The purpose of this comparative study is to help law students decide if they should enroll in a Bachelors of Law degree from Pakistan or the United Kingdom. We at Sir William Blackstone Institute of Law [hereafter: SWBIL] are committed in providing a world class educational experience to students who are pursuing their legal education with us. The information below will help them analyze the differences in the degree programs from a Pakistani or a United Kingdom university. The last section also provides insight into how SWBIL will help students, using latest tools and techniques in education, to fill the gap if they decide to take the LL.B. degree from a Pakistani University.
Bachelors of Law (LL.B.) from Pakistan or United Kingdom - A Comparative Analysis
[Using - Harvey and Knight’s Framework]
If you are thinking of starting a law degree in Pakistan, you have a few options. You can either enroll in a three year LL.B. degree under the Pakistani or the United Kingdom education system. It`s important to understand the differences and similarities between the degree program from both of these educational systems. I will be comparing the two systems through the following lenses.
- Language of Instruction [Exceptionality]
- Curriculum [Consistency, Value for Money]
- Critical Thinking [Fitness for Purpose]
Language of Instruction
The language of instruction in both the Pakistani and the UK degree programs is English. The language of instruction can be a barrier for Pakistani students who do not have a high proficiency in English as a second language. However, the degree program can helps students improve their language skills. The language skills are also required because all the legal court judgments in Pakistan are only available in English (Asad, 2009). Therefore, it is important for a student to inquire about English language support provided by an institute when picking an institution for their law study. The English language skills are required not only to pass the degree program but are also required to become a successful legal professional. Furthermore, English provides a link between the common law reasoning of Pakistan and the United Kingdom courts. A student studying law in the UK receives his or her legal education in his first language but in Pakistan the students are forced into receiving education in his or her second language. Constructing a legal argument in a second language can be extremely difficult if the student is not linguistically trained.
Coleman argues that if the higher civil service jobs [like judges and lawyers] are required to demonstrate proficiency in local languages alongside English then there would be a fundamental change in the way Education is provided by institutes and perceived by students. Students will strive not only strive to learn English but will acquire basic education in their local language (de Lotbinière, 2014). Currently, there is a social stigma attached to receiving education in your local language as pointed out by Fakhruddin Akhunzada [He is the assistant director of the Forum for Language Initiatives, a local NGO that works with minority language speakers in the north of Pakistan to develop first-language education](Lotbinière, 2014). The effects of colonialism on Pakistan can help us understand the social stigma of learning education in one's language. The language of the elite in the colonial era was English, and now it has become the part of the identity of a literate person in Pakistan. As Coleman proposes in his report that 85% of students will have access to education in their first language if the government provides education in seven local languages.
The curriculum used in the Pakistani legal education system is outdated and in spite of recommendation in the Law Commission reports, it has not been updated (Siddique, 2007). This is not the case with the curriculum used by the UK law degree programs. Universities like the University of London regularly update their curriculum. The university constantly updates their key textbook recommendations and also makes sure that the students use the latest editions of textbooks. This procedure ensures that the students are studying from relevant and updated study material. For examples, the books recommended by The University of the Punjab [hereafter: Punjab University] for ‘constitutional law 2’ course were all published before 2008. As the constitutional arrangement of the country has changed, significantly in the years following 2008.
Memon raises some interesting arguments in his research paper titled as Education in Pakistan: The Key Issues, Problems, and The New Challenges. He argues that the issue of lack of research in the Pakistani educational system is normally raised in every discussion about education and the reasons associated with this problem are the lack of funding and resources. Pakistani students have access to the local library provided by the teaching institutions, which are regulated by the guidelines provided by Punjab University. These regulations require the teaching institution to invest an amount approximately equivalent to $2000 in books and annually invest another $500 for books and $200 on journals and magazines. Punjab University had made the requirements flexible due to the limited resources of the teaching institutions. There is an online legal database service provided by PAKISTANLAWSITE, which can provide access to law students and faculty with latest judgments in addition to books. If we compare the situation with the University of London, the students in their LLB program in Pakistan or UK studying in the UK education system have access to a wide range of online resources. The University provides access to Westlaw and LexisNexis, which are the two most popular legal databases around the world. These databases have far more resources when compared with PAKISTANLAWSITE. However, it's important to acknowledge here that PAKISTANLAWSITE is probably the most comprehensive resource on Pakistani legal judgments and academic writings.
The curriculum and the study program in the UK are designed to invoke critical thinking in students. The study material in the degree program is designed to invoke critical thinking by asking students relevant questions through exercises and assignments. The teachers can find books on legal education that are designed to put the legal concepts into context. These books will normally have case extracts, diagrams, tables and highlighted sections to help the student understand the concept in different ways. One example of such books is the Direction series provided by the Oxford University. The books are also accompanied by online resources that guide students on key legal issues and updates. One such example can be found at this link: http://global.oup.com/uk/orc/law/public/broadbent_directions/. On the contrary, the Pakistani LL.B. degree program does not promote critical thinking in students (Siddique, 2014).
Due to a lack of research culture in Pakistan there are limited resources available to students both in the form of textbooks and journals. This scarcity of academic writing puts a limitation on the development of critical thinking of law students. The critical thinking is one of the key legal skills that is required by law students as they become practicing lawyers. This problem can be solved by encouraging the use of technology and the Internet to facilitate critical thinking in education. Instead of fixing the current education system in Pakistan that was built for a different age we can adopt a new paradigm for divergent thinking [explained in the videos below]. A student enrolling in the Pakistani education system will have to take self-responsibility in learning the key critical thinking skills that are required in the legal profession. This is also true for a student studying in the UK education system, although, that student will have more help regarding education material and the education assessment designed around core critical thinking.
HOW CAN WE HELP @ Blackstone Law
We at Blackstone Law believe in supporting a bilingual approach to teaching law to our students. Through the use of best practices in educational entrepreneurship, we connect the learning content with real life examples that are relevant to Pakistan's culture. This approach helps the student form an understanding around issues and problems that are relevant to their own cultural and political atmosphere. We also believe in promoting global, national, and local identities to educate a person holistically. A future lawyer should be highly skilled in locating judgments from other common law jurisdictions to prepare his or her case in the Pakistani courts. We provide a range of classes to promote and develop language and critical thinking skills in the students. We use books like the Direction series; that uses diagrams, questions, and exercises to engage students, to present learning content. The curriculum is taught in context and using techniques of constructivism, visual thinking, Socratic seminar, literature circles, learning through discussion and problem-based learning. This ensures that the students are not only learning the content but are also developing critical thinking skills that are essential to their professional development.
University of the Punjab. (2003). General Affiliation Rules. Affiliation Rules. Retrieved 22 November 2015, from http://pu.edu.pk/images/affiliated-colleges/Affiliation%20Rules%20&%20Regulations.PDF
Memon, G. (2007). Education in Pakistan: The Key Issues, Problems and The New Challenges. Journal of Management and Social Sciences. Retrieved 22 November 2015, from http://www.international.ac.uk/media/5179/education%20in%20pakistan%20-%20the%20key%20issues,%20problems%20and%20the%20new%20challenges.pdf
Siddique, O. (2007). Martial laws and lawyers! The crisis of legal education in Pakistan and key areas of reform, 5 Regent J. Int’l L. 95 (2007). Regent Journal of International Law, 5, 95–122. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/359352/Martial_Laws_and_Lawyers_The_Crisis_of_Legal_Education_in_Pakistan_and_Key_Areas_of_Reform_5_Regent_J._Intl_L._95_2007_
Asad, S. (2009, December 20). Current trends in legal education. Dawn News. Retrieved from http://www.dawn.com/news/509810/current-trends-in-legal-education
University of the Punjab. (2011). course Outline LL.B. University of the Punjab Notification. Retrieved 26 October 2015, from http://pu.edu.pk/page/show/llb_course_outline.html
Siddique, O. (2014). Legal Education in Pakistan: The Domination of Practitioners and the ‘Critically Endangered’ Academic. Journal of Legal Education, 63(3).
De Lotbinière, M. (2014, May 20). Pakistan facing language ‘crisis’ in schools. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/dec/07/pakistan-schools-language-crisis-lotbinier