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Defining Future of Legal Education
Second National Conference
on CPD in Law 2014
QUALITY ASSURANCE MECHANISM: ROLE OF THE BAR COUNCILS
By: Mr. Ahmed Uzair
“CLE aims to raise the standard of professionalism of lawyers by
updating their knowledge and improving skills. This is only
possible with appropriate regulatory framework.”
1. INTRODUCTION
It is a sad irony that despite “vocational” nature of legal education given to students – both local
LLB as well as international programs (University of London International Program), they are
not properly equipped them to practice law in Pakistan. When a young attorney obtains the
license to practice law, he/she lacks fundamental legal knowledge and understanding of basic
legal principles. There is very limited research and critical thinking. Finally there is no “clinical”
education imparted to students such as basics of advocacy, legal drafting, research and
negotiations.
The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that the expectations of the clients are changing.
They are demanding more sophisticated legal products and more definitive legal solutions.
Complicated assignments are outsourced to foreign “expert” law firms because there is
insufficient knowledge or expertise in Pakistan.1
During this Conference many speakers will talk about the development of Continuing Legal
Educations (or CLE) in Pakistan. I will focus on how Bar Councils can make it a reality.
2. CLE AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION
Advocates play a vital role in the justice system. Courts expect that our knowledge of the law
will be up-to-date. Clients rely on our advice and services because it affects their rights, liberty
and financial position.
In Pakistan there is a general perception that in the past sixty years, we have seen a decline of
legal professional standards including legal education. The result of this process is clear: legal
education is not producing lawyers Pakistan needs to meet the challenges it faces. 2 While efforts
are being made to improve the standard of graduates entering the profession through the
1
In a recent example, a government owned company required legal work in Renewable Energy. It mandated – in its
advertisement – that any perspective law firm must partner with an International Law firm with relevant experience.
2
Asian Development Bank, Pakistan Legal and Judicial Rerform Project (Ta 3015), Final Report 55-58 (1999)
1
Defining Future of Legal Education
Second National Conference
on CPD in Law 2014
introduction of LAW-GAT, CLE can raise the overall standard of the Practitioners by imparting
professional training. The Bar Councils however must ensure that the training provided by CLE
Providers meets minimum standards.
If we look at CLE from the perspective of the Client, the view that the market sorts out the best
performers is not necessarily relevant. While it is clear that the market is generally adept at
identifying the best attorneys, it does not necessarily weed out the ones who underperform. There
has been very limited research in this area, but anecdotal evidence – see for example the DPRC
Working Paper by Osama Siddique – makes it clear that there are attorneys in some areas of the
profession who are not providing the service that their clients need. 3DPRC Working Paper
highlights that more than one in every four people surveyed said that they were unsatisfied (or
deeply unsatisfied) by the performance of their attorneys. Startling as this number is, the most
striking aspect of the Paper– for the purposes of our analysis – is the limited degree of influence
clients have over the performance of their attorneys.4Market forces are clearly not a complete
answer.
There are many factors that may result in a generally unsatisfied client. However one way
lawyers can better equip themselves is through CLE. The Pakistan Bar Council (hereinafter
referred to as the PBC) and by extension the provincial Bar Councils can work with CLE
Providers.5
Following are the ways in which the Pakistan Bar Council in co-operation with the Legal
Education Providers to improve the standard of the Bar.
3. ROLE OF THE EDUCATION PROVIDERS
Reportedly Pakistan has 74 law colleges affiliated with 16 universities.6By and large, the public
sector universities are fairly rigid and antiquated in their approach to teaching law, with little
innovation in their curriculum.7
The first step in developing a quality assurance system is to identify the core competencies,
standards and values expected of a lawyer. Currently there is no stand-alone document on the
3
See for example the DPRC WORKING PAPER Law In Practice – The Lahore District Courts Litigants Survey
(2010 – 2011).
4
Ibid. See Page 98.
5
See for example the observations by Osama Siddique in Legal Education in Pakistan: The Domination of
Practitioners and the “Critically Endangered” Academic.
6
Journal of Legal Education, Volume 63, Number 3 (February 2014)
7
Martial Law and Lawyers: The Crisis Of Legal Education In Pakistan And Key Areas of Reform by Osama
Siddique
2
Defining Future of Legal Education
Second National Conference
on CPD in Law 2014
Standards, which is accessible to both the public and the professionals, identify exactly what is
expected of a competent attorney. The PBC has to develop such a document, which will
underpin the rest of its work on quality assurance.
After defining these standards, the PBC and the provincial Bar Councils need to find ways of
ensuring that lawyers meet them. There are repeated calls for holding individual attorney
accountable. While setting up proper accountability is required, I think that another way of
dealing with the “Standards” issue, in the first instance, is through work with the CLE Education
Providers. The aim would be to encourage advocates to seek CLE where they feel they need help
in meeting the Standards and where they need to improve. With the benefit of this education an
attorney should be able to provide a better service and as a consequence gain more work. This is
because he/she should be able to market him/herself as an expert in an area where he/she has
undertaken advance level CLE. Similarly large law firms and corporations do have an interest in
raising the standard of the lawyers on their payroll.
4. YOUNG LAWYERS
Young Lawyers is an area where Quality Assurance Mechanism may be easier to implement. On
many occasions the direction and success of a young lawyer is directly dependent on the
“Senior” available to him or her.8 Many law firms provide outstanding legal training. However
the lack of consistency is unfair on a young lawyer and does not provide a level playing field.
Therefore a mechanism should be devised for assessing whether or not an individual meets the
minimum criteria of, for instance, appearance before the Higher Courts. One way to improve the
standard of young attorneys is to require young attorney to take Professional Training Modules
(PTMs) before they are qualified to appear before the Higher Courts. The Bar Representative
Bodies should in the long run, develop these training modules with the Education providers. This
will not seek to replace the system of award of Degrees and Diplomas by the Universities or the
LAW GAT. It will, however, provide additional resources equipping a young attorney to be
more employable. Many people undertaking LLB don’t end up practicing. Therefore adding the
above mentioned clinical aspects of law practice and specialized training should be left to CLE.
By way of example PBC can introduce a module familiarizing young attorneys with “Legal
Research”. The role of the PBC in such as situation would be to provide guidelines to the
Education Providers on what topics should be covered by the PTM in order to be
accredited/approved. It would need to have significant intellectual and practical content designed
8
As for the vast majority of new law graduates, they essentially join senior lawyers as low-paid apprentices or strike
out on their own and often remain brief-less for years. See Legal Education in Pakistan: The Domination of
Practitioners and the “Critically Endangered” Academic by Osama Siddique.
3
Defining Future of Legal Education
Second National Conference
on CPD in Law 2014
to introduce the attorney on how to undertake legal research. Someone qualified by practical or
academic experience would conduct it and the PTM would take place in a suitable setting, in this
case access to a law library.
The PBC can require the CLE Education Provide to ensure the availability of quality and
carefully prepared materials to all attendees at or before the time the PTM is conducted.
Module can also be graded by the PBC on the level of their target audience. For instance an
“Advanced” PTM would be for lawyers who practices primarily in the subject matter of the
module. An “Intermediate” PTM would be for the lawyer experienced in the subject matter of
the Module, but not necessarily at an advanced level. Take for instance a PTM designed to
introduce Criminal Lawyers to the latest amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code. Finally a
“Basic” PTM would be the type of Module designed for the lawyer with no experience or limited
experience in the subject matter. The above-mentioned Legal Research PTM is a case in point.
5. CONCLUSION
The PBC as a representative of the legal professionals has a duty to maintain the prestige of the
profession. The CLE Initiative provides a new direction where the overall professional standard
of the Bar can be raised. PBC has to play a central role in encouraging CLE’s development in
Pakistan and ensuring its quality in the long run. This can be done by setting up robust regulatory
framework where, appropriate feedback mechanism is in place. In USA many States have
Continuing Legal Education Board that works with the representative bodies and the CLE
providers to ensure quality CLE. These Boards not only undertake quality controls by providing
guidelines to the CLE providers, they also are responsible for accredit individual course.
It is unlikely that the CLE will be made mandatory without significant groundwork. However
PBC must take center stage. It can for instance recognizing CLE, devise courses and set up
appropriate accreditation requirements through a central CLE Board. Experienced lawyers,
reputed to be experts in their fields can be requested to teach CLE Programs while other senior
lawyers can participate as moderators or judge law competitions, mock trials and moot court
arguments. All of this has to come from somewhere and PBC is centrally placed to take on this
role.
4

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