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Law schools are producing law firm associates, corporate lawyers, litigating lawyers, social workers and what not. There are so many fields that are now open to law students. Sometimes I wonder if the reason for low recruitment figures in some of the good colleges is because people over estimate themselves and do not take up jobs that don't pay as much as they think they are worth. Well, that's a different thing.
One thing that I don't understand is why does no one want to become a law school faculty?!
Go to any law school's first year classroom. Ask them what do they want to become when they leave law school. If you are lucky then one student per class will say he/she wants to join academics. That is a very low percentage of students willing to mentor future law students.
We always complain about how the teachers in a lot of law schools are 'incompetent'. It is similar to us blaming politicians of being bad. If good people don't want to join the field, bad people will. It's as simple as that. You can't complain about something that you are not doing anything to improve.
Why not become a faculty?
There is decent salary. Pretty long vacations. Normal working hours and job security. What more can you ask for?
Nowadays, a lot of universities have stopped the system of directing the faculties on how to conduct their classes. There is a lot of freedom in terms of deciding the course and teaching methodology. There is so much scope for creativity. Teaching is not a monotonous job. It is definitely not easy. I have taken a few classes in my University and I know that it takes a lot of time and energy to prepare for a single class.
It is a very exciting profession but is still not popular. Why?
Have teachers stopped commanding respect due to the advent of technology and the easier availability of information? Is the freedom given to a teacher a myth? Has it become just about money?
I have seen a lot of informal teaching done by a lot of students. I have been taught by my batch mates before exams. They also learn new things when we ask questions. Also, the feeling you get when someone comes up to you and tells you that the things you taught him/her helped him/her is something amazing.
If you encounter a problem, do something about it. Stop cribbing about teachers when no one wants to become one. Stop complaining about the quality of teaching. It's not an easy thing to do. Try it once and you'll realize it.
Go teach!

Teach

P.S. : This is more of a rant than a blog. Bear with me.
P.P.S:  If you are looking for a place where you can start, do check out the Teach for India Fellowship
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  • Guest
    to you Napster Wednesday, 25 Jul 12

    do you yourself plan on taking up law school teaching Napster?

  • Guest
    Putting things in perspective Wednesday, 25 Jul 12

    “Why not become a faculty? There is decent salary. Pretty long vacations. Normal working hours and job security. What more can you ask for?”
    At least at the NLUs, faculty has to do a lot of work during vacations, including evaluation, meetings to formulate and upgrade courses etc. Normal working hours can also be a myth because if one has to maintain high standards, one has to read continuously, and also do research and publish articles (that many teachers do not do it does not mean that a NLU grad aiming to teach would not consider this when evaluating the “hours”). Further, given the continuous assessment system, faculty is always busy evaluating moot memos, test scores, projects, presentations et al. Professors also have administrative duties, and are made responsible for a lot of events or committee management. Job security is a myth unless one teaches at a government college. And politics and administrative hassles also make life difficult.

    “Go to any law school's first year classroom. Ask them what do they want to become when they leave law school.”
    In their first year, even law firm associates do not know what they want. First year students hardly know their options, the pros and cons, what type of work they prefer. Just like a lot of corporate lawyers become civil servants, judges, litigators, and even pilots, photographers, businessmen etc after a couple of years in a law firm, it is likely that some NLUites would enter academics at a later stage. It will happen in good time. We already have a few NLU grads in academics – there will surely be more in the coming years. Wait and watch.

  • napster
    napster Wednesday, 25 Jul 12

    Yes I do plan to teach.

    I am not saying its an easy job but its a lot less streesful than a law firm job. And according to me, it is more rewarding mentally. But that's just me. :)

  • Guest
    N Wednesday, 25 Jul 12

    The truth is, most of us cannot take the responsibility that comes with a teaching job...it means you will have an impact on young minds and will be instrumental in shaping the future of these students and the country.
    So i suggest if you are only considering the working hours, salary and the duration of vacations...THINK again..do not take up teaching unless you are ready to give your 100 percent to every student who attends your lecture.

  • napster
    napster Thursday, 26 Jul 12

    N: I completely agree with what you are saying. I thought I should try and address the issues that people think are 'more relevant'. Every time I tell someone about teaching as a career, they tell me the salary and the working hours are the problem. So I thought I should concentrate on that. But I was wrong, I should have mentioned the 'wanting to make a difference' aspect as well. Thank you for pointing it out.

  • Guest
    zing Thursday, 26 Jul 12

    It is not true that the salary is good. The scale of pay for a good faculty is not even close in the terms of a decent successful lawyer. Salaries overall in the teaching field have to go up. The best and eager should take up teaching as a pride and the salaries should be enough to trigger major competition to become a teacher!

  • Guest
    N Thursday, 26 Jul 12

    I have considered teaching as a career myself..but what scares me the most is the amount of responsibility that I will have to shoulder.Its wonderful that you are thinking of taking up teaching.
    You are brave and hopefully capable too.
    Good Luck!

  • napster
    napster Friday, 27 Jul 12

    70k per month for a professor is pretty damn good for a teacher. Ofcourse lawyers earn more. But then they also have more working hours.

    N: Thank you. I hope I get an opportunity to teach and I do it properly. :)

  • nimesh
    nimesh Friday, 3 Aug 12

    i like you this article where u have precisely explained and highlighted one more career option to the law students... thanks for sharing it .. :)

  • Guest
    P Tuesday, 7 Aug 12

    70k a month?? Dear Napster, by the time you'll earn that amount, you'll be in a position to earn about 3 to 5 times that amount as a litigating or a corporate lawyer. Who are you trying to fool here? Also, if you think teaching in Indian law universities is a dream job, join it, face the problems of parochialism, lobbyism and incompetent colleagues / students, then come back and talk. It is fine to say that you will take up teaching, but lets face it, teaching isnt a financially viable option except for people with fairly deep pockets or who are exceptionally dedicated.

  • Guest
    Anonymous Thursday, 9 Aug 12

    Agree with #10. At the minimum, one has to have a keen interest in research and teaching. And when law school rankings are based on 'placements' and 'packages', it does not help nurturing such interest in a young mind. Is not India's poor state on basic scientific research proof enough? Our entire value system is driven by 'packages' and 'brand value' and we are happy to see graduates of top science/engineering institutes doing jobs that have nothing to do with science/engineering. Teaching, unfortunately, comes at the bottom of the list in terms of 'packages' or 'brand value'. Except for a handful of national law schools, most law school require LL.M. + UGC NET + PhD, which means about 6 years of further studies after LL.B. with very little or no money and absolutely no guarantee for a job at the end of the 6 th year. And even if one secures a teaching job, it only pays around 40-45K as salary. Try living in a city like Delhi/Mumbai or Bangalore with that salary. You may still be comfortable in a smaller city, but it simply means you are making life difficult for your next generation, because that small city will never offer the opportunities for your kids the big cities can offer. And for job satisfaction, well, a LL.M. degree though correspondence from an obscure university in India is ranked higher than a LL.M. degree from a renowned foreign university. And all your research papers in international law journals are not going to impress the 'babus' in the UGC to consider you eligible to even take the NET exam. I am not suggesting that only foreign degrees are good, but I think it matters a lot who is judging you and by what standard. To conclude, when we see someone joining the teaching profession despite all these drawbacks, the thought readily comes to us .. 'Hmm ... he/she must have been a miserable lawyer' :)

  • Guest
    N Thursday, 9 Aug 12

    Dear anonymous,
    lets face it, Not everyone can live in a big city. and gone are the days when living in a metropolitan was a prerequisite to securing a bright future for your children...rather than being an average lawyer in a crowd and living a very regular and hectic life in a big city,you can be a GREAT teacher and live a satisfying and peaceful life in a relatively small town...its all about how you look at things really:)

  • Guest
    Anunymous Wednesday, 15 Aug 12

    Dear N, the issue here is not Big City vs. Small Town, but the choice of a career and the consequences of the choice. Hence, I do not want to divert the discussion to the former. However, I must say that the issue of large scale migration to big cities does not seem to me as somebody's imagination nor the people (including a considerable percentage of educated people) migrating seem to be deprived of the power make reasonable decisions. A good education (not only at school, but at all levels) and a job/occupation is everybody's dream. So, rather than hoping that his child will be a born genius to overcome all obstacles in a small town in terms of limited education/training facilities, I think one would try his best to do everything to ensure that his child gets all the necessary training to survive in this competitive world. This may very well mean being an average lawyer. I think its better to be realistic rather than trying to paint a rosy picture just to win a debate. I dont know which small town you come from, but do you really see Mumbai/Delhi/Bangalore at the same level as say, Patna or Bhopal.

    As for becoming a GREAT teacher, I wonder if any of those 'average' lawyers started off aiming to be an average lawyer. So please don't argue that everybody choosing an academic career becomes great teachers. It is good to aim high, by all means, but just like #2 said above, the truth is ,nobody knows the nuances of a certain career untilll one actually undertakes it.

    Having said that, I do believe one should do what one enjoys the best. My concern however is, we are not at a stage where our career choice depends solely on our likes and dislikes. Since this discussion has been about the 'why' of not choosing a career is teaching, I have tried to point out some of the possible reasons.

  • Guest
    Educated to be confused! Wednesday, 29 Aug 12

    This indeed is a rather interesting post - partly because of my personal interest in teaching as a profession and partly because of the varied views on the same.
    For an intro, I'm an advocate with an LL.M. I've been working with a fairly good law firm since over a year but somehow teaching as a career option has always been there at the back of my mind. I won't shy away from admitting that my only reasons for not wanting to take it up are the monetary compensation and the prospect of having those laid back - disinterested- babu type of people as colleagues!

    All the same, I think I'll still probably end up being in this line maybe 10 years hence for it does provide the comfort of a balanced life, no doubt. As a member of the fairer sex, I look at it as a very comfortable option. I am not trying to be gender biased here. On the contrary, I feel women can be rather competent corporate honchos. Given a chance, I too would like to be on that side. But then it's also about looking at the larger picture - what do you REALLY want out of life. Speaking for myself, I think I would much prefer a happy, well settled life with a balance between my professional and personal responsibilities rather than a very hectic, taxing and in most likelihood, a lonely life.
    Not all corporate women have personal issues but let's face it - we live in a society which despite having progressed in many ways still retains a slightly regressive character with respect to women. Even in today's date, unless it's a love marriage, people are wary of selecting an advocate as a daughter in law. And irrespective of the profession, everyone -well mostly everyone - expects the woman to tend to household duties and commitments as a priority. Moreover, one cannot deny the physical limitations that a woman has. Taking a year off from teaching might not cost you so much professionally as taking as much time off from a corporate job would.

    I only wish this line was treated with a lot more respect - the way it is overseas. Why do we prefer foreign universities? Apart from the frills of living in a different country and meeting new people, the most important reason is their emphasis on education and good educators.
    And I completely agree with N - rather be the king in your own little world than be a lost name in the crowd.

    I'll conclude by saying that at the end of the day one should chose a career option by looking at their situation and interest in entirety and just in case like me, you too haven't been able to decide for sure...just try every option out a bit...it's nice to learn from other's experiences...but you'll never know till you try it yourself!

    Remember while I may love apples, another might hate them - you wouldn't know till YOU take a bite! :)

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