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‘Freedom of choice’: NLSIU radically overhauls LLB course structure, following Nalsar, Oxford, Harvard, NUS into electives style

NLSIU moves into heavily electives-based course structureNLSIU moves into heavily electives-based course structure

NLSIU Bangalore has converted several compulsory papers part of its LLB degree into elective papers, following Nalsar Hyderabad and top international universities such as Oxford, Harvard and NUS.

Under NLSIU’s new choice-based structure of the LLB course, third, fourth and fifth-year students will be required to attain a minimum credit score instead of completing a total number of courses, in order to graduate. Under the current system, each mandatory course carried four credits.

“This is a move towards freedom of choice in education,” former 2016-17 NLSIU Student Bar Association (SBA) president Aman Saxena explained. “The purpose of such a structure is to ensure that while a student is well versed with the basic principles of law, he is allowed to build upon these principles in certain areas of his interest. This will enable him to specialize in an area of law that he wishes to practise or pursue further studies in. It also benefits teachers as they teach those students who have an active interest in that course.”

“In fact, such a choice-based system from III Year onwards already exists in other leading law schools of the country such as NALSAR and Similar choice based systems are also the norm in eminent universities (Harvard, Oxford, NUS) around the world,” he added.

The new system will come into force on 1 July 2017 with the only compulsory courses being those made mandatory by the Bar Council of India (BCI) under Schedule II of the Legal Education Rules 2008, and courses consistent with NLSIU’s ethos of creating social engineers (such as human rights law, and law poverty and development). All remaining courses from the third year onward will be elective courses.

The change had been proposed by Saxena and Shraddha Gome of the SBA and was then endorsed by four senior faculty members in early 2016. It was tabled for discussions before faculty in a two-day internal conference on the future of the curriculum at NLSIU in May.

Finally a recommendation committee was formed with chairpersons of the undergraduate and postgraduate councils, one faculty member who is an NLSIU alumnus and Saxena. The recommendations of this committee were placed before NLSIU’s academic council, which approved it.

NLSIU vice chancellor Prof Venkat Rao has not responded to calls and messages seeking comment since Tuesday.

Saxena commented that the five-year LLB program was a mix of foundational courses and specialised courses, and while the BCI mandates foundational courses, the specialised courses in more niche areas of law are not of interest to the general practitioner. For example, a civil lawyer does not generally refer to insurance law principles in his practice, but does refer often to company law and the law of contracts. And lawyers representing banks don’t necessarily need to be well-versed in the principles of banking law, unless they are employed with the legal department of a bank.

This would expose students to a wider variety of courses as well as to an array of faculty from India and abroad, and that giving this freedom by the third year would ensure that students have already completed BCI mandated courses and are mature enough to make their selection.

“We do not dispute that all the other courses, are important. But our point is that they would only be relevant to those who seek to pursue such a career option and not to all students. On the other hand, there are other niche courses like insolvency law, securities law, specialized criminal legislations and so on that could be just as or more important to a student’s career after law school. By making courses like banking and insurance law compulsory, a student loses the opportunity to study these courses,” Saxena said.

“Similarly, a student who wishes to explore her interest in International Law or perhaps pursue an LLM in such a subject cannot choose subjects like international humanitarian law or international commercial arbitration in fourth year. This affected such a student harshly as applications for an LLM are sent early in fifth year and such a student is disadvantaged due to a lack of exposure and experience.”

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By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.
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Like +5 Object -6 ElCid 30 Jun 17, 15:01  controversial
Something similar also exists in JGLS and RGNUL.
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Like +2 Object -0 Guest 01 Jul 17, 07:21
At Patiala you chose a specialization group and have choice within the same. While at NALSAR, and hopefully now at NLS, there is complete choice from what is offered overall.

Slight difference. However, in terms of choice based elective system it is a huge leap.
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Like +2 Object -9 good move 30 Jun 17, 15:13
Very progressive move!

But hasn't NUJS been implementing the same system for 7-8 years?
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Like +10 Object -2 Guest 30 Jun 17, 17:37  interesting
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Like +10 Object -0 PLODT 30 Jun 17, 20:23  interesting
Which is different from NLS doing the same thing which is the point of this article
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Like +6 Object -10 Professor 30 Jun 17, 17:57  controversial
Excellent move. All law schools should do this. Next step should be to request the BCI to make the following reforms in the compulsory course structure:

1. Make only 1 family law paper compulsory (instead of 2 papers).

2. Make labour law an elective (instead of 2 compulsory papers)

3. Make jurisprudence an elective

4 .Make environmental law an elective

6. Make public international law an elective.

7. Make mooting an elective

8. Make indirect taxes an elective

9. Make company law 1 paper (instead of 2)

10. Make constitution law 2 an elective

11. Remove all compulsory papers for LLM courses.
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Like +4 Object -6 Guest 01 Jul 17, 07:23
You aren't a professor, you are an idiot. Market isn't the only determining factor in the running of anything and rightly so.

Educational right wing!
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Like +4 Object -4 Guest 01 Jul 17, 07:36
Bhai, law padhna elective tha. Kaahe chuna agar mann nahin tha!
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Like +1 Object -5 Guest 01 Jul 17, 07:37
Har ghatiya idea profess karne waala professor nahin hota bache.
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Like +5 Object -0 Guest 30 Jun 17, 17:58  interesting
I request LI to please upload the new course structure!!
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Like +0 Object -0 payal91 30 Jun 17, 18:57
Comparison nls Bangalore with oxford or Harvard??? What is the sba smoking???
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Like +20 Object -6 NLU Stud 30 Jun 17, 19:16  interesting  top rated  controversial
Half the people studying these courses will be from Karnataka. Utterly pointless.
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Like +6 Object -6 Amicus 30 Jun 17, 23:44  controversial
Right so, when NLS does this, it's news. When JGLS has been doing this since 2013... wait... JGLS who?
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Like +14 Object -3 Guest 01 Jul 17, 16:00  interesting
Legally India is a chamcha of NLSIU. It does not highlight achievements by other NLUs and covers up scams at NSLIU.
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Like +7 Object -0 Yo Mama 01 Jul 17, 23:57  interesting
NLS would be advised to have enough professors offering a sufficient number of courses for the elective system to be successful.

In the case of NALSAR, the splitting of every batch into two classes has increasing the work load on existing faculty and constrained their ability to offer electives. Add to this the administration's lacklustre approach when it comes to appoint of new faculty members, the system is fast losing the sheen which it at one time enjoyed and thereby, the whole idea of an "elective" system.
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Like +6 Object -2 Pan 02 Jul 17, 01:04
? This, is a retrograde step. The 60 course structure was designed to provide an exposure to the fundamentals of law, for at least four years - not prepare specialists since year three. Insurance is important, so are securitizations. But so is cross-contextual learning and interpreting (not necessarily critiquing) structures based on different systems. Structurally, this is promoting segmentation in knowledge - and the obvious fallout is ignoring other views / seeing some forms of knowledge as the 'other'. Yes, Professor Bakshi once spoke about 'creating soldiers in the citadel of justice' - and its interesting that hr and lpd are still not sidelined under the clash between a 'career' and 'experience' at the 'mature' age of 22/23; but in the greater push towards autonomy the fundamental ragrai is being diluted. Library ja ke kabhi kuch padh lena please.
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Like +0 Object -0 Guest 02 Jul 17, 09:45
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Like +0 Object -0 Anand Prakash Mishra 02 Jul 17, 06:35
Glad for National Law School Of India University , Bangalore! This is one brilliant news when we were all sceptical about Karnataka assembly trying to provide domicile reservation. However, if I remember correctly, 89 elective courses in total were on offer in Spring 2017 at Jindal Global Law School this year! The success of a comprehensive elective system and course bidding process at our law school could be a role model for many law schools in India. But, this is all possible because of one factor - FACULTY! Almost every JGLS professor offers one elective or more in their area of research! 125 full-time faculty members at law school easily offer 80-90 electives even if some of them are committed to teach core Bar Council mandated courses like Family or Labour or CPC. But the secret of the success of this system is one and only FACULTY!
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Like +0 Object -1 KIITian 03 Jul 17, 14:48
The move is quite commendable. However, I feel instead of absolute freedom of selection of courses, specialisation groups would be better in terms of resource management and administration. Giving enough flexibility as well as rigidity would have made it easier to manage.

For example, KIIT has been providing the following curriculum since 2007:
1. Selection between BA/BBA/Bsc at the stage of admission
2. Selection of honours specialisations from 6 specialisation groups (IPR, Tax, Business law, criminology, constituttion, international law) after 5th semester
3. Selection of seminar papers in the 10th semester
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