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Confused about CLAT 2016 law school choices? The LI law school advisory sessions want to help

First difficult legal case? Law School Choice!
First difficult legal case? Law School Choice!
The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) can be the first rung in a five year ladder to some of the highest paying graduate law jobs worldwide.

A top CLAT-rank guarantees a place in the LLB courses of any of the older national law universities (NLU), of which the top five or so have consistently, at least for the last five years, placed graduates with UK magic circle law firms.

If landing a well-paying job is the biggest motivation for most LLB aspirants who want to pursue a college education, then according to Legally India’s recruitment coverage NLSIU Bangalore, Nalsar Hyderabad, NUJS Kolkata, NLU Jodhpur and NLU Delhi are easy choices facing the top scorers of CLAT and of AILET (NLU Delhi’s entrance exam).

Many many top graduates from these law schools land foreign law firm offers, Indian big law firm offers and lucrative in house legal department offers straight out of law school, every year.

They have therefore also ruled the law school preference rankings that have come up through CLAT candidates’ counselling choices in previous years.

The problem of choice

Lower down on those rankings are other NLUs, and their fees are usually as hefty as the top NLUs – Rs 2 lakh or more annually.

However, their recruitment performance is far weaker than the top four NLUs on CLAT rankings and NLU Delhi.

That said, there are many examples of alumni from the 'lower-ranked' 10 NLUs, who have made it to India’s seven biggest law firms, other big Indian law firms or found equally rewarding careers as fresh graduates.

But there are such individuals and examples also to be found in private law schools such as Amity Delhi and Symbiosis Pune, and older government universities such as the Delhi University’s law centres and GLC Mumbai.

These examples are not usually found in campus recruitment data, at least in Legally India’s recruitment coverage – which is fairly extensive and thorough on law school recruitments.

It therefore follows that when a law school’s reputation by itself is not enough to guarantee a cushy job to a fresh graduate on a plate, it is up to the graduate’s individual talent to land what they do in the market.

It is therefore not necessarily a bad career choice to take admission in any of the 10 lower-ranked NLUs, or for that matter in the non-NLUs. Each of these lower-ranked law schools is uniquely placed in terms of several variables.

And each of those variables has a different impact on each individual student.

The choice between the lower-ranked law schools therefore cannot be measured by one single measure – such as CLAT rankings or recruitment rankings – but needs an analysis of several factors.

Factor in the administration

One lower-ranked NLU situated in an inaccessible village may have a proactive vice chancellor frequently implementing dynamic policies to make this law school’s experience better than other colleges.

His or her proactivity may be seen in frequent additions to campus infrastructure, the introduction of new ways to improve recruitment performance, and other endeavours.

Compare this to a laidback dean of an older private law school that is situated, say, in the heart of the national capital.

Factor in the costs

An NLU functioning without a vice chancellor and with several vacant faculty positions for several months is worse off than a legacy government college which may also hold irregular classes.

But in contrast, the legacy government college may be charging a nominal fee compared to the expensive NLU.

Make up for the irregular classes by exploring internship opportunities.

Some of the brightest and most impressive lawyers and graduates still come from places such as GLC and Delhi University.

Factor in the alumni network

A young NLU with no graduate batches is just that: a law school with the NLU tag.

An older private law school on the other hand may be rich in alumni resources.

It will likely have at least one - and usually several - alumnus holding partner positions in most law firms, or may be operating their own start up law firms, thus being potential recruiters for their alma mater.

Factor in the infrastructure differences

Even among the top-ranked NLUs, the infrastructure – big playground, ivy-league faculty, mooting and extra-curricular activity reimbursement policies – of some is swankier than the others and this has no correlation to their recruitment rankings.

How LI will try to help

Over the next couple of days we will explore some of these and other variables that may be considered in influencing the choice of a law school.

We realise that CLAT candidates are confused and overwhelmed: the choices are too many and objective analysis is nearly criminally deficient.

So we hope to add perspective to this confusion by digging into our own reporting of the affairs of law schools – curated over the last several years – and lend some objectivity to CLATakers hurried decision making exercise.

And finally, remember: it is good to be confused.

It means you’re closer to finding something.

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