Lawyers are supposed to know the very best in Law and the legal systems. However, with the times changing by the advent of high technology coupled with the other bits and pieces they have brought along, society has started to look up to a number of newer challenges that call for additional trainings for the mindful amongst the budding lawyers, or in other words, the finer students of law. In this brief piece, I intend to introduce the reader to a few of the skill-sets that have recently become essential for a successful career in Law.
There are some skill-sets that are generally perceived to be sufficient for lawyers until this date. These include the ability to analyse and address specifics, logical reasoning, articulateness, the quality to reach a sound judgment and also, an ability to express and/ or write properly. In addition to these, certain characteristics such as legal knowledge, presenting oneself in the courtroom or personal integrity, though not always found aplenty, perhaps do not qualify as “skills” as such. The stakes are no higher when compared to the information one acquires with time or the basic elements of one’s character that s/he develops during his/ her preparatory tutoring at colleges and universities. The legal profession happens to be more concerned with the actual skill; a ready proficiency or applied ability that has been acquired and developed through years of training and experience. One’s degree of disposition, attentiveness and intellect are inherent characteristics; skills on the other hand, are what one acquires through the application of all these. Hence, the inference may stand as: if you adequately possess most of these skills, you should be fully qualified to practice the Law.
The practice of the Law is a pragmatic profession. Law schools and universities have traditionally had some sort of a curriculum that included practical trainings like faculty-guided visits to Courts at every level of hierarchy and observing courtroom proceedings that would assist trainee students to understand and obtain the necessary practical knowledge on how the legal system works. Nowadays, most of them have also come up with „Moot Courts‟ as a compulsory paper/ subject within their respective course curricula. It has been felt that proficiency of individual students could be different; these could be discovered only when they are made to undergo an assessment process that is tailor-made to identify them. These may not apparently always seem as significant or necessary for the legal profession. However, if nurtured further, systematically, these could be propelled into becoming as much relevant in Law as they could have been for something else. After all, certain traits like theatrics, verbal power or extempore skills, for example, should always be helpful for a lawyer while presenting a case beyond the case drafts. In the process, a genuine talent that a trainee student already possesses within himself/ herself, could be made full use of to pursue his/ her career goals.
Looking into the future, thus, the School of Law, The NorthCap University, has introduced a course on General Proficiency for its undergraduate students that may help them acquire the skill-sets required to practice the Law more competently, effectively and competitively. The course is an assessment-cum-training programme for students to prepare them for tomorrow’s market challenges. How conversant is s/he with the English language, his/ her general awareness, how strong his /her legal and logical reasoning is, or how much is s/he at ease during any Group Discussion (GD), etc. are some of the parametric skills upon which the students are individually assessed at the School of Law. His/ her association with any cultural, sports or other outreach activities is also duly noted, to underscore his/her flair for involving himself/herself in any collective action. This essentially identifies the strengths and weaknesses of each student individually, that eventually helps him/ her in acquiring and using these core skills, that have increasingly become a must for future lawyers to make a living in the 21st century. It is a fact, nevertheless, that not every law school or institution teaches them; neither does every governing body or academic council acknowledge their necessity. Although, it stands to be a fact that the leading ones amongst the law firms immediately prefer those few that are experts in them.
Excuses or compromises are never encouraged while building the future of our students as promising, budding lawyers. Therefore, it is no wonder that we, at the School of Law in The NorthCap University, have introduced General Proficiency as a full-fledged course in our curricula to serve all of these bundled together to meet this entire purpose, holistically.
By Dr. Tapobrata Pakrashi, Assistant Professor,
The NorthCap University