July 17, 2024
Blogs Featured

Journey from LAT to GAT: Shaping future lawyers in Pakistan

Designed by Freepik
By Ch. Muhammad Imran Ali
By Ch. Muhammad Imran Ali

The Law Admission Test (LAT) emerges as significant milestone for the students within Pakistan who wish to pursue their studies in the various law schools in Pakistan. It is equally important to ensure that the intended examination dubbed the LAT examination offers a sound and comprehensive assessment of candidates in terms of competencies that have been deemed to be relevant for legal education and practice. This Test also assists us in the area of admission since it helps in measuring or comparing the students’ academic potentials. Presently, the specific components that are tested in the LAT Test are as follows: it evaluates their effectiveness in the standard courses such as the basic courses, English, Pak-studies, Islamic Studies or Ethics and General Knowledge. These courses are very crucial in developing an appreciation of the socio-legal systems in which law is set hence developing the intending law students the intended paradigms. Furthermore, the LAT Test aims at assessing different aspects of logical analysis, which is an essential part of critical thinking and thus valuable when applied to legal contexts. These skills are required also in the legal education itself and encompasses the competencies that characterize the profession of a lawyer seen as a person for whom critical thinking and ability to construct logical arguments is crucial. Fourthly, the LAT examination raises the requirement that appearing students must demonstrate an understanding of and an ability to engage with legal reasoning. In essence, it assesses the candidate on their ability to understand the text and to understand and to apply the rules of law in hypothetical circumstances that will be relevant for any future lawyer who is going to be practicing his trade according to the legal system that is in place. This part of the LAT ensures that the candidate not only has a theoretical background, but also a practical experience, which can be evidenced in the way, the candidate handles certain legal procedures. In fact, this cannot be overemphasized especially in the aspect of admittance into law school as the LAT scores well illustrate. High marks indicate that a candidate has a good academic record and he or she belongs to an intelligent breed capable of doing well in law classes. Similar scores aid the admission committee in purporting one from the other that has the probability of excelling in highly competitive legal education and who will form important human resources in the legal market when the respective education is completed. Hence, scoring a higher score in the LAT examination relieves a candidate of gaining admission to the top ranked law schools that are most likely to shape their career in law. In Pakistan, the Law Admission Test is vital when assessing the capabilities and intelligence of any student willing to pursue a law course. Thus, through the questions that focus on the reviewing, synthesizing, analyzing and applying the law and legal knowledge, the LAT can confidently vouch that those who passed through it will be ready for a roller coaster ride through the law school and into the real practice of law.

Law schools in Pakistan have special curriculum, emphasizing the ways of enhancing the skills and commitment to learning legal knowledge, which is considered important by the prospective members of this profession. Especially for one to be at the center of this education, what is required and include Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Contract Law and Tort Law for the shaping of the legal system. Such as Constitutional Law course, teaches the learners the structure of the Constitution of Pakistan and its implications to the polity and the liberal democracy and freedoms of the country’s citizens. Also, Contract law and Tort law teaches students civil liabilities and obligations that are also taught to students how to reason out and solve practical problems that are related to civil liabilities and obligations. These core subjects prepare the future lawyers with basic skills of legal thinking and critical analysis of the issues and arguments in the legal practice as well as hone the legal and thinking skills that are important in law practice. Simulated courts and practical courts expound the theoretical concepts with the help of internships and other legal practical experience. Moot courts put the students in a position where they are given the roles of passing out arguments before a mock bench and in so doing help the students to cultivate their research on case laws as well as the ability to fashion out arguments for them. Another is internships that relate students to law firms, courts, or departments wherein they can observe stakeholders in action, and apply their learning from scenarios seen in real life settings. This shows that legal clinics also contribute to compiling the process of theory and practice continuity; students practice on the cases under the guidance from the teachers and are able to receive a lot of information concerning the representation of the client, ethical codes. Moreover, these practical experiences enhance the legal competencies of the students, professionalism and ethical corrections. It plays the middleman role in bridging the law school and the working legal environment which enables the student to practice what has been taught in law school. Therefore, the joint approach combined through theoretical knowledge and practical skills, which is observed in the Pakistani law schools, not only prepares a graduate with a deep understanding of the law, but also prepares them to apply this knowledge in accordance with current legislation to defend justice. Furthermore, the kind of legal education that is experienced by students in the Pakistani law schools is centered on a model that best offers the right proportion of the knowledge which is theoretically taught as well as the actual practice sessions. The emergent of this approach is most appropriate to prepare students academically and personally to produce effective and responsible lawyer in the future and as one of society legal professional.

The Graduate Assessment Test (GAT) allows the law graduates in Pakistan to form a significant step towards experience of entrance of a new field of career, which may involve a practical practice of law. As a useful tool that is resourceful, efficient and functional in its ability to test candidates’ suitability in contextual areas for testing purposes that relate to the academic, analytical, and functional-theoretical areas of assessment such as analytical reasoning, quantitative analysis and verbal reasoning assessment, the GAT plays a functional role in testing the core competencies relevant for training lawyers. These are essential competencies, as legal analysis and problem solving, legal research and legal writing are fundamental elements of law practice in modern multifaceted legal worlds. Furthermore, aspiring students have found GAT scores beneficial to avail of the opportunity in connection to admission to different graduate and postgraduate programs, scholarships, and competitive career in the legal field. Firstly, a high GAT mark not only supports the candidate in proving his or her vast and profound academic qualifications but also certifies competency for those specialized law courses or professional progression, which may emphasize the candidate’s critical thinking skills. Studying for the GAT needs to undergo the regular procedure of learning and consequently entails learning that entails cramming of content and acquisition of skills as well as spirited mastering of every aspect of the GAT tests. The design and format of the GAT is normally well outlined and it is advised that candidates study the format and layout of the GAT because the majority of the tests consist of multiple choice questions that in one way or another, measure executive abilities comparable to or requisite in university and other professional settings. Some recommendations can be made through accepting the study plan, based on each and every of the sections of the GAT, including the quantitative/qualitative reasoning. In addition, it is based on practice sessions, students should try to work on time management on the practice intervals as GAT is conducted within the given time duration and this time should be shared out in the various sections. Other areas also take center stage in preparation for the GAT and these are effective time management and study skills, healthy living, and how to effectively combat stress. In the long run, consequently the preparation of GAT not only increases the probability for getting admission in the best postgraduate programs but also positively transforms a candidate to play his/her role in the legal sector towards meeting new challenges in legal and other fields.

Transferring from academic arena with a goal of becoming a lawyer in Pakistan is a challenge beyond cabinets of knowledge, it takes a planned approach towards professionalism and learning. Despite the graduates getting their degrees and setting their footsteps towards the legal practice, they find themselves in the world that is constantly changing and requires new developments beyond the study. Mentorship is, therefore, crucial during this transition as the mentees receives directions from experienced practitioners who usually share their knowledge concerning comprehending the practice of law, clients and embracing of ethics. Given these prospects, it is crucial to note that mentors do not only provide technical skill advice, but they also enable the development of such soft competencies as communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills which form the basis of a successful legal practice. As important a requirement, networking exists to maintain the legal professionals’ connections with the community and other fields, leading to job offers, partnerships, and personal development. Attending networking events such as, bar associations or legal conferences are useful in that they enable lawyers to build and strengthen professional networks as well as update themselves on current market trends. Both trust and tie strength are key factors for network use as it increases visibility, credibility and contacts for career and business development. Furthermore, the services provided by legal professionals require continuing professional development in order to be current and effective. Continuing legal education (CLE) programs, workshops, and specialist courses are opportunities through which practicing lawyers can enhance specific knowledge, clarify specific changes or trends in the law, and hone practice skills for diverse settings: Ultimately, CLE is an important means for practicing lawyers to expand and update their own knowledge and the knowledge of their colleagues. The general adoption of outstanding technological trends and being able to comprehend potential challenges that these developments would pose to the legal profession is a responsibility that has to be fulfilled when handling clients’ affairs. Furthermore, Embracing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives also improve organizational culture practices and creativity in the legal profession and area of practice. In this regards, being involved in pro bono work and community legal services provide a way through which lawyers can be inculcated into these social justice endeavors and thus all lawyers have a professional and ethical duty to advance the interest of society. Therefore, it can also be concluded that in addition to academic accomplishments, legal career development in the Pakistani legal market is a rather complex process that involves not only gaining professional experience and a formal education but also personal contacts and learning opportunities. Through these pillars, aspiring lawyers will be equipped with proper tools in the transition from an academic life to professional life and develop proper professional identity, and further contribute to the development of the legal profession and betterment of society.

From striving as an LAT to transforming into a GAT, it is indeed a developmental process for the aspiring lawyers of Pakistan to build their academic, professional, and career-oriented trajectories. The LAT is on entry examination, testing essential knowledge and preparation for legal education; the writing Component of the GAT demonstrates candidates’ preparedness for advanced learning or profession practice. From the pipeline of the academic curriculum, mimicked through practical courtroom exercises, and internships as well as through continuous professional line exposure, future lawyers possess not only the substantive law knowledge but also the cognitive skills, moral commitments, and advocacy platform. Mentorship, and networking after that assist them to manage various challenges within the field of law’ successfully. Having such qualities of justice, never-ending aspiration of learning, and service towards the community reflects them as competent and loyal individuals that will shape and set the future generation of legal professionals in Pakistan.

About Author

Ch. Muhammad Imran Ali is Principal at Quaid-e-Azam Law College Kasur and can be reached at [email protected].