India’s Law School Legal Aid Clinics: The Gaps Between Aspiration and Practice


  • K Rajashree Christ University
  • Sonika Bhardwaj Christ University



The law schools legal aid activities conducted through its clinics has come a long way in India especially since its inception in the early 1970’s. Its evolution has been gradual, intermittent and varied. Although The Bar Council of India (BCI) has mandated, establishing legal aid clinics as a pre-requisite for granting the necessary permissions before law schools start functioning, there are limited ideas of its purpose and objectives. An inherent lack of understanding its importance in terms of teaching, learning and research, the legal aid practices are largely left to the discretion of the individual law schools and interpretations of the individual faculty members. Combined with ideas heavily borrowed from the law schools in the US and individual experiences of the faculty members, legal aid practices in India are diversified. In the backdrop of this, the author intends to explore and map the aspiration of legal aid through an analysis of the key policy documents of legal education since India’s independence through an ontological framework. The ontology maps the aspirations of the legal aid clinics that was intended through these documents. Additionally, a case study of two important institutions have been taken as the case in point in order to verify whether the practices match such aspirations. Thereby, putting forth arguments that are critical for understanding the gaps between the aspiration and the state of reality.

Key words: Legal aid Clinics, Law schools, Clinical, Legal education, Social justice

Author Biographies

K Rajashree, Christ University

Rajashree. K is a Research Scholar at Christ (Deemed-to-be) University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Sonika Bhardwaj, Christ University

Dr. Sonika Bhardwaj is an Associate Professor at Christ (Deemed-to-be) University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India






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