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Partnership between law school and India continues

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Ties between an Indiana law school and India were strengthened this summer as six students completed legal internships and a professor began a study of that country’s trial courts.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington announced Aug. 19 that over the next three years Jayanth Krishnan, a professor and director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession’s India Initiative, will be a project director for the study that will look at district courts in three different Indian states, as well as forums for alternative dispute resolution in India.

In addition to Krishnan’s work, six students who recently started their second year of law school were the first Milton Stewart Fellows to travel to India this summer. The students worked for non-governmental organizations, law firms, and the Indian Solicitor General’s Office. They all lived and worked in New Delhi for at least six weeks; two of the interns stayed an additional two weeks.

Both programs are important to the India Initiative, said Ramla H. Farzad, executive director of the Center on the Global Legal Profession.
 

India main Legal interns from Indiana University Maurer School of Law,  Jillian Rountree, from left, Erica Oppenheimer, Zachary Holladay, and Oppenheimer’s coworker Joo Hee visited Chandni Chowk market. (Photos submitted)

The study relates to the research component of the center, while the internships offer a practical component to students. The two components complement each other, she said.

Research component

The study Krishnan will work on is funded by a $261,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, something he helped secure by speaking with Ford-India.

He said he approached the organization about a study because, he said via e-mail while traveling, there wasn’t much academic information available about the trial courts and that most studies focused on the upper judiciary, especially the Supreme Court of India.
 

India secondary 1 Gandhi Smriti, a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.

“But that is only a sliver of legal life for most claimants,” he said. “The fact is that most Indians who deal with the courts do so at the lower court level.”

Ford helped connect Krishnan to the National Centre for Advocacy Studies in Maharashtra, the main recipient of the grant. That organization will also work closely with the Centre for Social Justice in Gujarat, and Jagori Grameen in Himachal Pradesh.

The study will focus on district courts in these three states, as well as various forums for ADR. These states were not only chosen because of the organizations, Krishnan added, but also because of the social, economic, and political differences among these states.

Cases there can take at least 10 years, if not 20 or 30, to come to a resolution through the trial process. He also said there are between 30,000 and 40,000 cases pending before the Supreme Court of India, not to mention the tens of millions of cases in the lower courts.

He cited a number of reasons for backlogs in the court. For instance, Indian trial courts are known for excessive granting of continuances, numerous vacancies on the bench, poor court infrastructure, and many instances of interlocutory appeals that tie up cases for years, he said.
 

India secondary 2 Cycle rickshaw.

“Plus there is also the issue of how lawyers are paid in India,” he said. “Most lawyers tend to be solo-practicing, courtroom litigators. A good percentage tends to charge per court appearance, which many believe provides an incentive for the lawyers to keep cases in court for long periods of time. Part of what we are going to be looking at in the study is the extent to which this is true.”

Krishnan said he and the others doing the study hope to determine what is going on in the trial courts, while also studying ADR.

There are also different types of ADR that have existed in India perhaps since ancient times. There have also been various attempts to have formalized forums for ADR since the end of colonialism in 1947, particularly during and after the 1980s, he said.

“ADR is extremely diverse and entails many, many different types of forums. Some are state-sponsored, some are not; processes, outcomes, satisfaction-rates, frequency of occurrence, predictability, and reliability all greatly vary. Some forums have lawyers, some don’t; the make-up of adjudicatory panels varies as well.
 

Jayanth Krishnan Krishnan

“ADR is available for many types of legal disputes in India, but the main question is what kind of justice is coming out from these forums?” he said. “Because the regular courts are quite clogged and it takes lots of time for cases to reach a final verdict, ADR is seen as a natural by-pass to the elongated court process. The problem though is with such variation present within the ADR forums, there is real uncertainty as to how equitable outcomes are.”
 

Overall, he hopes the three-year study will address the “empirical reality to the actual happenings within the lower courts.”

“Our goal is to confirm, verify, and/or reject whether this conventional wisdom is accurate based on rigorous data collection. From there, we can then make substantive recommendations on how best to proceed,” he said.

Krishnan said he plans to travel to India three or four times a year, and will discuss the study with his students.

Practical component

In addition to Krishnan’s recently announced study, the first group of Milton Stewart Fellows traveled to India for six to eight weeks this summer starting in mid-May.

Nicholas Dau-Schmidt was an intern at the law firm of J. Sagar Associates; Zachary Holladay worked for Jagori, a non-governmental organization focused on women’s rights in India; Erin Mihalik, also worked for a women’s rights NGO, the Self Employed Women’s Association-Bharat; Erica Oppenheimer worked for Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Suroff & Co., India’s largest law firm, followed by an internship at the Indian Solicitor General’s Office; Jillian Rountree worked for the Clarus Law Firm; and Renee Turner was an intern at The Dalit Foundation, an NGO focused on empowering the rights of the lowest castes in India, followed by an internship at the law firm of Lalit Bhasin & Co.

Farzad said the center helped organize the internships by looking for funding to support the students while they were living and working in India.

For instance, the NGO internships came about through a partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Holdeen India Program and its director, Kathy Sreedhar, Farzad said.

Alum Milton Stuart of Portland, Ore., also helped fund the fellows. He, along with William D. Henderson, director, Center on the Global Legal Profession; and Krishnan visited where the students would be working and living in February.
 

Ramla Farzad Farzad

Five of the students stayed at a hotel for guests of the O.P. Jindal Global Law School, which announced a partnership with the Bloomington law school a year ago. The sixth student stayed closer to the law firm where she was working at a guest house of one of the partners, Farzad added.

“What made this summer’s internships so fascinating was they had such different experiences,” she said.

For instance, one of the interns might work with an NGO and see people working in a field, while another would go to a lavish birthday party in the evening. The interns would then meet up to talk about their days.

“There was this really stark contrast … the students picked up on and appreciated,” Farzad said. “Everybody came away completely altered.”

While India was the first country to have interns from the center to this extent, she added there was a pilot program in China for two interns. She said the center plans to expand the program to include opportunities for students in Brazil and South Africa.

More information about the center, including journal entries from the interns, is available on the blog for the center, http://globalprofession.law.indiana.edu.•

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  1. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

  2. $160k? Yesterday the figure was $320k. Which is it Indiana Lawyer. And even more interesting, which well connected law firm got the (I am guessing) $320k, six time was the fired chancellor received. LOL. (From yesterday's story, which I guess we were expected to forget overnight ... "According to records obtained by the Journal & Courier, Purdue spent $161,812, beginning in July 2012, in a state open records lawsuit and $168,312, beginning in April 2013, for defense in a federal lawsuit. Much of those fees were spent battling court orders to release an independent investigation by attorney John Trimble that found Purdue could have handled the forced retirement better")

  3. The numbers are harsh; 66 - 24 in the House, 40 - 10 in the Senate. And it is an idea pushed by the Democrats. Dead end? Ummm not necessarily. Just need to go big rather than go home. Nuclear option. Give it to the federal courts, the federal courts will ram this down our throats. Like that other invented right of the modern age, feticide. Rights too precious to be held up by 2000 years of civilization hang in the balance. Onward!

  4. I'm currently seeing someone who has a charge of child pornography possession, he didn't know he had it because it was attached to a music video file he downloaded when he was 19/20 yrs old and fought it for years until he couldn't handle it and plead guilty of possession. He's been convicted in Illinois and now lives in Indiana. Wouldn't it be better to give them a chance to prove to the community and their families that they pose no threat? He's so young and now because he was being a kid and downloaded music at a younger age, he has to pay for it the rest of his life? It's unfair, he can't live a normal life, and has to live in fear of what people can say and do to him because of something that happened 10 years ago? No one deserves that, and no one deserves to be labeled for one mistake, he got labeled even though there was no intent to obtain and use the said content. It makes me so sad to see someone I love go through this and it makes me holds me back a lot because I don't know how people around me will accept him...second chances should be given to those under the age of 21 at least so they can be given a chance to live a normal life as a productive member of society.

  5. It's just an ill considered remark. The Sup Ct is inherently political, as it is a core part of government, and Marbury V Madison guaranteed that it would become ever more so Supremely thus. So her remark is meaningless and she just should have not made it.... what she could have said is that Congress is a bunch of lazys and cowards who wont do their jobs so the hard work of making laws clear, oftentimes stops with the Sups sorting things out that could have been resolved by more competent legislation. That would have been a more worthwhile remark and maybe would have had some relevance to what voters do, since voters cant affect who gets appointed to the supremely un-democratic art III courts.

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