Human Rights advocacy
Role of legal aid clinic
Our Constitution in its preamble and Fundamental Principles of State Policy speaks about social justice which is the key pillar of the Constitution. But it is regretful that even after 37 years of our sovereignty, a magnitude of people are not conscious about their constitutional and statutory rights. As a result the concepts “equality before law”, “equal protection of law” which we comprehend in our learning period appear futile. However legal institutions can help the situation by involving their pupils in legal aid clinic.
Legal aid is for them who cannot afford expenses but seek justice. It is of great help to the poor, helpless and deprived. Millions of downtrodden people are pushed out of the judicial system not only for its expensiveness and delay but because of the nature of the legal and judicial process.
The young lawyer or student, recently graduated from law school, usually realizes that his legal education has equipped him with facts but not the technique of the profession. A lawyer is a social engineer and this deficiency obstructs him from contributing in the social development.
The educational advantages of legal aid clinic work seem manyfold. The student meets real clients and works on real cases. He receives instruction in practice and at the same time is forming some conception of office organization and of how to win the confidence of those whom he serves.
In the ordinary law school training, some of the common factors which are neglected are:
(1)the effective examination of clients and witnesses in interview; ( 2 ) the correct and efficient assembling of material evidence and determination of its probative value; (3) the processes and practice of draftsmanship; (4) the production of office memorandums, trial briefs, appellate briefs, pleadings, and legal instruments; (5) advocacy, including trial methods and technique, and the development of a realistic approach presented by the attitude of judges.
To make the most of the opportunities presented by clinical work, the student must have adequate instruction and supervision. With it, he derives untold benefit; without it, there is no essential advantage of clinic work over actual practice, except in the immediate availability of clients. On the other hand, the clients must not become legal guinea pigs. They must derive a substantial benefit from the work that is being done, and should be protected from the mistakes of students.
In legal clinic work the law student has experiences which cut across class lines. He has a chance to see the economic as well as the legal problems of many people. He deals with the educated and the uneducated; with those who are handicapped in society by race or color, and with those whose indigency is accompanied or caused by lack of ability or education, or by human frailty.
The writer is Research Assistant, CCB Foundation.