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Hands-on lesson for law students

Cuttack, March 15: National Law University, Odisha, has decided to integrate practical experience with mainstream legal education so that the law students get a feel of the ground reality.

The varsity has also added 10 research centres as part of its Legal Services Clinic project to help the students to extend legal services to the socially and economically backward sections of the society.

The new research centres were inaugurated here today.

“Our plan is to set up legal services clinics in all the districts. Four districts (Cuttack, Puri, Khurda and Kendrapara) have been selected for the first phase. Two panel advocates will be appointed for each of them while teachers and students will assist the lawyers to take up cases on behalf of the clients,” said vice-chancellor of the university V. Nagaraj.

The research centres inaugurated today include those for criminal justice, tribal welfare, women and law, consumer law, agriculture and related laws, differently-abled, labour laws, industrial relations, and mediation and negotiation centre.

Each centre will have one or more faculty members and a team of students selected on the basis on aptitude. The panel advocates will guide the faculty members and students on various aspects about providing the necessary services.

University officials said the main objective was to impart various practical skills including the art of interviewing clients, conducting cases, drafting and cross examination, which will be of great assistance to the students.

Nagaraj said the legal services and research centres would be established in different parts of the state to create legal literacy by organising a number of programmes including street plays.

The varsity has made it compulsory for fourth and fifth year students to be part of the legal services clinic while it will be optional for the first and third year students.

Lawyers with eight to 10 years of experience would be appointed as the panel advocates, while the students will assist them in taking up cases for the marginalised sections in court.

The main objective is to provide the students with a real idea of the happenings and the problems of various sections including women and children in the society.

Besides, there are also plans to co-ordinate with the State Legal Services Authority so that the support services of the university and panel lawyers of the State Legal Services Authority can be effectively used for the cause of the weaker sections.