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From 'T' To Delta – The Journey of the 21st Century Legal Professional
It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” Darwin propounded this concept in the context of survival of the species and we should now ascribe this to institutions. The Institution of law is infamous across the globe for being a sloth in the face of change. Caitlin Moon, a fifth-generation attorney, notes that the system that the institution of law works on today is largely the product of the Second Industrial Revolution when other institutions have been upgraded by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is an American lawyer talking, mind you. In the context of the Indian legal system, COVID-19 has exposed the weakness of the foundation on which the system has been built. Indian courts, already buckling under the backlog of cases, are now going to face a mountain of matters that have been delayed indefinitely due to the pandemic. This has also deeply affected new advocates who are drowned in unemployment with the two waves. There is no doubt that the current system is primordial. How can the Indian Legal fraternity resolve this issue? What can Legal Educational Institutions (LEIs) do to help law aspirants be prepared for the storm ahead?
For any change, we need to look at the root cause and start working from there. The primary reason for the current status of the Indian legal system is that it still promotes the 'I-shaped model' of a legal professional, where all that is required is basic legal knowledge and skills. Legal education propagates this system churning out these 'I shaped' legal professionals. A few evolved legal institutions discuss and try to shape their students into a 'T-shaped' model. This is a relatively advanced system that focuses not only on legal knowledge and skills but educates in other subjects interwoven with the law such as commerce, ethics, technology etc.
To resolve the current, upcoming crisis in the legal system 'Delta Model' is the need of the hour. This builds further upon the T-shaped model to inculcate the targets of the ‘Practice, the Process and the People competencies.’ This concept was propounded by Alyson Carrel and the team. To arrive at the model, they flipped the T Shaped model on its side and added a third component, 'Personal Effectiveness Skills.' We will now undertake an examination of each component of the 'Delta model' and how they should ideally translate to courses that should/can be introduced by the LEIs to assist in nurturing these traits within a law aspirant.
Practice: This is at the bottom of the Delta model, and represents the foundational skills required for legal practise – such as - identifying and framing issues, legal analysis, research and drafting. These are currently being cultivated by most law schools through subjects like Drafting, Pleading, Conveyancing, Case-based study of law, etc.
Process: As the right part of the Delta, it focuses on the development of interdisciplinary skills such as analysis of data, efficient use of technology, project management, business fundamentals etc. To nurture Delta shaped legal professionals, LEIs should be open to subjects like entrepreneurship development, management, data analysis and technology basics. Ideally, these should be taught by management and technology educators and professionals.
People: On the left side of the triangle, it aims at people skills such as emotional intelligence, problem-solving, self-management, communication, entrepreneurial skills etc. LEIs could build a curriculum that includes subjects like a personality enhancement program, which works on developing communication skills, inculcates, self-management with a holistic approach. Other offerings could include design thinking, critical problem solving etc.
Students armed with these basics will be able to scale their skills up depending on the vagaries of the field. Research suggests that the People and the Process aspect of the Delta model would be decisive in elevating the legal community from the Second to Fourth Industrial Revolution. Further, these aspects would ensure the sustainability of lawyers in the profession in the long run as they can now identify the skills they need to work upon to land the job they find meaningful. Delta model can potentially help the legal community realise their dream of grooming lawyers as for social engineers.
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