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Prof Menon endorses overseas LLM degrees

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Professor Madhava Menon has said that a master’s degree in law does not add much value if a student gets a quality LLB education, as the Legally India forum has attracted over 20 comments on the topic.

Menon, the founder director of National Law School of India University Bangalore (NLSIU), spoke to Legally India about the relevance of LLMs in attaining professional excellence.

But he added: "If you give a good LLB education I would say it is unnecessary to go for an LLM.

"If you notice, law graduates from national law schools do not go for their masters in India but they go abroad, mainly for two reasons – firstly, to get exposed to a completely different environment and secondly, to get an opportunity to work in an international law firm."

He said that students who apply for LLMs normally want to specialise in a particular area.

Menon explained that in his 50 years of teaching experience, his objective has been to encourage specialisation by ensuring that only 50 percent of the core curriculum was compulsory and the rest optional.

He said: "In the National Law Schools 50 subjects are taught, out of which only 26 are compulsory and 24 optional. Therefore, a student gets to choose an area of his interest in the criminal law, corporate law or public law side.

"After studying subjects of your interest for three years, you sort of become a specialist or are beginning to see an amplitude for that subject that can be further polished if you go abroad for a one-year LLM.”

He noted that in many foreign jurisdictions the bar has started recognizing specialisation by awarding accreditation, unlike the Bar Council of India (BCI).

Menon observed that unlike in earlier days it was nowadays possible to start out a career as a specialist. "I have seen at my first batch of NLS Bangalore, one student joined Amarchand Mangaldas at the time when Enron was negotiating with the Maharashatra Goverment to set up a power plant. He was asked to assist a lawyer for research work, which he did so well that he was asked to head their unit on energy law. Now after 16 years he is an expert in energy law," he recounted.

Legally India’s forum has seen a more than 20 comments posted in the past week on the usefulness of LLM degrees.

'Shilpa' wrote: "LL.M in Law schools is the step ahead of LL.B and meant for specialis

ation in fields. Most law schools offer specialisation in corporate Laws, IPR, Human rights. It is a well designed course which is full time and residential, conducted by the same administration and same teachers as those for the LLB. At the end of both the courses the placements are organised by the students and only administrative help is provided by the University."

'Just Curious' noted that "technically LLM and LLB degrees cannot be compared and should not be. Both courses have different objective, one gives qualification and the other gives specialisation".

'Shubho' found LLMs severely lacking, on the other hand. "I believe LLM from a law school in India is not one of the preferred qualifications for law firms. Another indicator is the fact that a lot of Indian associates do their LLM after working for a couple of years, again almost always from a foreign university. This is also supportive of the contention that the LLM course in India is not oriented towards a career in a law firm. I also admit that people who are doing LLM could be less inclined to join law firms because the course is designed for people who are interested in academics."

Click here to join the discussion.

The LLM-related excerpts from our discussion with Menon were made as part of a longer interview, which will be published on LegallyIndia.com later this week.

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