Diversity-Sikkim-classThe law ministry, law firms Krishnamurthy and Co and Trilegal, CLAT coaching institute IMS and law schools NLSIU Bangalore and NUALS Cochin have pledged financial or other support for NUJS Kolkata professor Shamnad Basheer's project to increase diversity in the legal profession, which visits poorer rural secondary school students to train and encourage them to apply to top law schools.

The IDIA (Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education) project was launched in March, as first reported on Legally India, and will identify bright students in disadvantaged areas and teach them for free to tackle the Common Law Admissions Test (CLAT) to enter national law schools.

Trilegal founding partners Karan Singh and Sridhar Gorti have personally pledged Rs 5 lakh to the project, which will pay for learning materials.

Singh said that while currently it was personal funding by him and Gorti, Trilegal would be fully involved once the project was approved internally, also offering internship places to students selected by the programme.

"At this point in time its personal - I wanted to be involved in the project at the personal level and they needed the funds pretty quickly," explained Singh. "The idea is that once this reaches some scale, while I will continue to do it on a personal basis, we will bring in not just firm support but also support from the wider community."

Bangalore law firm Krishnamurthy and Co and Mumbai law firm Wadia Ghandy and partner Ashish Ahuja have also pledged varying financial and logistical support to IDIA, including personal donations and offering internships.

Common Law Admissions Test (CLAT) coaching institute IMS has also agreed to provide unlimited free CLAT coaching places and learning materials for students selected by IDIA.

IMS national product manager Rajneesh Singh said: "It is actually a very good combination – [IDIA] are the best people to increase the awareness of law and to find talented good students, and it is our area too."

He added that eight students from Pelling in the North-Eastern state of Sikkim will be attending free CLAT classes in Kolkata and that there were no constraints on the numbers of the programme. "Even if we select 100 or 200 students, it is not a problem."

According to sources close to the law ministry, law minister Veerappa Moily and will make an announcement next month while also launching a separate training programme for lawyers in rural areas.

NUJS professor Basheer commented: "The law minister has agreed to support this project in principle and will also look towards creating a scholarship fund for this."

Basheer noted that the project was progressing well: "Sensitisation programs finished in Bangalore, Tumkur, some districts in Kerala, Sundarbans and Howrah. Also in a blind school in Hyderabad."

NLSIU Bangalore has also come on board to support IDIA, with Adithya Banavar overseeing the project locally.

NUALS Cochin student Raghul Sudheesh is co-ordinating the project in Kerala, with 50 students having volunteered to assist with their time.

NUJS students Diptoshree Basu, Ramanuj Mukherjee and Arnab Roy are leading the initiative in Kolkata.

Trilegal's Singh said that Trilegal would be supporting IDIA for two main reasons. "There's corporate social responsibility and I think the social responsibility element of it is not just for organisations but for each of us in the profession.

"Second, we need to widen the net if you look at the other career options and other mainstream opportunities – whether engineers, doctor or MBA grads. Right now [law] is very mainstream: access is to people who have lineage or to bright sparks who feel that profession is at the right time to get into it."

"But you can not build profession just with bright sparks – you have to go into non-core areas to go a little broader," said Singh.

IDIA's website and further details are at http://idially.blogspot.com/

If you wish to fund or get otherwise involved in the project, click here.

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Like +1 Object -1 Anonymous guest 02 Jul 10, 00:45
This Project marks the commencement of second stage of revolution in legal education in India. Hats off to you Mr. Basheer !!
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Like +1 Object -2 Anonymous guest 02 Jul 10, 00:55
Someone please pass on Shamnad's email address. I would like to make a donation to this cause.
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Like +2 Object -1 kianganz 02 Jul 10, 00:57
Shamnad's email address is shamnad [at] gmail.com
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Like +1 Object -1 Anonymous guest 02 Jul 10, 01:22
great initiative. good work Mr. Basheer. But i sincerely hope that students selected through the initiative, and other law students in the country, keep in mind the greater social responsibility...legal aid for those who can not afford it. Otherwise all we are doing is assisting in the poaching of more young lawyers to the big firms, ultimately adding to the already overflowing coffers of the rich.
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Like +1 Object -1 Anonymous guest 02 Jul 10, 03:59
Go NUJS! It is great to see NUJS leading the second stage of legal education in India...which goes beyond placements etc. and looks at entrepreneurism and social responsibility. Great work by the students too.
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Like +0 Object -0 LegalPoet 02 Jul 10, 04:06
Thanks a ton to LegallyIndia for supporting IDIA proactively.

Here is the concept note to IDIA http://www.nujs.edu/downloads/increasing-diversity-by-increasing-access-concept-note.pdf.

The funding note is here http://www.nujs.edu/downloads/funding-and-participation-idia.pdf
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 02 Jul 10, 06:11
This is a commendable effort and I don't want to sound like a spoilsport but will poor rural students be able to cope with an English-language course? One scholarship at NUJS = 20 scholarships for vernacular law schools. Wouldn't it make better sense to offer a greater number of scholarships at vernaculaw law schools?
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Like +0 Object -0 LegalPoet 02 Jul 10, 06:30
@7. Great point.

But the thing is this: will any (present) vernacular law school be able to offer quality education and sure career opportunities to its students? I don't think so. That is the very reason why IDIA is helping poor students gain admission to top law schools.

As far as English is concerned, yes it is a bottle-neck. For this year the idea is to concentrate on English medium schools in rural/poor regions.

Probably, from the next year IDIA teams will start teaching English to vernacular students. This requires concentrated effort and we are in the process of researching on things like how a new language is imbibed by a learner etc. An exclusive team which is focussing on English training is in place.

When in law schools English training can be continued. Mentoring, stipends etc. too will be provided. More on IDIA in tommorrow's blog post. :-)
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Like +0 Object -0 LegalPoet 02 Jul 10, 06:34
And you didn't at all sound a spoil-sport. Good questions definetely help.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 02 Jul 10, 11:54
As if the reservations were not enough, just have a look at the state reservation pushed kids in NLUs that have it, you will get a reality check. And who is this local krishnamuthy firm? It all is just an internship gimmick of NUJS guys, but just hope they get something good of it.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 02 Jul 10, 21:37
@10, what do you mean by "internship gimmick of NUJS guys"? Though this initiative was launched in NUJS, law students, lawyers and others across the country are involved now. I understand there are reservations in some law schools which may cause some concerns. What IDIA seeks to attain is not a tilting of the playing field in favour of disadvantaged students. We seek to make these students capable of competing on a level playing field.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 02 Jul 10, 22:23
@10:Read the article: IDIA helps people with CLAT COACHING and is not a reservation scheme. Anyway, local reservation has thankfully not been implemented in NUJS so far because there are no caste/language-based parties in Bengal (touchwood). Bengal has a very large Muslim population (one of India's highest) and parties try to woo them but I doubt whether reservation in NUJS will be given as a pre-poll gift to the Muslims. Law is not something the poor and lower income people want to study. Most people in Bengal haven't even heard of NUJS and want their kids to do medicine/engineering.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 02 Jul 10, 23:01
Your comment is ill-informed. "Internship gimmick"? How do you come to such a conclusion? Law Firms Trilegal and Krishnamurthy will offer internships to the students from rural and poor regions (which IDIA targets) from all law schools and not just NUJS. Other than NUALS and NLSIU, NALSAR and other law schools too haveIDIA teams ready to take off under the guidance of Prof. Basheer of NUJS.

His idea is simple. He has taken the idea of Prof. MP Singh, the VC of NUJS to a national level. NUJS students under his leadership created the concept note, the aptitude test and tons of other documents. Prof. Basheer now wants IDIA to be a pan India movement embracing all law schools. IDIA seems well on its way to do that.

It is commendable to see firms taking such a decision as a part of their social responsibility/diversity programs. I hope other firms too come in support, financial and otherwise.

"As if the reservations are not enough"? Again its a comment in poor taste. IDIA is helping poor kids secure admission into top law schools. The issue of reservation just doesn't come here. IDIA is ensuring that poor students have a level playing field when it comes to information (about CLAT-NLUs-Law-Career options) and preparation for CLAT. The effort is commendable and revolutionary.

Heartiest congratulations to Shamnad Basheer and NUJS and all other law schools and law firms supporting this cause.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 03 Jul 10, 00:00
@12
Actually most people in India have not heard of national law universities and everyone runs to IITs or medical colleges. I think IDIA is doing great to spread awareness about law and NLUs in backward regions of India. I saw their blog and they are doing great work in this.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 03 Jul 10, 01:16
Ignore the person who is trying to get attention by creating confusion

IDIA is a brilliant IDEA of Prof Basheer and AIDA (means reward/present) to the nation and law profession by the national law school students.

1. It has nothing to do with reservation
2. It is a nation wide initiative by 3 national law schools. more law schools will join soon
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Like +0 Object -0 False News With Balls 03 Jul 10, 08:45
Where are the top litigating lawyers? Haven't they loosen their purse strings? I heard they belong to a noble profession!?

What about other law firms like Amarchand, AZB etc? Where are they?
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 03 Jul 10, 10:02
@16: the senior lawyers and top firms are filthy rich but they are like the kanjoos moneylenders that premchand wrote about. for them giving one rupee is like giving a drop of their blood. the firms that have contributed so far have been then younger ones started by NLS grads. from my own expereince it is easier to get sponsorship for moot courts and charitable activities from the younger lawyers than the senior ones. a certain senior lawyer wrote on LI that foreign lawyers should be banned in india as are the product of the industrial revolution and indian lawyers are the product of the "independece revolution". i wonder how much pro bono work the senior indian lawyers who worship gandhi and netaji are involved in.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 05 Jul 10, 09:19
I read somewhere else that the project has not got enough funding? Where is cyrill shroff, zia mody, sameer tapia??? Where is mukul rohatagi, the narimans and the like?

BTW...congrats to NUJS and Shamnad.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 05 Jul 10, 10:15
i dont think anything is going to be furthered by this idea...the poor can never compete with us...back off!!!!
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 05 Jul 10, 23:32
@18: oh puhleeez. do you really expect our indian law firms and senior lawyers to contibute? they are only interesting in hoarding wealth and blocking foreign law firms and service tax so that they continue hoarding wealth. our indian capitalists [...] are also ugly on the inside. warren buffet and bill gates give crores to charity but in india a lower-middle class family has probably donated more to charitable causes than the ambanis, mittals and law firm maliks combined! these people summarise everything that is wrong with our country today.
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Like +0 Object -0 vyshnavineelakantapillai 10 Jul 10, 01:08
right now i am and i will be proud that i am a part of the project that is going to create new evolution!!! i sincerely thank shamnad basheer sir to take up the initiative and make us all come gather!! no wonder this project will be a huge success!!
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Like +0 Object -0 Jumbo 12 Jul 10, 02:30
I think its a great initiative taken by the NUJS. I would love to contribute to the cause if any of member would like to detail me out about it. Go NUJS Go....
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Like +0 Object -0 vyshnavineelakantapillai 13 Jul 10, 04:41
PLZ GO TO THINK LINK AND SEE. THIS WILL HELP U AND PROVIDE THE NECESSARY INFORMATION http://idially.blogspot.com/
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