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First(ish) NLU grad to run a college: NLS’ Nigam Nuggehalli shares plans for Hero’s BML university law school

Prof Nigam Nuggehalli takes over as first academic NLU-grad head of an Indian law school
Prof Nigam Nuggehalli takes over as first academic NLU-grad head of an Indian law school

Nigam Nuggehalli, a 1997 NLSIU Bangalore graduate and former visiting professor there, has been appointed as dean of the new BML Munjal University law school.

While not the first NLSIU graduate to run a law school (that honour technically goes to Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer V Arun Roy, who temporarily took over the running of Tamil Nadu National Law School Srirangam in 2015), Nuggehalli will be the first academic educated at a national law school to be in charge of an Indian law university.

“Our plans are to develop this law school into a place where we can nurture and encourage what we call leaders of the legal profession,” he told us by phone earlier today.

Nuggehalli had been visiting professor in tax and jurisprudence for the last year at his alma mater, NLSIU Bangalore, before which he was at Azim Premji University’s school of policy and governance as associate professor from 2014, also heading up its new LLM programme.

He had also been a principal lecturer for the LLM at London’s BPP Law School - which administers the professional practice courses for English barristers and solicitors - from 2008 to 2014, and before that had worked as a tax associate at a New York law firm (having passed the New York bar).

He holds a 2012 DPhil and a 2006 MPhil from Oxford University (where he also taught, was associate editor of the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal for a year, and won several scholarships); he also has a 1999 LLM from New York University’s School of Law in taxation, and a 1998 LLM from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.

But - although his CV is extensive - he probably wouldn’t have qualified for the NLSIU VC post, which was advertised as requiring 10 years of professorship experience; another NLSIU grad - Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy is incidentally in the running for that position.

The newest private law school

BML’s law school - which follows the 2014-founded and Hero Group-backed university’s engineering and management schools - has started this year with 22 students nearly evenly split between its five-year BA LLB and BBA LLB (including management and business) this year; it has received Bar Council of India (BCI) approval for a maximum of 60 law students per batch.

Its campus is located between Gurgaon and Manesar in Haryana, around an hour-and-a-half from Delhi.

Nuggehalli said that the student had been selected by a mix of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) scores and personal interviews, and would increase in future batches.

“Our plans are to develop this law school into a place where we can nurture and encourage what we call leaders of the legal profession,” he said, adding that he’d been thining over the years as a student and professor about “what kind of law student I would like coming out of law school”.

Primarily, he said, he would like BML law graduates to have four qualities: to be “persuasive, effective, innovative and empathetic”.

While India had a “thriving practice culture” in the legal profession, “we don’t have a culture of public intellectualism in the law, or at least a very nascent culture”, he noted.

Faculty & research

BML currently had five law teachers, including himself, but would look to hire more, Nuggehalli said.

He would teach introduction to law, as well as his pet subjects of tax and jurisprudence, while professor emeritus MC Sharma also guiding legal education.

Of the three other faculty member assistant professors, two had done their LLMs abroad, and one had an LLM from NLSIU Bangalore (though none had been NLU under-graduates).

Research would take a central role at the nascent law school, though exact parameters about the exact research output requirements of faculty were still being formulated, according to Nuggehalli.

“Research is really important to any law school and it’s particularly important to any law school that’s interested in doing good teaching: good research leads to better teaching,” he said. “On its own its’ important to us but also as an important feeder to good teaching practices.”

Nuggehalli himself had been active in research on tax laws, in particular.

Future growth

Priorities for the future would include growing the faculty - BML paid above UGC pay scales though not quite as much as JGLS Sonepat, for instance - “but we are very serious about recruiting good faculty” and salary “should not be a problem” for the right candidates, according to Nuggehalli.

Tuition fees were currently pegged at Rs 2.55 lakh in the first year, increasing to Rs 3.45 lakh by the fifth year, which was “not prohibitively expensive”, though some “students will find these high”, he said.

Several scholarships were available (and currently availed of), though he did not have exact figures to hand at the time of our conversation.

NLSIU Professor to head Law School of BML Munjal University

· Experienced academician with experience of teaching and practice in institutions of India, UK and USA

· Holds DPhil from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law

· Prior to BMU, Professor Nigam was a Visiting professor at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore

New Delhi, 31 July 2019: BML Munjal University (BMU) today announced the appointment of Professor Nigam Nuggehalli as the Dean of its newly commenced School of Law. Professor Nigam was a Visiting professor at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore before joining BMU. Professor Nuggehalli has also taught as an Associate Professor in the School of Policy and Governance at Azim Premji University, during which he was also the head of the university’s newly founded LL.M program. BMU has launched School of Law from academic year 2019 and will be offering the programs of B.A. LLB and B.B.A LLB.

Professor Nuggehalli holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law, an LLM in Taxation from New York University and a BA., LLB (Hons.) from the National Law School of India University. Before moving to India, Professor Nuggehalli was a Principal Lecturer teaching tax law and commercial law at BPP Law School, London. He led a team of academics in delivering undergraduate program in jurisprudence and postgraduate program in commercial law and international tax law. Before joining academia, he worked as a tax lawyer in New York and is a member of the New York Bar and the India Bar (Karnataka).

Dr. Manoj K. Arora, Vice Chancellor, BML Munjal University said, “We are delighted to welcome Professor Nigam as the Dean, School of law. With his wealth of teaching experience and global knowledge we are confident that he will bring immense value to the university’s program. We are very excited about the future of the new School of Law under his leadership.”

Speaking about the appointment, Professor Nigam Nuggehalli said, “It gives me a great pleasure to join BML Munjal University and be a part of an institution that’s transforming the education space. I look forward to putting my years of experience to work for this exciting law school and empower our students to be globally recognized practitioners and thought leaders in this competitive world.”

Professor Nuggehalli has been instrumental in teaching a variety of legal subjects (contracts, commercial law, corporate law, taxation) with reference to the legal regimes in the United States, the United Kingdom, and India.

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