The vision of National Law University Odisha is to develop as a Centre of Excellence in Legal Education and emerge not only as a place of professional learning but also to nurture the idea of public service and to carry forward the perambulatory promises of the Indian Constitution. Our motto is excellence, equity, integrity and social justice. The faculties play an important role of mentor and facilitator in the rigorous student-centric academic delivery. It is our constant endeavour to make learning a provocative engagement and a joyful exercise through innovative and creative methods of teaching. NLUO is one of the few National Law Universities that offer an integrated B.B.A. LL.B. (H) programme.
To achieve the aforesaid motto, the University has adopted clinical learning as its priority teaching –learning method. Theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom is combined with internship training, field visits, project work, clinical observations and empirical research. Thus, clinical legal education as a progressive educational ideology and pedagogy is implemented through various university programmes. University is committed to producing competent legal and socially relevant professionals. To promote experiential learning, the following measures are taken:
1. Offering Clinical Legal Education (CLE) courses at undergraduate level: To promote experiential learning, the students are offered clinical legal programmes as a part of ‘Legal Aid and Public Interest Litigation (PIL)’ course with focus on prison advocacy, child rights, labour rights and juvenile justice etc. As a part of the course, students are expected to undertake field visits, conduct empirical research, identify key legal issues under the ambit of their clinics and propose solutions for the same. In addition to this, students have the freedom to do a range of activities like preparing documentaries, staging street plays ornukkadnataks, distribution of pamphlets, posters etc. as a part of their field visits. As a part of the course, students undertake field visits to prisons, police stations, brick kilns, juvenile detention centres etc.
2. Establishment of Legal Aid Clinics: University is running a Legal Aid Clinic at Dompada, Cuttack in addition to the primary legal aid clinic at the NLUO Campus. A full time staff member with law degree has been appointed on contractual basis to manage the Legal Aid Clinic in the University. He works in tandem with the District Legal Services Authority, Cuttack for providing legal and other assistance throughout the process. The Clinics also provide for amicable settlement of disputes by providing pre-litigation services. The faculty members of the University who are taking clinical courses help in efficient functioning of the clinics.
Through these clinics, we aim not only to train our students but also to strengthen access to justice for the marginalized section of society through legal awareness, promoting alternative methods of dispute resolution and demonstrating innovations and best practices for clinical legal education. The assistance provided by students through these Clinics involve drafting of applications and related documents, referral services, follow-up of the cases with appropriate authorities, counselling etc. This process helps in creating a link between NLUO Legal Aid Society and the communities. The Society members and student volunteers regularly conduct Legal Literacy Programmes. Through these literacy programmes, the Clinics also seek to do the following:
- Empower women in self-help groups by making them aware about laws and policies on women and children, social security measures, free legal aid etc.
- Empower elected representatives of local self-governments (Panchayat Raj Institutions) to disseminate the services of Legal Aid Clinics and refer cases for intervention.
- Orient and sensitize school level teachers about child rights and child protection strategies; and encourage them to form clubs that disseminate knowledge on child rights.
The Legal Aid Clinics therefore perform the task of facilitation, coordination, provision of legal counselling and legal assistance.
Best Practices at NLUO
- Title of the practice: Promoting legal aid and outreach activities
Objectives of the Practice: The objective is to make clinical learning as a part of the pedagogy to make the legal knowledge imparted to the students socially relevant and nurture the idea of serviceability to the people.
The Context: It is observed that most people in the society, particularly the marginalised sections of the society are unaware of their legal rights and are unable to deal with grappling issues faced by them in their day to day lives. This leads to the need to address legal, social and other problems. Through the legal aid activities and clinical activities, the University attempts to instil public responsibility in the students.
The Practice: The Legal Aid Society of the University makes remarkable contribution by extending help through legal aid clinic situated at Dompada village (Cuttack), conducting legal awareness drives, donation drives etc. The outreach programmes and activities include community education, community advocacy, distribution of pamphlets etc. The University also offers a compulsory programme on Clinical Legal Education as a part of the course curriculum in which students work on areas ranging from land rights to prison advocacy, prison rights etc. Through this programme students are sensitized about the ground level social and legal issues faced by people in their vicinity. This encourages them to identify meaningful solution to the issues through application of legal knowledge and skills. Additionally, students are also encouraged to undertake pro bono lawyering as a part of their practice.
Evidence of Success: The Legal Aid Clinic has undertaken several initiatives including organising legal aid camps and facilitation of receiving benefit from the social service schemes in collaboration with the District Administration.
Students have undertaken some remarkable initiatives as part of their field visits and clinical programmes. On two instances, students have filed a Public Interest Litigation petitions addressing issues of public importance. Some alumni of the University have started their own NGO named Zenith in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh focussed on conservation of fresh water lakes in their vicinity. Furthermore, the alumni are associated with other national and international NGOs.
Problems Encountered and Resources Required: In terms of outreach, the extent of outreach has been severely affected due to onset of the pandemic. Also, it has been observed that students face certain language and cultural barriers during their visits to local communities. There is a need for training and sensitization of students for better social interaction. Further, greater financial resources are required to expand the scope of clinical activities and activities under the ambit of legal aid.
- Title of the practice: Promoting holistic development of students and strengthening mental health of the students.
Objectives of the Practice: The objective is to improve students’ participation in activities that contribute to their social well-being and emotional well-being.
The Context: In addition to the professional skills, the human values play an important role in holistic development of human being.
Lack of social interaction in real world due to social media platforms coupled with academic pressure to perform better has resulted in isolation of students in real world. This is one of the reasons why mental health of students is at a constant risk which needs to be addressed.
The Practice: Students are encouraged to attend sessions on stress management, confidence building etc. conducted on monthly basis by YourDost Health Solutions Pvt. Ltd. A certified counsellor/psychologist visits the campus twice a month, and staff and students are encouraged to avail counselling services of the experts. Additionally under the NLUO Mentorship programme, faculties (mentors) are advised to engage in discussion with their mentees and ensure their overall well -being. Further, in regular intervals activities like yoga classes, dance classes, Zumba sessions, open mic sessions are organised in the campus that have a therapeutic effect on the distressed minds.
Evidence of Success: Feedback collected from students indicate that they have been satisfied with the University initiatives with regard to mental health and overall well-being of the students.
Problems Encountered and Resources Required: Greater mobilisation is needed to make students seek help at the right time, and engage in counselling.
- Title of the practice: Friends Beyond Species – Society for Advancement of Animal and Environmental Welfare
Objectives of the Practice: To promote and protect the rights of all sentient beings, especially the most neglected ones who cannot fend for themselves. To instill in students compassion towards non-human animals and responsibility towards protecting the environment.
The Context: It was disheartening to notice some students’ hostility towards stray animals in the campus. There was an immediate need to address this issue. It was also observed that steps needed to be taken to prompt residents of the campus to switch over to eco-friendly and sustainable choices in their day to day activities. As students of law they are encouraged to be instruments of change and therefore, they get together to work towards creating a better world for sentient beings along with a sustainable future.
The Practice: To sensitize and raise awareness the Society organizes regular sensitization drives, Nukkad Nataks, poster-making competitions. Further, to foster research in the area of animal and environmental welfare, the Society has hosted Ms. Maneka Gandhi to conduct a National Conference. Additionally, a national-level essay competition, a full-fledged blog is run under the aegis of the Society. At the ground level, the animals on campus (mostly dogs) are all vaccinated, trained to be human-friendly, and fed and bathed regularly. The Society has also made a proposal to the administration for a Green Campus, suggesting various ideas of implementation, such as banning of plastic straws, reuse of reading material and submission of softcopies of projects to save paper, etc.
Evidence of Success: The Society has published an edited volume on the theme of wildlife conservation. It has also seen an overwhelming response for the Conference and competitions organised. Furthermore, the students and staff on campus have developed more tolerance and compassion towards the presence of non-human animals on campus.
Problems Encountered and Resources Required: Due to the pandemic, outreach activities and sensitization drives have been affected. The Society needs greater support from the stakeholders, of financial as well as physical and emotional nature.
- Title of the practice: Annual Book Grant for Faculty Members
Objectives of the Practice: To promote the mission of the University i.e. advancement of course of learning, teaching and research and diffusion of knowledge in the field of law, the University extends financial support to faculties.
The Context: As an academician, teachers constantly require to update their knowledge and hone their research skills in the areas of their specialization and interest. Thus, the faculty is supported to build a personal collection of books on areas of their research and interest.
The Practice: An Annual Grant of Rs.10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand Only) is available to every faculty member, upon approval by the Dean and Registrar. Before the end of the financial year, each faculty, who availed the said grant, has to submit the corresponding bills.
Evidence of Success: Feedback from the faculty suggests that the grant has been helpful in developing a personal collection of books, and has facilitated in constant updating of their knowledge in their academic field. During the pandemic, with no physical access to the library on campus, these personal books facilitated to conduct virtual classes smoothly.
Problems Encountered and Resources Required: No problems encountered.