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NLIU Bhopal selects student mentors to help freshers overcome “initial barriers” to becoming happy lawyers

NLIU with brand new fresher mentorship to make law school stay happier
NLIU with brand new fresher mentorship to make law school stay happier

NLIU Bhopal has launched a compulsory mentorship program for first year LLB students, which follows NLSIU Bangalore’s mentorship model, but is a little more structured.

Correction: The initial report stated that the NLIU programme is a first-of-its-kind, but we have been getting reports that other colleges too have similar mentorship programmes (albeit not necessarily compulsory ones). At NLSIU, for instance, the Student Bar Association (SBA) has set up a voluntary similar system (see below), while GNLU Gandhinagar students have informed us that GNLU has a mentorship programme, while Nirma University, NLUO Cuttack, HNLU Raipur, NLU Jodhpur and others too may have mentorship systems of some sort. There may be others...

The program is aimed at guiding freshers in overcoming various weaknesses that hinder them from graduating and competing with the best in the industry. It is mandatory for all first-year students.

NLIU’s faculty placement coordinator Raka Arya explained in an email: “As we all know, first year is one of the most crucial years of law school which determines how the students fare, especially in terms of long-term success in work and life after graduation. Often we see so many talented and promising individuals getting lost in their first year due to lack of guidance. This model aims to ensure that no student suffers due to such lack of guidance from seniors or lack of means to approach seniors.”

As part of the program final year students who have already been placed either with tier 1 Indian law firms or have been selected in foreign law firm vacation schemes will mentor first-year students. The mentors would be selected by Arya through a rigorous filtering process, with three to four mentees assigned to each mentor.

The mentors would be responsible for the growth of the mentees academically and also in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, by holding periodic interactive sessions with the mentees to identify their strengths and weaknesses (through a SWOT analysis), help them with issues at law school and work on their communication skills.

An important differential that makes NLIU's program different than NLSIU is that only mentors selected through a competitive process are assigned mentees in a completely random match, to ensure a level playing field for all mentees. In contrast, NLSIU has an informal system where each first year student is assigned a “family” that is comprised of their corresponding enrolment number match in the second year.

Additionally, if any mentee is aggrieved with their mentor, they can email the placement cell with their grievance and the cell will follow a fixed procedure towards resolution. The cell is also reaching out to NLIU alumni for advice on incorporating industry best practices into their program.

Update 22:04: A statement from NLSIU noted:

NLSIU has the most comprehensive mentorship system in the country. Apart from the informal “families”, we have an SBA mentorship system where mentors are matched with freshers according to their profile after interviews the freshers have with the SBA President and VP. It's an extremely effective system with constant follow-ups and feedback collection from the first years. We also have an Academic Support Program that assigns mentors for project writing and difficult subjects. Moreover we assign a reading, writing and speaking buddy to students that need help with English comprehension.

NLIU final year student and head of the placement cell Milind Ghosh told us that the idea first germinated among the final-year students during the last summer vacation and saw considerable interest among the batch which saw general improvement in the quality of students at the law school as the primary and only incentive for putting in the mentorship effort.

Ghosh commented: “We believe that all law schools irrespective of whether they are national law universities or private law schools should implement such programs to ensure that every student who comes into these law schools realise their full potential. For universities who don't have such programs in place we would love to share our own model with them and even take inputs with regards to how to better our own model so that in the future an uniform model can be implemented across law schools in India. Hopefully this is the beginning of something new in professional legal education in India which will help future generation of law school students.”

Last week, in news not directly related to the mentorship initiative, NLIU had banned six students accused of ragging from its hostels, pending investigations.

Photo via NLIU Facebook

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