The National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University of Law, Hyderabad, is planning to submit a proposal to the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry for starting a new regular course for legal assistants of lawyers (para-legals).
The duration of the programme and the course content will be finalised by the faculty committee. The proposal to start the course is most likely to be sent to the HRD Ministry in the next 3 - 4 months for approval and financial assistance, said Veer Singh, vice-chancellor of the university.
Explaining the details of the course and its purpose, Mr. Singh said, “Para-legals are not professional lawyers. But they will be taught basic courses in law, and are trained as mediators, conciliators, negotiators and counsellors to help settle disputes including land disputes.”
The course, which is likely to be a certificate course of six-month duration or a one-year-long diploma course or both, will encourage those who have a minimum qualification of a pass in Plus Two and above to pursue legal studies.
At present, there are many vocational training programmes for legal assistants including a bachelor's degree course and a few certificate programmes that are offered online by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
According to Mr. Singh, NALSAR has trained about 400 para-legals working in Legal Assistance Programme for Land (LAPL). Impressed by the initiatives of NALSAR students, the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP), under the Department of Rural Development, Andhra Pradesh, had invited the students to pilot a legal-aid programme to resolve the land issues of the poor, Mr. Singh said.
With its success, SERP introduced LAPL to help the rural poor in getting their land problems resolved. “Till date, the programme had been successful in helping about three lakh poor people get secure access to land,” Mr. Singh said.
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