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Indian Legal Education- enactment of the national law drama

Let me begin by enunciating that life at a national university of law isn't exactly a bed of roses. More so when one is part of one of the new nationals, yet to form a formidable impression within the legal fraternity (further continuing the process of clarification- even the oldest nationals akin nlsiu, nalsar and nujs can't exactly be referred to as the most popular of educational institutions in the country so stress on the word within). There is still an aura of curiosity which is pervasive vis a vis these NATIONALS which at the same time is perplexing and enthralling. I'll try to illuminate this apparent tenebros vision of persons willing to jump into the NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL pool with whatever farthing of knowledge I possess.


Legal education was neglected in our country for more than a substantial period of time. This itself is paradoxical because most of the eminent persons who shaped the future of India by taking an active part in the freedom struggle, were themselves, by metier, lawyers. However, going back to the story, with all due respect to the traditional universities' departments of law, they weren't (still aren't) exactly a mecca for legal edification. So the Bar Council of India took it upon itself to redeem the glory of the poor neglected array of the law students/aspirants. BCI managed to pursue the Karnataka Government to pass a legislature for the establishment of a national school of law, an university dedicated exclusively for legal cognizance and research, in Bangalore in 1987. This proved to be an epoch making endeavor in the annals of legal education history. The NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY (NLSIU) changed the way people looked at legal education, (they actually started REVERING it!!!). This university revolutionized the process of learning law and brought about a lot of changes in the field. The conventional 3 year llb program was done away with, and the country saw the introduction of a 5 year ba.llb program, to be taken right after school, at par with the engineering and medical courses (so finally we started making a progress). The skeptics were, as usual, at their sceptical best, raising noses and disregarding the idea, the novel concept. But the mecca of legal education (as it is NOW known) continued with its progress of reinventing and redefining clinical legal education. The blog would never end if I keep beating about the bush on NLSIU as it has made gargantuan contribution and revolutionized a career path for hundreds. However to make a long story short it would be enough if I say that the first batch which passed out in 1993 contained prodigies who are now doing not too bad for themselves in institutions like the World Bank, World Trade Organisation, etc other than, obviously, being partners in the top law firms all over the globe.


From the concluding portion of the last paragraph it must be quite clear to all the rational minds that the national law school's inception wasn't exactly a failure. As the NLSIU started excelling other state governments began pondering over the idea of establishing institutions akin NLSIU in their own states. Andhra Pradesh Government established NALSAR Hyderabad, the second among national law universities in 1999. After a while came NLIU Bhopal and NUJS Kolkata. The third array was completed with the estabishment of HNLU and GNLU in Raipur and Gandhinagar respectively in 2003. And the fourt cluster of law schools were RMLNLU Lucknow, RGNUL Patiala, CNLU Patna and NUALS Kochi. NLS Delhi and NLU Cuttack were established in 2008 and 2009 respectively.


But the question arises how exactly are these institutions different? The answer is simple- the students' mentality. For a change (I know it for a fact as I also happen to be one) the national law schoolites (no offence to the NLSIU family but by this I mean students studying in ANY of the nationals and not just them) don't look forward to wearing the black coat amid the indian summer throughout their lives and being uncomfortable but a financially lucrative career in corporate law. Names like Amarchad & Mangaldas, Luthra & Luthra, etc become part of their active vocab. To make this difference come into life these students do a lot of staffs in their undergradute lives, which, to be quite honest, the traditional universities' law department students don't exactly do. These include preparing 60 odd project reports during their stay at the law schools, presenting seminars every 6 months, attending conferences (national and international), doing 10 internships in 5 years and writing research papers. It doesn't mean the traditional universities law students don't do these at all, but as frequently as New Zealand qualifies for the soccer world cup.


At present the competition among the different law schools is tremendous with everyone looking to outdo the other. A careful look at their history would reveal that most of them with the exception of NLSIU are pretty new by university standards. But the ones who have released batches are occupying a superior position in the reputation hierarchy than the ones who haven't. However, the newer ones are not to be left behind. For an example, in the recently concluded national moot in NLIU Bhopal, our RGNUL team of Ms Bhoomika Modh, Ms Shirin Malik and Ms Roshni Chadda won by defeating NALSAR, a veteran actor in this law school drama in the final. By the way they personified women power as well, so congratulations to them.


Finally, I'd like to conclude as this has become a bit too tedious  for your likings already, by saying that these law schools, no doubt good, but are not the end of discussion as far as legal education is concerned. There are certain non nationals like ILS Pune and GLC Mumbai which are pretty good. Still if studying law in India is one's vision, entering the national law circus by purchasing the ticket of CLAT should be the top priority.


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