped

24 Bloch (2008), p. 123.

25 Bloch, and Prasad, (2006), p. 165.
26 Ibid, 172.
27 Ibid, 176.
28 This statement is largely due to the fact that there is very little material on record to show the existence of
vibrant legal aid programmes in law schools. I take the example of Delhi University due to the availability of
some academic material on it.
at least to some extent to enable clinical legal aid to be backed by reasonable professional and
institutional support. Further, with the onus squarely on the law-schools to train lawyers
rather than leaving it to the Bar, there is a heightened realization for the incorporation of
clinical legal education into the curriculum. Most significantly, the Bar Council too passed
rules to govern these institutions and has mandated that for accreditation there must exist a
functional legal aid clinic within the law school.29
However, this regulation remains largely on paper and has not been seriously implemented.
Whatever little has happened however, is that previous initiatives such as those by the Delhi
University which follow the traditional model of legal aid have been replicated. It is my
claim therefore, that there needs to be a serious rethinking about clinical legal aid as it has for
the most part failed capture the essence of the dynamism is the field of legal education which
was sought to be brought about by setting up of law schools across the country. Therefore, the
conflation which exists between Clinical Legal Aid and State-sponsored legal aid must be
resolved thereby setting to rest the problems of the institution because while State-sponsored
legal aid is statute-based and therefore heavily bureaucratic, Clinical Legal Aid due to the
lack of regulation offers much more flexibility which goes unutilized.
29 Rule 31, Chapter III, Bar Council of India Rules on Legal Education, 2008.

Clinical Legal Education took off in the 1960s as a response to the social and political
movements of the time and the perceived irrelevance of traditional legal education.30 It
featured service to poor clients and lay advocates interested in attacking poverty and racism.
It represented first and foremost a commitment to social justice and the law. But learning
legal skills has also been an important dimension of clinics, defined clinical education as “a
lawyer-client experience under law school supervision for credit.”

Clinical legal education is in the midst of an exciting period of growth and development,
prompting clinicians around the world to reflect on what clinical education’s remarkable
successes over the past forty years mean for its future.31 One important item on this agenda
that has been on the minds of law teachers in India and the United States, among other
countries, is the status of clinical legal education’s traditional social justice mission.32 There
has been a link between social justice and clinical legal education in India and the United
States since the late 1960s and early 1970s, when modern clinical legal education was first
coming into its own and law schools in both countries introduced the new clinical teaching
methodology through the establishment of legal aid clinics. Clinical education has always had
a broader goal – to teach law students about what lawyers do and to understand lawyers’
professional role in the legal system – but it carried out that goal in its early years almost

30Am. Bar Ass’n Section of Legal Education and Admissions to The Bar, Am. Bar Ass’n, Legal Education and
Professional Development – An Educational Continuum, Report of the Task Force on Law Schools and The
Profession: Narrowing The Gap 133-41 (1992). [Hereinafter MACCRATE REPORT].
31For example, the 6th International Clinical Conference co-sponsored by UCLA and the University of London
in 2005 carried the theme “Enriching Clinical Education” and included among its purposes reflection on “the
remarkable growth of the clinical movement worldwide.” See conference brochure (on file with authors). See
also Margaret Martin Barry, Jon C. Dubin, & Peter A. Joy, Clinical Education for the Millennium: The Third
Wave, 7 CLIN. L. REV. 1, 57-60 (2000) (discussing the global aspects of clinical legal education’s future).

32Preserving and supporting a social justice focus for clinical legal education around the world is the key
mission of the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE). The GAJE website is at
exclusively in the context of having students provide various forms of legal aid services.33
Over time, the legal aid dimension of clinical education has been replaced to some extent by
a more professional skills-oriented focus as the clinical movement has made important and
necessary gains in the legal academy, especially in the United States.34 Although social
justice remains at the heart of many clinical programs, the effort to obtain broad acceptance
of clinical legal education by the legal academy and the bar – realized already to a substantial
degree in a number of countries around the world – seems often to undercut its traditional
social justice mission.

Clinical Legal Education includes not only the clinical courses but also practice-oriented
courses and activities included in or offered outside the curriculum.

Clinical Legal Education is more than a vehicle for the study of lawyering and the legal
profession. Clinical Legal Education should be devised and implemented; this will give law
students a deeper and more meaningful understanding of law.

The subject-matter or content of Clinical Legal Education and the Clinical method of law
teaching can be separated; the subjects sought to be taught in a clinical course or program can
be presented in traditional classes, and the clinical teaching method can be utilized in courses
outside the usual “clinical” subject areas.35

33See generally Frank S. Bloch & Iqbal Ishar, Legal Aid, Public Service and Clinical Legal Education: Future
Directions from India and the United States, 12 MICH. J. INT’L L.96 (1990). See also Clinical Legal
Education: Concept and Concern, A handbook on Clinical Legal Education 17 (N.R. Madhava Menon ed.,
1998). This linkage existed also in earlier efforts to introduce clinical legal education in the United States, but it
found special strength at this time.

34See Stephen Wizner, Beyond Skills Training, 7 CLIN. L. REV. 327, 332 (2001) (“clinical legal education has
tended to emphasize skills training and professional development over social objectives”). But see Peter A. Joy,
Political Interference with Clinical Legal Education: Denying Access to Justice, 74 TULANE L. REV. 235, 268
(1999) (describing clinical education’s “twin goals” of teaching lawyering skills and professional values and
providing legal services to low-income clients as “inextricably intertwined”).
35 Richard Lewis, “Clinical Legal Education Revisited” Professor of Law, Cardiff university, Wales, United
Kingdom, Pg. 11 [available at:] [viewed on: 25/06/2009]
Clinical Legal Education in India has its roots in both the Legal Aid and Legal Education
Reform Movements.

Formal Legal Education started in 1855, in India. Many commissions and Committees were
set up for the development of Clinical Legal Education in India. Legal Education has gone
through many stages of development. Some of these stages are –

The Bombay Legal Education Committee concluded in 1949, recommended that practical
courses should be made compulsory only for students who choose to enter the profession of
law and the teaching method should include seminars or group discussions, moot court
competitions etc.

The 14th Report of the Law Commission of India recognized the importance of professional
training and for a balance of both academic and vocational training. It recommended that
University training must be followed by a professional course concentrating on practical
knowledge—but it suggested that the professional course be made compulsory only for those
who chose to practice law in the courts. The Commission’s 1958 Report concentrated on
institutionalizing and improving the overall standards of legal education. In that regard, the
Report also discussed teaching methods and suggested that seminars, discussions, monk
trials, and simulation exercises should be introduced--- in addition to lectures. Thus, although
the Commission’s Report didn’t deal directly with improving skills, it did so indirectly by
supporting the use of teaching methods that could be more helpful in developing various

A link between expressed Legal Aid and Legal Education Reform was published in 1970s by
the Expert Committee on Legal Aid of the Ministry of Law and Justice.

After 5 years of debate over a 3-year v/s 5-year L.L.B. course, which began during a 1977
National Seminar on Legal Education at Bombay, the Bar Council of India (BCI)
unanimously agreed to introduce the new 5-year course from July 1982, open to students
after 10+2. The BCI recommended practical training in the curriculum.

Reports of University Grants Commission (UGC) also played important roles in the history
of Clinical Legal Education and report emphasized the role of legal education in developing
law as a hermeneutical profession, explaining that lawyers must be taught a variety of skills
and sensibilities. It outlined the objectives of reformed teaching as making students more
responsive to learning and making them demonstrate their understanding of law.

The next important step in the evolution of Clinical Legal Education began at the conference
of Chief Justice of India in 1993, which resolved the Chief Justice shall constitute a
committee to suggest appropriate steps that should be taken to assure that law graduates
acquire sufficient experience before they become entitled to practice in the courts. It found
that the general standard of law colleges in country was deteriorating and that the syllabus
should be revised to include practical subjects so that the students could get professional

Bar Council of India (BCI) report 1996 on NLSIU (The National Law School of India)—The
Bar Council of India issued a circular in1997 using its authority under the Advocates’ Act
1961 directing all universities and law schools to revise their curriculums. It included 21
compulsory courses and 2 optional courses, leaving Universities free to add more courses.
The circular also mandated the inclusion of 4 practical papers. Law schools have been
required to introduce these 4 practical papers since academic year 1998-99, which was
viewed as a big step toward introducing Clinical Legal Education formally into the

In order to achieve the objects of the clinical programme, NLSIU offers a wide range of
opportunities in clinical programmes, compulsory as well as optional, to the students. At
present the compulsory clinical courses are—(a) Client Interviewing, counseling, And
Alternate Dispute Resolution methods; (b) Litigation Clinic; (c) special Clinic integrated with
compulsory placements of two months from III year to V year of the 5 year LL.B. course.
The optional component of the scheme includes: a) Moot Court (b) Legal services Clinics; (c)
community-based Law Reforms Competition. In addition to the above, NLSIU curriculum
carries a full course of 100 marks taught outside the declared clinical courses. This is a
compulsory course on Professional Ethics and Law Office management taught with
assistance of legal practitioners.
The 2nd UGC report of particular interest to Clinical Legal Education was prepared by a
Curriculum Development Committee, which was asked to upgrade the syllabi of the LL.B.
course. The proposed curriculum also includes several subjects which have a potential to be
taught clinically in order to offer instruction in various values and skills required for a new
lawyer. Also it introduced a clinical aspect in the LL.M. program.

Report of the Law Commission of India - 2002 stated that “the Commission considers that
Clinical Legal Education may be made mandatory subject.”

Current Assessment: One can trace the development of Clinical Legal education in India to
the efforts of a few law schools in the late 1960s. For example, faculty and students at Delhi
University established a legal service clinic in 1969 on a voluntary basis. Banaras Hindu
University was the first to introduce a clinical course, in the early 1970s. This was an
optional course offered to a limited group of 30 students with academic credit for 200 marks.
The course included courts visits, participation in a legal aid clinic in the school, and an
internship in chambers of lawyers. While each of these early efforts was significant, no steps
were taken during those years to institutionalize Clinical Legal Education. A national
movement to do so was begun with the opening of the National Law School of India
University in Bangalore, established by the Bar Council in 1987 as a model for legal
education reform. The National Law School’s curriculum includes several clinical courses,
including more recently course that cover the subjects included in the practical papers
mandated by the Bar Council of India in 1997. Over the past 10 years, seven other national
law schools have been established.

Delhi University

In the mid 1960s, Delhi University introduced the case method of teaching followed by a
few other universities. In 1969, a legal services clinic was set up by some teachers and
students of Delhi law Faculty as a purely voluntary activity mainly to provide legal services
to inmates of prisons and custodial institutions. The programmes were developed on an ad
hoc basis and faculty supervision was marginal. The clinic acted more as an investigating and
referral agency rather than as a centre for delivery of services. Student participation was
neither consistent nor was the programme supported by the prescribed curriculum for the
LL.B. degree. There was no attempt to integrate the clinic with the curriculum excepting
perhaps some support derived through the introduction of an optional course called “Law and
Poverty" in the second year which carried a clinical orientation .The clinic continued to
attract some students every year and it diversified its programmes creating a lively interest in
clinical programmes amongst an increasing number of faculty members and students.

Every year the clinic organizes a week-long orientation course informing the students of the
clinics' programmes and encouraging them to participate voluntarily. The programme
continues to be voluntary and extra-curricular even today.

Delhi Legal Aid Clinic despite being a purely extra-curricular activity did accomplish some
impressive results during the recent past. Two Lok Adalats were organized in Delhi in
1985-86 by the clinic in collaboration with Delhi Legal Aid and Advice Board. Over 150
students were involved in this project another set of students assisted in reaching legal
services to the victims of the Bhopal- gas-tragedy .In collaboration with the Department of
Adult and Continuing Education, students and teachers of Campus Law Centre now support
legal literacy projects amongst the students of several under-graduate colleges of Delhi
University and through those students in as many communities in the Union Territory. These
activities cannot be called clinical education as such. They are not structured that way; nor
are they included in the law curriculum. Supervision is marginal. Though they do contribute
to the learning experiences of a few law students in a clinical setting, they lack the academic
frame-work for self-directed education. They are more service-oriented programmes which
desperately seek academic recognition from the faculty and curricular planners.

Aligarh Muslim University

Aligarh Muslim University introduced in its third-year LL.B. class a course on "Advocacy"
which introduces students to fact investigation, legal research and writing, court procedures,
litigation strategies and issues of professional ethics. However, it does not go far in
introducing clinical methodology in terms of self -directed learning on the part of students. In
1985-86, AMU organized few legal aid camps and helped organize a Lok Adalat .A legal aid
clinic in the law school is said to be working with limited programmes.

Banaras Hindu University

On the recommendation of a faculty Committee, Banaras Hindu University Law School
introduced an optional course of Clinical Legal Education in the Vth and VIth semesters with
credit for a maximum of 200 marks .The course is open for 30 students each year who are
selected on the basis of aptitude and performance in written tests. The method of teaching is
through lectures and fieldwork. Fieldwork includes court visits, assignment in the law school
legal aid clinic, socio-legal surveying on specific problems and internship in the chamber of
lawyers. A faculty committee headed by the Dean manages the clinical course and
programmes. The Legal Aid Clinic was set up in the law school under the supervision of a
retired judge who was taken as a part-time Professor of the school on a token honorarium.
Presently there is a faculty member designated as director of the clinic. Funds for clinic
activities initially came from students' contribution, then from the National Service Scheme
of the University and later from the University itself. The University Grants Commission
provided a special grant for the clinic to expand its legal aid activities to the neighboring rural
areas. The clinic has its own bus to transport students on fieldwork.

Students share the required time between the court, the field and the legal aid clinics' office.
Each week the students are expected to spend at least one day in court and report at the office
of the assigned lawyer on two occasions.

Another day they are required to spend in the legal aid office doing the work assigned by the
teacher in charge. The students and teachers associated with the clinical legal programme go
to the villages around the city and undertake programmes of legal literacy, socio-legal
surveys on the implementation of welfare legislation and attempt conciliated settlement of
disputes through legal aid camps. The students keep separate diaries in which they record
their experiences, do the written assignments and get the comments of the teachers / lawyers.
The court work is jointly evaluated by the teacher and the lawyer for a maximum of 50
marks. The teacher in charge of the legal aid clinic grades the work of the students in the
clinic for a maximum of 50 marks.

It is interesting to note that clinical legal education at Banaras Law School revolves almost
entirely around the legal aid clinic and its projects. Although it continues to function with
some success it reflects the troubles from which legal aid schemes generally suffer and it
does not receive full faculty support. Further, the clinical opportunities provided are limited
to a small section of final year students.

During the nineteen seventies a report was prepared by the committee on legal education
headed by Chairman Mr. Justice Ormrod which emphasized the need to combine the
traditional legal education with instructions in skills and techniques which are essential to
enable a person to follow a learned profession. Realizing the error of largely relying upon the
apprenticeship method, ignoring the new situations which had developed over a period of
time it recommended that new ways and means should be evolved to enable use of new
facilities for educating the professional person by supplementing them with training in
professional skill and technique. It emphasized the need for a synthesis between the academic
and professional and there integration into a coherent whole noticing the isolation between
both. It recommended three stages of legal education, the academic stage, the professional
stage and the continuing education or training. This would enable the individual not only to
equip himself with the basic knowledge of the law but also acquaint himself with the skills
and techniques so essential to the practice of law. The idea of continuing education or training
would enable him to adapt himself to the ever changing scenario in the field of law, so vital
for career advancement.


Clinical Legal Education gathered importance globally due to its potential to improve the
quality of legal education. As law graduates in India directly enter legal profession without
any further training or any Bar Examination Law Colleges in India share the entire
responsibility of skill training. As a result Clinical Legal Education assumes more importance
in India. The concept of practical problem solving, whether by working in a laboratory or in
the field, as an important means of developing skills has been in acknowledged since time
immemorial. However, it was in 1901, that a Russian professor, Alexander Lyublinsky, first
proposed Clinical Education in law on similar lines as in medicine.

The earliest reference on Clinical Legal Education in United States could be traced in the
year of 1917. Since that time, Clinical teaching has become an integral part of legal education
in most developed and developing countries. The global Clinical movement started taking
hold in the late 1960s; however, by that time Law Schools in the U.S. took the lead in
providing Clinical Legal Education. In most of the countries initially the primary focus of
Clinical Legal Education was on legal aid, social justice and professional responsibility.
However, this focus began to shift from client and community service to teaching skills,
particularly in U.S. due to fading of student interest in public interest work. 

Thus, the concept of Clinical Legal Education has evolved and contributed a new pedagogy
in the teaching of law. It, to a large extent, also plays a crucial role in bridging the gap
between the theory and real-life practice of law, or at least the environment in which they

The dearth of clinical legal education programs in the first half of the twentieth century
reflects several conditions that law schools faced in that era.

First, law schools were distinguishing themselves from apprenticeships, and clinical legal
education efforts to create "model law offices" as part of law school education did not further
this market differentiation.

Second, law schools of this era were terribly under-funded and clinical legal education
courses with intensive faculty supervision were not as economical as large classes employing
the casebook Socratic method.

Third, law school teachers of this era disagreed about the value – and feasibility - of teaching
lawyering skills other than legal analysis. For example, a 1944 Report of the Association of
American Law Schools (AALS) Curriculum Committee, primarily authored by Karl
Llewellyn, noted that the "current case-instruction is somehow failing to do the job of
producing reliable professional competence on the by-product side in half or more of our end
product, our graduates.

Fourth, the period from the 1920's to the 1940's was marked by ABA and AALS efforts to
create and raise standards for law schools, and none of these standards focused on
encouraging or requiring clinical legal education experiences.

These above four factors combined not only to limit the number of clinical programs but also
to stunt the growth of clinical pedagogy by limiting the number of law faculty teaching
clinical courses.
In the 1950's, there was no single vision of clinical legal education and the concept of a law
school "legal aid clinic" encompassed any "law school sponsored program for law student
work on legal aid cases."36 A 1951 study of clinical programs identified twenty-eight clinics
run by law schools, independent legal societies, or public defender offices. At five schools, a
clinical legal education experience was mandated, but most schools offered clinics as
electives or extra-curricular activities. The work assigned to students varied among programs,
but typically included client and witness interviews, drafting pleadings, and preparation of
legal documents. Some programs gave students the opportunity to negotiate matters with
clients' creditors, and at least nine law school clinics provided opportunities for trials and
other court appearances. Most clinics attempted to have students work on cases from
beginning to end. Student supervision was cited as a "major problem," and the task of
supervision was often delegated to experienced students, who supervised less experienced
students. At ten of the twenty-eight law schools with some form of clinical program in 1951,
students did not earn any academic credit for their work. At four schools, clinic credit was
available as part of a student's credits for a general course on legal practice. At the remaining
fourteen schools, students only earned between one and three hours of credit for clinic work.

By the end of the 1950's, thirty-five law schools reported "some form of legal aid clinic."37 In
thirteen of these law schools, legal aid clinics were located inside the schools. In a few law
schools, all or most law students were required to do some legal aid work. In fifteen laws
schools, students were able to earn limited academic credit for clinic work. In only five law
schools, supervising faculty were able to receive teaching credit for their clinical courses.

Although the number of clinical legal education programs increased slightly from the late
1940's to the early 1950's, the late 1950's ended on a note of relative stagnation for the
nascent clinical legal education movement. There were several different models of clinical
programs, and no generally accepted definition or description. Schools defined "clinical"
programs to include both credit-earning and non-credit-earning real-life experiences for law
students either in programs located within the law school or offsite at legal aid or public
defender offices. The level of faculty involvement and supervision varied greatly, and clinical

36 Quintin Johnstone, Law School Clinics, 3 J. Legal Educ. 535, 535 (1951).
37 AALS Proceedings 121, 121 (1959).
experiences existed on the fringes of the law school curriculum. The limited growth of
clinical programs during this decade may reflect the fact that clinical instruction was only one
of several experiments under way to address perceived deficiencies of the casebook method.
Some of the other "experiments" included simulated trial practice courses, legal research and
writing courses, drafting courses, and subject matter seminars based on simulated problems.

Notwithstanding these "experiments" – many of which are now standard fare in virtually all
law schools – the 1960's witnessed continued complaints by law students and some law
faculty about large classes, the dominance of the casebook method, and the lack of writing
opportunities. Of all the curricular experiments since the introduction of the casebook method
in the late nineteenth century, "the concept of clinical legal education was to prove the most
important." In fact, clinical legal education is "so often called the most significant change in
how law was taught since the invention of the case method that it now sounds trite.38Until
Clinical programs entered the scene, skills training and social justice work were for all intents
and purposes, off the legal education agenda. Legal doctrines dominated the Law School
syllabi, with virtually all instruction offered through classroom courses dominated by
traditional lectures in India. Legal education was “Law School”, not “lawyer school.”

Introduction of Clinical Legal Education changed this scenario. Clinical Legal Education is
directed towards developing the perception, attitudes, skills and sense of responsibilities
which the lawyers are expected to assume when they complete their professional education.
Thus, Clinical Legal Education provides students with opportunities for professional and
intellectual development and prepares them for the practice of law, as competent, and socially
as well as professionally responsible lawyers. Clinical Legal Education took its roots in India
in the late 1960s. But Clinical Legal Education becomes integral part of curriculum only
when BCI introduced four practical papers to improve standards in legal education in late
90’s. These papers are aimed at providing practical training to law students. Until these
papers were introduced in the curriculum, very little effort was made by Law Colleges to
train students in advocacy skills. Clinical Legal Education in India offers an opportunity to
make integrative transformation of legal education and at the same time make legal
profession socially relevant. To make such a transformation Clinical Legal Education should

38 Philip G. Schrag & Michael Meltsner, “Reflections on Clinical Legal Education” 5 (1998).
be viewed as a method of teaching and understanding law effectively rather than a component
to offer mere skills. The complexities of modern life require lawyers to play multiple roles
such as advisors, negotiators, arbitrators, mediators, and administrators. The present day legal
profession calls for much more skills than what was required of a legal practitioner a decade
or so back. The field of lawyering is becoming highly competitive in that sense. Clinical
Legal Education justifies the existence of law school in community’s context. The faculty
will be benefited by the real life situations. This enriched experience in dealing with practical
problems of the members of the society strengthens their theoretical knowledge of law. This
in turn garners the benefits of teaching law in social context to the students. Therefore, the
ideology and pedagogy used in teaching in V.M. Salgaocar College is to make the legal
education socially relevant.

Clinical legal education emerged out of recognition that while a traditional academic
curriculum could teach legal principles, it took practical experience to know how to apply
those principles correctly and with confidence. The legal clinic concept was first discussed at
the turn of the twentieth century by two professors as a variant of the medical clinic model.
Russian professor Alexander I. Lyublinsky in 1901, quoting an article in a German journal,
and American professor William Rowe, in a 1917 article, each wrote about the concept of a
“legal clinic.” Both professors associated it with the medical profession’s tradition of
requiring medical students to train in functioning clinics ministering to real patients under the
supervision of experienced physicians.

This call for a clinical component to legal education was not an attempt to replicate the
apprenticeship system that already existed in many countries, in which students worked
outside the law school under the supervision of an experienced practitioner. Instead, it was a
call for a new type of education that would offer students the opportunity to experience the
realities of legal practice and the context in which laws develop, within the structured
laboratory of legal education.

Although some legal clinics were operating in the United States in the early to mid-twentieth
century, the clinical legal education concept did not take hold in U.S. law schools on a large
scale until the 1960s. Law schools in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe seriously began
to consider clinical legal education in the 1990s. One reason for the development of clinical
legal education in the 1960s was the general societal focus at that time on civil rights and an
antipoverty agenda. Law students were demanding a “relevant” legal education, one that
would give them the opportunity to learn how to address the unmet legal needs of poor
people in the communities in which they were studying law. The Ford Foundation saw the
value of clinical legal education and funded clinics in their initial phases through the Council
on Legal Education for Professional Responsibility (CLEPR). CLEPR grants enabled legal
clinics to flourish, and once law faculties, students, and administrators saw the virtues of
clinical legal education, law schools began to fund them from their general budgets.

Over the past three decades, law clinics in U.S. law schools have evolved from an elective
component within a handful of curricula into an integral part of legal education. Most U.S.
law schools have clinics, clinical law professors generally have some kind of long-term status
within the law school, and students earn academic credit for their participation.

Parallel to these developments, clinical law school programs have developed in South Africa,
the United Kingdom, and other Commonwealth countries. Countries in Latin America, Asia,
and Africa have also developed clinical programs designed to meet their societies’ dual needs
for improved legal representation of those who cannot afford to pay for legal services and for
more practically oriented legal education. For example, in South Africa in 1983, there were
only two university legal aid clinics; by 1992, sixteen of the twenty-one law schools had legal
aid clinics. Meanwhile, in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, the clinical movement has
spread from several experimental programs in the mid-1990s to more than sixty law schools
in 2001.

Clinical legal education is so well entrenched in some countries that there are associations of
clinical teachers which meet on a regular basis to discuss many of the issues this chapter
raises. In the United States there is the clinical section of the Association of American Law
Schools (AALS), the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA), and the Society of
American Law Teachers (SALT). In the United Kingdom there is the Clinical Legal
Education Organization (CLEO), and in South Africa the Association of University Legal Aid
Institutions. In addition, the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) was started in
1996 to promote socially relevant legal education by forming an internationally active
network for the exchange of information and ideas on justice education. The inaugural GAJE
international conference was held in India in December 1999, with the second conference
scheduled for December 2001 in South Africa.

During British rule, legal education in India followed the general colonial model of
producing clerks, not managers or advocates. Its primary goal was to support the existing
financial interests of England, certainly not to reform the local legal profession.39 After
independence, legal education was expected to bring the legal system in tune with the social,
economic, and political desires of the country.40 With 500 law schools and 40,000 law
students graduating every year,41 law schools could play a pivotal role in promoting and
providing justice, particularly through the field of legal aid?

As noted earlier, the contemporary legal aid movement began in independent India in the
early 1960s, at about the same time as legal services programs expanded considerably in the
United States. Unlike in the United States, however, the focus of the legal aid movement in
India has not been on individual client representation but rather on providing legal aid to
indigent people at large.42 Thus, in conjunction with the 42nd Amendment to Indian
Constitution – giving free legal aid constitutional status under Article 39A – Parliament
passed the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987, which aims at both providing free legal aid
and organizing lokadalats(people’s courts) to secure quick justice at low cost. More recently,
the Central Government proposed establishing Gram Nyayalayas (informal courts) to provide

39 Interim report of Auxiliary Committee of the Indian Statutory Commission on Review of the growth of
education in British India, 11 (Government of India, Calcutta 1930).

40A. S. Anand, H.L. Sarin Memorial Lecture: Legal Education in India – Past, Present and Future, (1998) 3
SCC (JOUR) 1, 2.
41N. L. Mitra, Legal Education in India, Conference of International Legal Educators, Florence, Italy (2000)
available at visited on Aug. 20, 2006). Currently
there are 193 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association.
approvedlawschools/approved. html (last visited Sept. 16, 2006). Just over 40,000 students graduated
from ABA accredited law schools in 2004. See (last visited Sept.
16, 2006).
42Bloch & Ishar. This has begun to change in India; for example, the Delhi Legal Services Authority is now
running twenty-eight legal aid centers and a 24-hour hotline at permanent legal services clinics to provide legal
aid to individual clients. See (last visited Aug. 23, 2006).
justice in rural areas at a grass root level.43 Early on, a consensus developed within the Indian
legal community that law schools should play an active role in the legal aid movement.
Although some schools were receptive, early responses to this call were less than satisfactory.
There is now a renewed effort to reform legal education that offers the legal academy, the
bench, and the bar the opportunity to realize the shared goals of meeting service needs and
education reform through social justice-based clinical legal education.

Early efforts to link Legal Aid and Legal Education Reform

The first major report on legal aid came in 1973 from the Expert Committee on Legal Aid of
the Ministry of Law and Justice, chaired by Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer.44 The Expert
Committee was appointed in the Silver Jubilee year of Independence to make
recommendations for the creation and implementation of a comprehensive program of legal
aid to the weaker sections of Indian society, including persons of limited means and socially
and educationally backward classes. In stressing the need for a statutory basis for legal aid,
the Committee said that “legal aid is an integral part of the legal system – not a matter of
charity or confined to the four walls of the court building.” The Committee’s report
advocated creating networks of legal aid groups in various places such as court houses, bar
associations, law schools, community organizations, private and public agencies, and organs
of local government. Recommendations ranged from establishing an autonomous national
legal aid authority, to compulsory public service as a part of law school curricula, to giving
priority to candidates’ social sympathies in filling judicial and police posts. The Committee’s
report also stressed the need to modify the law school curriculum in order to focus on the

43See The Gram Nyaalayas Bill, 2005. Nyaayalays are panchayat-level (county level) courts that serve low-
population jurisdictions. They are, in effect, the lowest court of the State judiciary and operate as traditional
courts but at the grass-roots level. Lok Adalats, on the other hand, are designed to help settle disputes between
the parties that may be pending before any court, as well as matters at the pre-litigation stage. Lokadalats are
discussed also infra at text accompanying notes 135-38.
44See EXPERT COMMITTEE REPORT, supra note 14. Justice Krishna Iyer, known as a pioneer in protecting
prisoners’ constitutional rights, held various legislative and ministerial posts, was a judge of the High Court of
Kerala, and served on the Law Commission of India before being elevated to the Supreme Court of India in
needs of citizens and to provide actual legal aid services. The Committee recommended
introducing clinical legal education in law schools with a focus on socio-economic poverty. It
opined that student exposure to real legal problems would benefit the students, the legal aid
scheme, and the legal system as a whole. It also observed that students’ encounters with the
problems of poverty and exploitation would change their outlook when they become lawyers,
and as a result they would not treat clients simply as facts but as living neighbors.

On the benefits of involving law schools in legal aid programs, the Committee pointed out
those law students would become an inexpensive and enthusiastic resource for providing
meaningful legal aid to India’s vast population. It recommended using law students to
provide legal aid in two stages: first, in preparing a case at the preliminary stages, including
interviewing clients and drafting documents; then, by appearing in court in petty cases,
including examining witnesses and presenting arguments.45 Thus, the central idea of
involving the law schools was not only to provide practical skills but also to secure adequate
legal aid for the needy.

In 1977, the Committee on National Judicature submitted its report.46 The Judicature
Committee was intended to revise, update, revaluate, and supplement the report of Expert
Committee, and its report concentrated more on the liability and working conditions of legal
aid programs.47 The JuridicareCommittee recognized the value of lawyers’ services in
seeking remedies or asserting rights, and placed comprehensive legal aid projects as a high
priority in the State’s responsibility.

The main thrust of the report was the recognition that a legal services program that reflected
western attitudes and ideals cannot work successfully in India because only a few of the
problems of the poor are true legal problems. The Committee believed that a legal aid
program should aim at radical transformation of the socio-economic structure, and concluded
that the legal profession must recognize law as a potential instrument to eradicate poverty by

45At the time, and still today, there was no student practice rule in India.
47Members of the Committee met with members of government, Bar associations, the Judiciary, and actual
beneficiaries of legal aid schemes, and examined various experimentsin legal aid at the village and municipal
levels in order to devise a comprehensive free legal service program.
securing equal distribution of material resources of the country. 48 The Judicature Committee
expected law schools to play a pivotal role in providing legal aid and urged them to establish
legal aid clinics. It observed that student participation in legal aid would not only be helpful
in acquiring the skills necessary in the legal market place, but would also provide an
opportunity for the students to develop a humanistic perspective and a social orientation.
Students would realize the social role of the law, and their participation in clinical projects
would reduce the burden of legal services institutions. For the first time, this report expressed
the need to develop clinical law teachers, to introduce subjects such as law and poverty and
law and society, and to give academic support to law school clinics. In 1981, the government
of India appointed the Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes. The Committee was
headed by Justice P.N. Bhagwati, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Like the
earlier Judicature Committee, the Committee for Implementing Legal Aid Schemes insisted
that court- or litigation-oriented legal aid programs cannot provide social justice in India. The
Committee concentrated more on the promotion of legal literacy, the organization of legal aid
camps to carry legal services to the doorsteps of people, training of paralegals to support
legal aid programs, establishing legal aid clinics in law schools and universities, and bringing
class actions by way of public interest litigation.49 Further, Justice Bhagwati acknowledged
the significance of the educational process in its task: “Education efforts must become a
significant factor contributing to the social development of the poor.”50

48Judicature Committee Report..

49 Report of Committe for implementing Legal Aid Schemes (1981).

50From the Chairman, Legal Aid Newsletter 2 (Feb. 1983) cited in JagatNarain, Legal Aid – Litigational or
Educational: An Indian Experiment, 28 J.I.L.I. 72, 76 (1986).
Teaching in UK law schools has, so long as this has been found in the domain of universities
and colleges, largely been delivered through lectures, and tutorials followed by various forms
of summative assessment. As far as can be deducted the lecture is supposed to impart
knowledge, the tutorial to allow for discussion and questioning and the coursework or
examination to test understanding.
With few exception, learning though direct experience of the practice of law has played
virtually no role in legal education in the UK in living memory, save for what happens during
the discrete apprenticeship stage served after time spent in law school. This position is in
principle little different in other jurisdictions in both the civil and common law worlds. This
contrasts profoundly with legal education prior to the law school involvement when teaching,
such as we would recognise it, was entirely practice based.
Learning by structured experience and reflection on the experience permeates learning in
may professions any trades-except it seems ion law there are of course notable exceptions.
Much has been written on the history of clinical education in the USA, UK and elsewhere.
Relatively recent research suggest that interest in law schools in the UK in clinical legal
education has grown over the past 5 years. Whilst a hard core of universities and colleges in
the higher education sector have been running clinics, more now are either doing so or intend
to do so.
Two case studies may assist here to demonstrate the nature, extent and potential of clinical
legal education.
Pro bono – work carried out by lawyers without charge, or at a subsidized cost, for those
unable or otherwise unlikely to be able to access legal services.
Clinical legal education – a method of teaching and learning through which student assume
responsibility, under supervision, for real or simulated legal casework, coupled with the
opportunity for the students to reflect on that experience in discussion with co- students and
teaching staff.
Clinics – bodies providing a legal service, located within the law school or in the form of
organizations outside of the law school where clinical legal education is practiced. Clinics are
more often than not pro bono in nature.
The cost of Clinics
There are considerable differences between university clinic programmes in terms of size,
scope and resource needs. Some operate on a shoestring with staff time offered on a
voluntary basis and other costs either absorbed by the law school, shared with other partners
or paid for by participants themselves. Where resources are needed these may be in cash or
kind. Funding may come from specific grants from Legal Service Commission contracts,
from the lottery funds, from commercial sponsors or through charitable foundations.
1. Integration of Social Values through Curriculum

Lack of social relevance and humanistic approach in the curriculum alienates social values,
ethics, gender perspectives, views of minority etc. Therefore, by way of adding courses to the
curriculum it address the issues of gender, cultural migration, minority and indigenous.
Peoples or allowing students to work with people of other cultures, we can equip law students
to revisit their responsibilities to the marginalized section of the society. The law curriculum
should be introduced in integration with other disciplines. It is time to appreciate that the
subject matter of economics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, literature and psychology
are essential to the education of the future law graduates. As the minimum, the budding
lawyers must be taught in the economics of law, lawsuits and
2. Professional Practice and Skills Development

Members of the legal profession need to play the role of educator, and counselor. Therefore,
lawyers must be trained in skills that provide for a broader understanding of various facets of

51 Prof. Jay Erstling Reform of Legal System (1993).

legal problems. Fundamental lawyering skills are important to provide social justice;
however, any set of skills confined only to traditional methods of problem solving would be
manifestly insufficient. Students would be required to undergo the entire process of
lawyering either by exposure to actual cases or in dramatic simulations. In both instances,
they are -to act as lawyers and learn the details of lawyering from the experience of being a
lawyer, real or simulating. While the students work under the supervision of a practicing
lawyer or a clinical teacher, they are expected to face situations, analyze facts and take
decisions independently. In interacting with the clients and confronting facts of diverse nature
and presenting them in the court, the student lawyers get the real touch of the picture of the
society. They understand law in the context of the problems of the society and can form
opinion about the quality of a particular law. This awakens the students to the issues of social
justice and installs in them a sense of professional responsibility. But how successfully they
will master the skills of lawyering and how much they will be sensitized to social problems
will depend much on the quality of supervision by the clinical teacher.
3. Externship

In externships, students either participate as lawyers in the representation of real clients under
the supervision of practicing lawyers or they observe or assist practicing lawyers or judges at
These forms of experiencing aim:
• To broaden, extend, and deepen students' understanding of concepts and principles.
• To help students integrate theory and practice.
• To increase students motivation.
• To help students develop the knowledge, skills, and values they need as professionals.
4. Legal Service

The primary obligation to provide legal services to the poor resides with the government, and
to a lesser extent, with the legal profession and not with law schools. Nevertheless, law
schools do have some obligation to contribute in solving the crisis of access to justice, and it
seems obvious that the obligation is best accomplished by law school clinics assisting low-
income individuals and communities that are underserved or have particular difficulty
obtaining lawyers because of the nature of their legal problems. Unless we design our clinics
to involve students in the delivery of legal services to clients, we teach them too little about
legal services work, underexpose them to the real world of low income clients, miss
opportunities to engage students in seeking fundamental changes through class actions, and
thus fail to meet the law school's obligation to make. a meaningful contribution to addressing
the access to justice problem.
5. The Legal Advice

Legal advice is a corollary of legal education and is the essential commitment legal aid. At
the pre-litigation stage when the legal problem has already arisen, a legally informed person
listens to the problem and gives advice as to how should the problem be dealt with.
6. Professional Ethics: Making Lawyers Work for the People

The whole idea of clinical legal education can go in vain if ethical side of legal profession is
overlooked. The objective of clinical legal education is not merely to help students master the
skills of lawyering and make them technically sound. In representing a client's case in the
court, student lawyer must not resort to any means, which is morally condemnable and must
avoid resorting to false witnesses and distortion of facts. While client's interest must guide his
actions and efforts, ethical and moral values must also be upheld, for in that lies greater good
of the society. In fact, in all the programs that are linked with clinical legal education
emphasis is always on the aspects of justice, protection of rights and progressive
development of the society. While execution of these programs requires moral and ethical
motivation, successful implementation of the programs will still further social and moral
values in the students.
Ethical aspects of legal profession must be included in the law faculty curriculum.
Interdisciplinary approach to curriculum development is necessary to make the students more
concerned about society, to make them understand the requirements of its progressive and
humanistic development. For the legal education to have any practical learning it is important
to guide the students learn the lessons of ethics, morals, law, justice, human rights and society
in their inter relationship, so that they can better identify their tasks in the service of the
people and in progressive development of the society.
CJI inaugurates 2,648 village legal aid clinics
With the motto that “no person in the country should starve from hunger of justice”, the
Supreme Court and National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) Friday opened more than
2,600 village legal aid clinics across the states for the people to avail free legal services at
their doorstep.
Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, along with Justice R M Lodha, who is also executive
chairman of NALSA, and Justice A K Patnaik, chairperson of the SC Legal Services
Committee, inaugurated 2,648 legal aid clinics in the villages on the lines of primary health
These village legal services clinics will dole out legal advices to people with the help of para-
legal volunteers and empanelled lawyers, besides assisting them in getting BPL card, Election
ID, Aadhaar Card, gas connection and other government welfare schemes.
Speaking on the occasion, Justice Sathasivam spoke about the resolve to make legal aid
available to the weakest of the persons in the country and urged the volunteers to play a
vibrant and proactive role in this empowerment scheme.
Justice Lodha said that these centres will help villagers overcome the problems they face due
to ignorance of the law and illiteracy. “Our efforts are to ensure that no citizen starves from
hunger of justice and everyone, who deserves justice, gets the justice,” he said.
Justice Patnaik emphasised on the relevance of making legal assistance available at the
doorstep so that many issues are resolved even before they translate into litigation.52
Free Legal Aid Clinic
The free legal aid clinic for parents of people with mental disabilities conducted with the
support of the Madurai District Legal Services Authority (MDLSA) has turned a success
story with 565 parents benefitting out of it. The exemplary model established in Madurai
district in 2010 was the first-of-its-kind legal service in the state when started. The parents of
mentally challenged people need legal help in several grounds as there are several
complications involved in setting guardians, obtaining disability certificate and free
treatment. Property issue is another major area where parents need so much of guidance from
legal experts. It was started to sensitise not only the families of those with mental disabilities
but also the judicial officers and lawyers about the problems faced by the parents. The free
legal aid clinic at M S Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation, a Madurai-based NGO
has so far given support for 98 guardianship issues, 165 disability certificates, 140 free
treatments, 53 property issues, 59 pension allocation after death of parents, nine divorce cases

52 Express News Service, New Delhi, Posted: January 25, 2014 2:41 am.
and 41 counselling. A panel of lawyers along with paralegal volunteers would meet every
Tuesday and Saturdays between 2 and 5pm and provide legal support.53

It is necessary to emphasize that the purpose and scope of legal education must be to prepare
students for the practice of the profession of law. Therefore, the law and legal education
which together constitute the backbone of society should change according to the changing
needs and interests of the ever changing society. Undoubtedly clinical work will be more
expensive than class room teaching. The time frame of curriculum will be difficult to

53 Free legal aid clinic benefits many, enters fifth year. TNN, Apr 17, 2014, 03.11AM IST. See http://
maintain as stated by the university. There are some things which are good for clinical
experience is enabling students to understand experimentally how the law works in practice.
Hence clinic must be included as a part of curriculum. To promote clinical legal education in
India, it is critical:

• for the Bar Council to amend its rules to allow law professors to practice in the course

of teaching a clinical class and encourage law schools to dedicate faculty to teaching
clinics and offer students credits for participating in clinics;

• for vice-chancellors and other administrators of Indian law schools to devote

resources to hiring faculty and offering clinic classes with low student-teacher ratios;

• for law professors to develop sustainable clinics and work with law school

administration to implement them;

• for non-governmental organizations to collaborate with law schools to further their

work with communities and advance the social justice mission of education;

• for legal services authorities to broaden the scope of legal aid by supporting law

schools to make legal aid and advice easily accessible to communities within the
premises of law schools; and

for grant making or funding agencies to fund law-school-based legal clinics to engage with
communities in strengthening democracy and improving governance for the advancement of
justice and the rule of law.

1. N.R. Madhav Menon, Clinical Legal Education, Eastern Book Company (2008).
2. David A. Chavkin, Professor of Law & Director, Civil Practice Clinic, American
University Washington College of Law, Clinical Legal Education: A Textbook for Law
School Clinical Programs (2002).
3. Dr. J.N. Pandey, The Constitutional Law of India, 47th Edition, Central Law Agency
4. Frank S. Bloch, The Global Clinical Movement Educating Lawyers for Social Justice
5. <> l a s t
assessed on October 05, 2012.
6. <> last assessed on October 05, 2012.