A Law Aspirants Dilemma
While NLUs are the benchmark when it comes to law colleges in India, many students remain in this dilemma to whether choose and NLU or a Non-NLU college. The goal of this article is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of choosing an NLU or a non-NLU law college in India. Read: Top Law Colleges in India
Whether you are an NLU students or a non-NLU student, there are some inherent advantages and some disadvantages attached to being in any law college in India. And understanding each of these is important, because as a law aspirant aiming for a law college in India, it is important to play your strengths just like you should be aware of your weaknesses.
Let’s start with the Advantages of being an NLU student
National Law Universities or NLU are the creamy layer of the law colleges in India. There is no denying that NLU students do enjoy an edge over the other students. Read: National Law Universities in India
1. The Job Factor
The reason to start studying, might for some is passion, but for many, it is to land a JOB. And placements are the first thing that every student looks at while choosing a law college in India. The placement sector of NLUs is one of the most important factors for which the students choose to study in NLUs. It is true that all the students can become legal practitioners after graduating with BCI (Bar Council of India) approved law courses, but studying in NLU is the way to get into corporate as well for the students. The top law firms nationally and internationally prefer to acquire young law graduates from the NLUs. Not just this, whether it’s NLU-Bangalore or NLU-Delhi or even NLU-Gandhinagar, the recruitments stats on their zero day is something to look at. And these recruitments are not just from top law firms, but also from companies and banks like ICICI (which offers a starting package of whooping 16 lakhs p.a.), HDFC, Thomson Reuters etc. Besides, in an NLU, you hear about recruitment all the time. It’s like a reward you get to hear and aim for clearing the most prestigious law entrance exam.
2. The NLU Brand
Accept it or deny it, NLU students do enjoy the branding attached to their name. Top NLUs have amazing brands in the Indian legal education industry. They are in fact the biggest brands. This has happened as a result of a sustained effort from the NLUs. These National Law Universities go to great lengths to celebrate the success of students. They allocate resources and support students to go and win moots, debates and other such activities. They invite influencers and legal who’s who to the campus to give lectures and participate in various activities. These factors go a long way in promoting the NLU brand.
Apart from this deliberate branding, even personal branding is involved in these law schools. The students make an effort to attend conferences, publish papers, win moot court/debate/other competitions, and even write books in some cases. This is how they keep improving their brand and visibility. It’s like an arms race in these law schools, everyone is trying to build the biggest brand they can! And this is something that is completely missing from non-NLU colleges.
3. Facilities and Opportunities and a Strong Student Body
Be it moot courts, debates or MUNs, conferences, NLUs have the best facilities. Being a part of top law college of India gives you the advantage of strong student representation. The student body, elected by the students themselves, helps the students to put their needs and requirements before the administration. They help bridge the gap between the administration and the student. Infact, university administration has to keep the student bodies in mind while making policy decisions, and this means that NLUs are often far more student-friendly than traditional universities.
These bodies are also instrumental in organizing curricular activities, from college fests to talks by eminent scholars. These activities are not only good for branding, but also in giving a proper recognition and many other benefits.
Importantly, there student bodies and activities help students to build their resumes by adding P.O.R. (Position of Responsibility). The students working on these events and activities learn how to work in teams, how to communicate with experts and famous lawyers, get to interact with a wide variety of people and built up a solid professional network if they are smart.
In fact, even recruitment committees in most of the top NLUs are run by students, while private colleges usually have permanent staff to do that work. These student run recruitment committees are usually very aggressive, and have a lot of smart law students working for it day and night, making these NLUs a formidable force when it comes to recruitment. Most private colleges, despite all the money and senior staff, cannot match the speed, eagerness and earnestness of these student run recruitment committee.
In a sense, it can be stated that these activities helps the students to get an overall personality development. They not only get to explore their organising skills, but also a chance to participate in these activities and expand their network. And not to forget, when it comes to facilities, it is pertinent to mention that almost all NLU campuses have the finest infrastructure among all the law colleges in India.
4. The Drive to Intern
One of the consequences of being focussed on jobs is that students are highly focussed on internships. Before NLUs, law students did not use to intern. It was mostly an unheard concept. NLU students began to intern aggressively from their first year itself. In-fact, the entire semester is designed in a way to accommodate maximum number of internships. An NLU student by the end of their 5 year course is sure to have bagged at-least 12 internships, depending on his sincerity.
One very important principle which is every law aspirant and law student should keep in mind is that “internship over grades”. Your resume is worth only if you have sufficient number of internships and curricular activities rather than “distinctions”. Your grades are worthless for recruitment if you don’t have enough internships. As part of the NLU brand, you get the support of your alumni to help you bag these internships or guide you through it. The first thing you do once you start your semester is start applying for internships. This drive can be found only in an NLU and not in any other Law College in India.
5. The Crowd, the Competition
The biggest strength of any law college is its students who take admission in the college. To get into an NLU, you need to ace CLAT/AILET exams. Read all about CLAT exams here. The pass percentage is close to 3%. This means, the college accept only the top merit students. Better the students, better the competition. And the best growth opportunities could be found only in a competitive environment. The NLUs always have and promote the competitive attitude and culture in the institutes and within the students and this competition motivates the students to be always on their toes. The same could definitely be said to be true for non-NLU colleges.
But all of these do not mean that NLU does not suffer from disadvantages. Being essentially a government college, NLUs have often been plagued by red-tapism culture and often accused of inefficiency at the management level in NLUs. Moreover, NLUs mostly follows the old and traditional pedagogy of teaching which can make the institute lag behind when it comes to modern teaching techniques and pedagogy.
A non-NLU student could easily beat these advantages enjoyed by NLU students. Let’s take a look at how a non-NLU student can nullify the effect of NLU by taking benefit from
1. Great Infrastructure, Updated Pedagogy
The Symbiosis School of Law has made its place in the top NIRF rankings. Private law colleges are equipped with better infrastructure; updated pedagogy and teaching method which helps the students understand the subject by probing into the depth of it. The infrastructure in private law colleges is excellent, and the teaching rooms are equipped with e-learning, audio-visual learning experience, and air-conditioned classrooms. The campuses usually have all the comfort a student needs.2. The Benefit of Long Term Internships NLU semesters are structured in such a way that they do not get more than a month or two at a time for an internship. Most of them are located in smaller cities where they cannot do an internship throughout the year. Compared to this, graduates of certain colleges such as GLC Mumbai or CLC Delhi intern throughout the year and get a lot more practical experience, develop good professional contacts and references and increase their chances of getting through to and succeeding in law firms and chambers of good lawyers.
In this sense, if the experience gained by a Non-NLU student and an NLU student is compared, it is obvious that a Non-NLU student would have a more powerful working relationship with the associates and partners and a better understanding of the working styles and communication parameters.
3. Less Stress, Less Pressure
When you get into a top NLU, the expectations on you are massive. You are supposed to graduate with a job with a lot of salaries. You are supposed to get the best internships. You are supposed to win moots. You are supposed to present papers in great conferences and publish articles in top journals. You are supposed to get through a top university for your masters with scholarship and then make partner or senior counsel. Failing to do any of that means you are a loser. NLU students are under too much peer pressure, social anxiety, a few inches from breakdown, and even under family pressure. They may be studying with an education loan, which only increases the psychological burden even further.
The same however does not hold true for Non-NLU students.
4. Motivated Crowd
NLU students suffer from a superiority complex. Sure they get more exposure, often work harder and start earlier than most non-NLU students, but these are not absolute advantages. Any non-NLU student could overcome these with systematic development, planning and focussed execution of such plans.
However, the superiority complex is Achilles’ heel of the NLU students. Most of them don’t work as hard as they need to. They assume that landing a great job is to be all and end-all of law school experience whereas they can put these 5 years to far better use. Not just this, the underestimating factor is true for moot courts, debates, internships and even in law firm partnerships. And this is where they are in for surprises.
The Motivation graph amongst the Non-NLU student is pretty great. They work towards making their college better, creating more opportunities for them. And this is where they beat NLU. A sincere non-NLU student is more likely to explore, work hard, and take opportunities more seriously. A non-NLU student who uses his or her 3 or 5 years well is likely to do far better after graduation. The top lawyers are not necessarily NLU graduates.
Diversity is a positive point in private law colleges. In NLUs, the college only teaches law but in the private colleges, the students can interact with students and peers from other departments and courses such as engineering, management, mass communication, etc. which proves beneficial to expand the reach and improve versatility among the law students.
Apart from all these advantages, even when it comes to branding enjoyed by NLUs, Jindal Global Law School has built a great brand. If we look at placements and alumni-base, Symbiosis Law School, Pune is way ahead in the race. It has even made it to the tier 1 list of Law colleges in India. However, uncertainty regarding placements and exorbitant fees are two major issues plaguing these Non-NLU Law colleges in India.
All of these advantages and disadvantages apart, there is no substitute for hard work. No institute can give the student a good opportunity if the student is not willing to put in some amount of hard work and effort to study.