LUMS has had a strong interest in the setting up of a Law and Policy Programme to boost and complement its overall educational initiative. The unique position and strengths of LUMS in turn make it an ideal place to launch and house such a programme.
Over the years, LUMS has grown to be a name to be reckoned with, not just in Pakistan but also in the academic world of the region. The University employs the latest and most sophisticated tools, materials and methodologies of teaching in its academic programmes, enjoys an impeccable reputation for its meritocracy and culture of open debate and intellectual dialogue and can boast of a faculty of international standards. Its alumni are blazing new trails all over the globe and are respected and sought after in the market. For these and several other reasons, LUMS is best suited to initiate and house a programme of academic excellence in law and policy studies, which employs the latest in the teaching of these disciplines, offered by the leading law schools of the world. In other words, any such new school of law would uniquely benefit from being housed at LUMS.
LUMS has a professed and historically well-demonstrated commitment to offering academic excellence in areas such as social sciences, business studies, economics, finance and computer sciences amongst others. The idea of housing a law and policy programme at LUMS is not new and it was very much within the original vision plan for the University. LUMS has thus always recognised the importance of taking the lead in the provision of high quality legal education not only to fulfill its own goals but also because such a programme would enhance and significantly contribute to what LUMS is already offering through its other schools and programmes. The strategic plan for the setting up of a law and policy programme at LUMS is the result of over three years of intensive internal debate and discussion amongst the LUMS faculty and its vision providers, an exhaustive evaluation of the existing standards of legal education in the country and the reforms introduced for its improvement as well as engaged consultation, inter alia, with the concerned Pakistani legal education regulatory institutions, legal and policy studies academics, judges of the superior courts, leading legal practitioners, social reformers and activists, representatives of industry, commerce and regulatory bodies as well as international law schools and legal academia.
The initiation and housing of such a law and policy programme at LUMS is a vital step towards the creation of a centre of excellence where academics working in the increasingly inter-related areas of economics, finance, politics and law can collectively take on the challenges being posed by the transformation of the Pakistani economic and legal system. As to three of the above-mentioned disciplines, LUMS already can lay claim to possessing some of the leading academics and experts in the country who are increasingly becoming aware of the void, which exists as to the fourth discipline, namely law. Apart from the benefits of a high quality law and policy programme, which have been enumerated below, housing such a programme at LUMS provides this collective intellectual effort, the dynamic and forward thinking men of ideas belonging to the legal profession, whose vital input is crucial for any meaningful policy-making and reform. The areas of regulation, trade and governance have assumed enormous significance and LUMS has been involved in some of the most important, recent advisory and policy work in this area. With the establishment of the law and policy programme, this endeavour has received a tremendous boost, not just for LUMS but also for wider society.
As already discussed, the contemporary approach to legal education is an interdisciplinary one. The distinctive features of such a law and policy programme are as follows:
• The 5-Year Law Degree: The law and policy programme offers to students who hold at least an FA/A-Level degree, a five-year joint degree Programme (the 'BA-LL.B'). The idea is to familiarise students during their first two years of the BA-LL.B with a variety of vital background subjects such as economics, political science, sociology, philosophy etc., already being offered at LUMS, which also form an essential foundation for the study of law. At the same time, the language and computer courses, which LUMS is offering at the undergraduate level, helps these students develop vital language and computer skills. A student who has taken basic courses in political theory and the economic and political history of Pakistan will obviously be able to gain a lot more from the more advanced courses in constitutional law being offered at a later stage. After completion of two years of the above-described liberal arts education and skills development during which a student takes some introductory courses to law, he/she then embarks on three years of sustained legal education while eventually having the option of choosing a specialised career stream, described below. LUMS is currently the only university in Pakistan, which is offering such a unique five year degree, as it has a thriving undergraduate programme with highly qualified social sciences, computer studies, mathematics, finance and accounting and economics faculty as well as a highly successful business school and fast growing graduate level economics and computer studies programmes. All these schools and departments at LUMS offer enviable faculty resources and tremendous possibilities of interdisciplinary teaching and research for the law and policy programme. Thus the primary synergies required for the unique joint degree Programme already exist at LUMS.
• Provision of Specialised Streams in areas such as: Law, Policy and Development; Law, Business and Economics; Law and Society; and Law and Technology.
After its initial growth stage, the law and policy programme shall be in a position to offer to its students specialised streams of learning at the advanced stages of the LL.B component of their joint degree. This will ensure that apart from a solid all round academic training at the BA component level and a rigorous training in multidisciplinary subjects at the LL.B level, students will also be able to choose a specialised stream which shall equip them even better for a career in that area. Such specialisation does not currently exist under the prevalent legal education system in Pakistan.
• The benefits of a Joint Degree Programme: As described above, students will be awarded a joint degree at the end of the five-year programme i.e. the BA-LL.B. This means that apart from their thorough grounding in law and policy studies, they will have a very good grounding in subjects like economics, finance, political science etc. This will not only enhance their skills and potential as a mainstream lawyer but also make them highly desirable for many employment sectors, which require such a diverse training and set of skills. Graduates of the law and policy programme, with their academic depth as well as broad variety of knowledge and skill sets, can thus not only opt for a conventional legal career but also have the option of joining and contributing towards a better functioning of state regulatory bodies, NGOs, private enterprises, civil bureaucracy, financial institutions, the academia etc.
• Building of a Legal Academia: Unlike existing law programmes in Pakistan, the law and policy programme at LUMS is built on essential idea of not just creating a legal training institute but a centre of academic excellence. Apart from an essential core faculty of academics who engage in research, the programme also attracts the best available professionals with an academic bend who are willing to invest the time and effort towards visualising and structuring a course/course materials and teaching it with tremendous commitment and originality, while adhering to the above stated principles and approach. Constant faculty evaluation at the faculty and student levels maintains and further improves teaching standards.
• Research Dimension and Knowledge Generation: Continuous and on-going research is a fundamental value and corner stone of the Law and Policy Programme initiative. Apart from other impacts, such research directly translates into better teaching. Law is an organic subject and unlike the study of Latin or Greek, there are very frequent changes of text, approach and issues. The introduction of the research dimension is, therefore, a vital contribution by the Law and Policy Programme to the broader society.
• The Dynamic Inter-disciplinary Syllabus: The provision of such a syllabus is the hallmark of the law and policy programme and the contents of our syllabus are constantly evaluated and improved according to changes in society. While fulfilling the requirements of the Pakistan Bar Council, the fundamental focus and emphasis is on the provision of a progressive and intellectually demanding syllabus in the following four basic ways:
• By offering cutting-edge subjects such as international environmental law, e-commerce law, WTO, law of regulatory agencies, laws of NGOs and social enterprises, etc.
• By teaching the offered courses, not just within a legal paradigm and an emphasis on the statutory provisions but keeping in view the social, political, economic and commercial dimensions as well. The course materials and teaching techniques are formulated accordingly.
• By exploring the various dimensions/aspects within significant conventional subject areas. For example a study of Pakistani constitutional law can be divided into, inter alia, four different specialised subjects, namely- History of the Pakistani Constitution, Constitutional Law and Fundamental Rights, Constitutional Law and Political Theory and A Comparative Study of the Indian and Pakistani Constitutional Law.
• Through offering several significant, interdisciplinary subjects such as the Economic and Legal aspects of Corporate Governance, Legal and Financial aspects of Banking, Law and Economics. LUMS has tremendous faculty resources to offer such cutting-edge courses, and is already offering some of these with great impact, and cross listing by students from the business and other schools will further make these classes even more informative and effective.
• State-of-the-art Teaching Methodology: LUMS is already a pioneer in the area of the Case Method of teaching and the Socratic Questioning approach in Pakistan. The Case Method of teaching requires the creation of challenging cases which present students with problems and issues set in real life situations. This gives the entire intellectual exercise a context and direction, which is missing from prevalent teaching methodologies. The use of the above techniques has been a resounding success at the LUMS Business School and the market has recognised the analytical edge which it provides LUMS students with; the Law and Policy Programme also benefits from this existing culture of teaching at LUMS.
• New Teaching Materials: Since the raison d'etre of the Law and Policy Programme is the introduction and promotion of a high quality interdisciplinary approach to law and policy studies, the process is expected to make a seminal contribution to the creation of quality reading materials for these courses with a high amount of commitment and research expected from all faculty members towards preparing such case books, treatises and course materials for their courses. These will not only ensure the desirable teaching of these courses but will also be an invaluable contribution to legal teaching in general in Pakistan, given the dearth of such case books/treatise/course materials in the country. The fact that such a tradition for case writing and research is already well established at the existing schools and departments at LUMS would enhance its inculcation in the Law and Policy Programme.
• Latest Teaching Techniques: The Socratic Method of teaching and the use of cases, where appropriate, are supplemented by widely used teaching tools such as class presentations, seminars, visiting lecturers, law moots, simulated negotiations, active class participation and role playing, field studies to provide a direct experience of the subject matter of study, grading against the bell curve etc., which ensure that classes have more of an impact and that the emphasis of teaching remains on promoting curiosity, analytical and communication skills and a deeper grasp of the subject. The examination system is also geared towards gauging progress in these areas and not mere accumulation of meaningless information.
• Better Training and Marketability: The law and policy programme ensures that the graduating lawyers have a diverse skill set and are extremely well trained in not just the law but many related disciplines as well as in the important overarching areas of communication and leadership skills. This translates into tremendous marketability for such graduates. Also, very important is the esteem and connections which LUMS already enjoys in the market, which would further contribute towards the successful placement of such graduates at highly challenging and diverse positions.
• Academic and Career Support to Students: LUMS is already well cognizant of the importance of providing effective academic and career counselling support to its students in order for them to fully realise their potential, and such an approach is diligently followed in the law and policy programme.
• Financial Assistance and Student Diversity: Through its National Outreach Programme, LUMS has already shown its unflinching commitment to providing access of its portals to talented but underprivileged students in society. Such an initiative is meant to make an important contribution towards removing existing social and economic inequities in terms of opportunities of pursuing higher learning as well as to attract the brightest and most hardworking students to LUMS from all vistas of society. The Law & Policy Programme shares the same vision along with the diligence and commitment required to realise it.
• Constant Interface with Developments in Society: The Law & Policy Programme is by no means intended to be an air-tight haven of learning, but one which develops strong links with the society around it, both to imbue its teaching content with practicality and also to be able to make effective practical contribution to society by being an important component of the broader societal dialogue. In this regard regular interface with the leading thinkers and activists in society as well as organisations doing meaningful and inspiring work is maintained through lectures, seminars, colloquia and conferences.
• International Partnerships/Student and Faculty Exchange Programmes: In keeping with the existing tradition of LUMS to have highly valuable relationships with internationally reputed institutions of higher learning, the law and policy programme endeavours to develop such relationships in order to give its Programme an international exposure and edge and to develop the requisite rigour to meet the demands of the new and increasingly technology and knowledge based economies.
In conclusion, the Law and Policy programme is committed to bringing about the establishment of not just a single institution but a wider culture of professional excellence, social relevance and constant innovation in the areas of legal and policy studies in Pakistan. Therefore, the creation of a socially relevant, professionally sound and innovative law and policy Programme in a country like Pakistan does not have the limited impact of certain law students becoming better equipped lawyers. It is expected to create innumerable ripples across the face of the entire social, political and economic milieu. Not just through training better lawyers, but through, among other things, high quality research, rights awareness programmes, informed input into the enactment of laws and formulation of policies and special training Programmes for lawyers, judges, businessmen and policy makers, the law and policy programme can become an important enabler of social change. It can thus be a significant contributor to the intellectual evolution and ideological growth of a society. Through a period of our history, where the strengthening and preservation of institutions is vital, such a law and policy programme can prove to be an important player in the struggle for a renaissance in this direction.