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2011 CLAT levels playing field; IDIA to pay CLAT fees for all in need

NUJS Kolkata has announced the 2011 CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) with radical changes, including distribution through the Indian post office network and the ditching of static general knowledge and legal knowledge questions. Meanwhile, the law school diversity project IDIA has pledged to fund admission fees for all students in need.

NUJS professor Shamnad Basheer said: “There are a number of changes. For one, this year, CLAT has tied up with the Indian post office to distribute the forms much more widely. Last two to three years, it was only two to three banks per state (and mainly states having metro cities).

“This year, we’re distributing through all major post offices in every state – so that there is greater awareness and all sections of society have access to forms.”

“Further, no static GK questions will be asked (when did Humayun die?). Only current affairs questions (questions between April 2010 and April 2011) will be asked,” he added. “Thirdly, no legal knowledge will be tested. Only legal aptitude/legal reasoning will be tested. Which means students don't need to study legal principles before they write the exam—only their process of reasoning will be tested.”

The CLAT brochures and application forms would now sell for Rs 150 from post offices throughout India and at each of the eleven national law schools participating in the CLAT. Application fees will be Rs 2,500 and Rs 2,000 for scheduled castes and scheduled tribe (SC/ST) candidates, with an application deadline of 2 April 2011.

The exam will be held in May 2011 and full details are available on its new website.

Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) project

NUJS VC Prof Singh on IDIA
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Basheer was the architect of the IDIA project, which is training and preparing students from underprivileged backgrounds for the CLAT exam.

The project would pay the CLAT fees to IDIA scholars but Basheer said that IDIA would now also introduce a means-tested sponsorship potentially for all CLAT takers in need of assistance.

“We have … decided to sponsor the forms of all other CLAT aspirants who may not be able to afford it. We will of course do this only after verifying their financial capabilities,” explained Basheer.

IDIA is supported by a number of law schools and lawyers and law firms, including Trilegal, Krishnamurthy, Wadia Ghandy.

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