Rajiv Jayaram & Aditya Swarup
Legal education has grown steadily in India after Independence, but the leap has been exponential in the last three decades. This accelerated pace in the growth of legal education coincided with liberalisation of India's economy and its increasing integration with a globalised world. Economic liberalisation since 1991 expanded the utility and scope of legal services in India's economy, corporate sector and public policy. Growing globalisation as well as emergence of trans-national challenges like terrorism and climate change underlined the need for broader and international collaboration in legal research. To improve and coordinate national responses to them and to ensure the protection of states and individuals, countries had to boost investments and research in legal education. At the same time, one must not forget that the lawyer's task is ultimately concerned with justice and, as Max Radin said "any legal teaching that ignores justice has missed most of its point".
The success, if any, of legal education can be largely attributed to what started as an experiment in 1987 with National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Bangalore. What started as the first ever 5-year integrated BALLB (H) programme has become a full-fledged story with 19 National Law Universities (NLUs) set up in 18 different states and union territories. The five-year LLB programme has become the flagship and mainstream law programme today. However, with numerous other law colleges existing and many more coming up, there is a dearth of faculty, let alone good faculty, to teach in these law schools.
The admissions to national law schools are currently governed by the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). Admissions and legal education are, however, fraught with hiccups that require urgent attention. The proliferation of law colleges, the low level of funding and full-time staffing means that the ability of Indian law schools to undertake substantive research and scholarship is very limited. It is in these circumstances that two recent trends in legal education ought to be discussed.
First is the imposition of an age limit (20 years) by the BCI to pursue law. In a landmark judgment in 2015, the Supreme Court of India scrapped the upper age limit (under Rule 28 of the Legal Education Rules, 2008) imposed by BCI for applicants of the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for admissions to state law colleges and universities, making it clear that no age limits can apply to aspirants seeking to study law in the country. However, in November 2016, the BCI restored Rule 28. The upper age limit prescribed under this rule has again stayed by the Supreme Court in March this year, pending final hearing.
Second is the changing attitude towards the teaching and curricula in law schools. Despite infrastructural limitations in most law schools, the best law schools in the country still manage to retain students of high calibre and intellect. The quality of the teaching, range of courses and research is top notch. This is further shown by the opportunities available for the students of these institutions after graduation; LLMs and PhDs from the best universities in the world, placements in the top firms in India and abroad, and even non-law based opportunities. In fact, one of the advantages of a law degree is the many career options available to a lawyer after graduation.
The governing regulations of the BCI mandate that every law student must undertake a minimum number of mandatory courses — thereby ensuring that each student has a basic understanding of the subject. In addition to these mandatory courses, the student can undertake credit based electives and specialisations. Students are required to research and evaluate what kind of programme or elective is right for them. Apart from the traditional branches such as civil, criminal, corporate, taxation and labour and trade, there are new areas such as human rights, gender, cyber law, intellectual property law, arbitration, international law, space law and sports law that a student can specialise in.
A person with a background in legal education can, in additional to practicing law, also seek career opportunities in other spheres.One of the advantages of a law degree is that there are many career options available to a lawyer after graduation. A student may consider a career in litigation, law firms, corporates, human rights, the NGO sector, public policy, UPSC, the UN, journalism and the like. Legal institutionscapitalise on these advantages and help students diversify their career options after law school.
To conclude, the law course, be it the five-year integrated LLB programme or the three- year LLB programme, is a great academic experience. Upon completion, the student has varied skills that give him or her the set or temper to pursue numerous career options. Law is intrinsically connected to society, and its transformational impact on society can never be over rated.
— Rajiv Jayaram is a senior editor at the International Institute of Higher Education and Capacity Building (IIHEd) at O.P. Jindal Global University. Aditya Swarup is an Assistant Professor and Dean at O.P. Jindal Global University
How to choose the right law school?
The unavoidable question any aspiring law student will have to answer is what considerations should one weigh when picking a law school. Any decision to select the right law school ought to rest primarily on three factors; the infrastructure available, quality of faculty and the opportunities upon graduation. Despite over 1,200 law colleges in the country, very few legal institutions meet these criteria. The national law universities and a few private universities are certainly great options for law aspirants.
As regards the admission process, most national law universities admit students on the basis of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). National Law University in Delhi conducts its own exam AILET to admit students. CLAT & AILET remain the most important and competitive law entrance exams in the country. Admission to JGLS is made on the basis of LSAT-India exam which has become another most popular law entrance exam in the country with approximately 6,000 students registering for the exam in 2016. Other leading private law schools across the country like Symbiosis Law School in Pune (also campuses in Noida & Hyderabad), Christ College in Bangalore, KIIT in Bhubaneswar, Nirma in Ahmedabad and Amity in Delhi/Noida have also become preferred destinations for legal education for students from across the country. Most of them conduct their own entrance exams like SET of Symbiosis or admit on the basis of CLAT.
What to expect as a student?
The law school curriculum is structured in a way that exposes the student to many facets of the law. However, one notices that the moment a student joins law school, he or she is focused on joining a corporate firm, taking the UPSC exam or the like. While it is good to be ambitious and have a plan, the student must not shut out his or her options. It is beneficial to be exposed to different areas of the law and then make a decision on what line to pursue. At the same time, a tenure at law school can be an exhilarating experience. It is a time to make amazing friends, share different experiences and learn from one another. The social and the academic experience complement each other.
This specialisation encompasses a multitude areas of law brought together in unique ways. Sports law can be roughly divided into the areas of amateur, professional, and international sports. It covers law of contract (Club agreements, individual sports contract etc.
Air and space law
Air and Space Law is fast emerging as an important branch of law. NUJS, Kolkata is offering Post Graduate Diploma in Air and Space Law (PGDASL) . NALSAR, Hyderabad also offers a similar course. The course is designed to provide an in depth understanding of Air Law and Space Law.
Intellectual property rights (IPR)
IPR refers to the legal rights granted with the aim of protecting the creations of the intellect. These rights include Industrial Property Rights (e.g. patents, industrial designs and trademarks) and Copyright (right of the author or creator) and Related Rights (rights of the performers, producers and broadcasting organisations).
Law College, Dehradun
It is the first independent law college and the first college in the state of Uttarakhand to get Bar Council of India’s approval. It has pioneered the 5-years BA.LL.B integrated course in northern region. Courses offered include three-year LL.B course along with five-year integrated programs in BALLB. (Hons) and BBALLB. (Hons.). There are 320 seats.
Jindal Global Law School, Sonepat
It offers specialisation in three streams. JGLS has entered into collaborations, exchange programmes, and research partnerships with elite universities and institutions from across the globe. It offers 3-year, five-year courses.
Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala
Established by the State Legislature of Punjab by passing the Rajiv Gandhi University of Law Punjab Act, 2006 (Punjab Act No. 12 of 2006), RGNUL started functioning from May 26, 2006. The main campus of the university is at Sidhuwal, Bhadson Road, Patiala in an area of 50 acres.
The university acquired approval of the Bar Council of India (BCI) in August 2006 and is a regular member of Association of Indian Universities (AIU), New Delhi and several other prestigious national and international institutions / organisations.
Courses offered: The university is running 5-year Integrated Law Course BALLB. (Hons.) and one-year post-graduation course in Law (LLM). The university also enrolls researchers for PhD in law and PhD in social sciences with law.
In the graduation course in law, the students have the choice to pick up the subjects of arts for their major or minor subjects out of economics, sociology, political science and history. In their fourth and fifth year, the students can adopt any stream to undertake a specialisation in Business Laws, International Laws, Constitutional Law or Criminal Law. Specialisations are also offered in the PG course.
Getting in: Students from all over India and even outside are eligible to join RGNUL on the basis of merit of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). Admissions to BALLB (Hons.) and LLM are made, every year, on the basis of the entrance test. The total intake for each batch in BALLB (Hons.) is 180 (excluding the supernumerary seats in the NRI/Wards of Kashmiri Migrants / Jammu & Kashmir Residents Category). For the LLM, the total intake for each year is 40 students.
Army Institute of Law, Mohali
Army Institute of Law has been Ranked no 1 Institute by GHRDC in the Northern Region. It is Institute is affiliated to the Punjabi University, Patiala and approved by the Bar Council of India. With 'Aspire & Achieve' as its motto, the Institute has grown as a Centre of Excellence in the field of legal education. The Institute is accredited grade 'A' by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). AIL has a magnificent residential campus in an impressive architectural structure in the vicinity of Chandigarh and Punjab & Haryana High Court. Admission to 60 seats for wards of Army personnel is done through entrance test conducted by AIL under the aegis of AWES. Admission to 4 seats in the All India Category is also through the same entrance test.
Himachal Pradesh University, Department of Laws, Shimla
Since its inception the department has been actively engaged in imparting legal education, training and
legal research benefiting students desirous of pursuing their career in law. Admission to the three year LLB course is thorugh an entrance test The department has a distinction of producing some best professionals, statesmen and officers rendering useful service to the nation. Its alumni include judges of high courts, union cabinet ministers, state cabinet ministers, senior bureaucrats, police officers, officers of subordinate judiciary, law officers, civil servants and members of the legal profession.
College Of Legal Studies (CoES), UPES, Dehradun
USP: Only institute in South Asian region to offer specialised courses like BALLB with specialisation in Energy Laws, BBA LLB (Hons) Corporate Law and B.Com + LLB with specialisation in Taxation Laws and BTech Energy Technology + LLB with specialisation in Intellectual Property Rights and BTech Computer Science & Engineering with specialisation in Cyber Laws
University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh
Faculty of Law, ICFAI University, Dehradun
Institute of Law, Kurukshetra University
Campus Law Centre, Delhi University
Punjab School of Law, Punjabi University, Patiala
website: http://punjabiuniversity.ac.in/ pbiuniweb/pages/departments
School of Legal Studies Guru Nanak Dev University, Jalandhar
Government Mohindra College, Patiala
Course offered: BALLB
Bhai Gurdas College of Law, Sangrur
Course Offered: BA, LL.B five-year, and LL.B three-year
Seats: 160 seats in BALL.B and 80 in LLB
Maharishi Markandeshwar University Trust, Mullana (Ambala)
Law Department, Chaudhary Devi Lal University, Sirsa
Courses offered: BA LLB
(Integrated Five Year)
Faculty of Law, MDU, Rohtak
K.C. Law College, Jammu
Dogra Law College, Jammu
Chhaju Ram Law College, Hisar
Vaish College of Law, Rohtak