CLAT: Way to Legal Education

Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) : Way to Legal Education

The concept of National Law Universities to act as a pace-setter and testing ground for bold experiments in legal education came up because the pattern of legal education at traditional Universities was not found to be satisfactory. In course of time, fourteen National Law Universities were established to achieve excellence in legal education. These Universities are national in the sense that substantial number of seats in all these

Universities are filled-up by students from all over India and the academic staffs are also recruited on all India basis. Till 2007 each National Law University conducted tests separately in different Centers spread all over the country and thousands of students after their 10+2 examinations took those multiple admission tests at considerable expense and with lots of inconvenience. In order to avoid the hardship faced by the candidates in appearing in a number of tests for admission to different individual Universities initiative was taken for conducting a Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for admission to different National Law Universities. However, only eleven out of the fourteen National Law Universities are part of CLAT. Continue reading “CLAT: Way to Legal Education”

Law as a career and importance of legal profession

Over the last few decades, legal profession in India has undergone strategic and substantial changes. Of late, it has become the most promising career option for many of the students soon after their twelfth standard. Now a days many students chose law as a career. Besides the basic degree of five-year, integrated LL.B OR three-year LL.B courses, now various specialised master degree (LL.M) courses are available now.

These options are available in addition to the traditional branches such as civil, criminal, corporate, taxation, labour and election law, there are new areas, including space, cyber, intellectual property, and international laws. Today’s law students are better equipped than those about 10-15 years ago. Earlier, students used to take law as their last resort, whereas today, many chose law as their first priority.

In this regard, introduction of National Law Schools have played a vital role in uplifting the dignity and standard of legal education in India. Scope of legal profession is very good, as compared to yester years. If, a student prefer to choose law as a career, following are some of the major areas, where a law graduate can explore his career:

  • Academia
  • Banking and finance
  • Development Agencies
  • Entrepreneur
  • Government Jobs
  • Judicial Service
  • Legal Journalism
  • Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  • Politics
  • Professional Counselling
  • Public Interest Advocacy

National Law Schools and Legal Education in India

In India, legal education refers to the education to a legal professional before they enrol as advocate or before they commence their legal practice. In India, legal education is offered at various levels by specialised national law schools (national law universities) or through traditional universities or through private universities.

In traditional universities legal education is offered at two different courses. These courses are generally called 3 year LL.B or 5 year integrated LL.B. Anyone who has completed the 12th standard with minimum 50% marks and who has not completed the age of 20 can join for 5 year integrated LL.B courses.

Some of the traditional universities offer this as a twin degree course where the student gets a basic degree after the third year (which is equivalent to that of any other graduation) and LL.B degree after the fifth year. However, there are other universities which offer a honours degree at the end of fifth year. For example; B.A, LL.B (Hons.), BBA, LL.B (Hons.), B.Com, LL.B (Hons.) etc. Simultaneously, those who have completed any graduation with a minimum of 50% marks can enrol for 3 year LL.B course.

In the late 1980’s the concept of specialised universities for imparting legal education was evolved and national law schools are established exclusively for imparting legal education in India. India’s first national law school was established in Bangalore under the provisions of National Law School of India Act, 1986 and the first batch was admitted to five year integrated LL.B course.

At present there are 18 national law schools in India. Till 2008, admissions to these national law schools are through separate entrance examination conducted by each national law schools. However, since 2008 all the national law schools (except National Law University, Delhi) jointly conducting a common entrance examination called Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) for admitting students to LL.B as well as LL.M courses.

Now the admissions to national law schools (except National Law University, Delhi) are through CLAT and a centralised allotment system is adopted for seat allotment. However, except National Law University, Delhi conducts a separate entrance test through which they screen the candidates before admitting to the LL.B or LL.M course.

At present, in India, there are around 900 law colleges in India for imparting legal education. However, it is necessary to note that, in order to consider a law degree as a valid degree and to get enrolled as an advocate, the course has to be approved by the Bar Council of India (BCI) and University Grants Commission (UGC). Further, even the college or the institute which offering the law degree shall have the Bar Council accreditation and UGC approval.

All those who have completed LL.B on or after 2010 shall now undergo an all India examination called All India Bar Examination (AIBE) in order to get enrolled as advocate in the roll of Bar Council. Only then he can practice as an advocate and file vakalatnama in his name.

[Breaking] Maximum age limit for appearing CLAT removed

While considering a Public Interest Litigation filed by the students of National Law School of India University, seeking to scrap the maximum age limit criteria for appearing the Common Law Admission Test, Jaipur Bench of Rajasthan High Court, passed an interim order directing Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, to accept applications without any age discrimination.

In this regard, court further directed Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, to update their software system, where the applications are accepted online, so that, no applications will be rejected on the basis of maximum age limit.

While issuing the interim order, court observed that, the Bar Council of India, itself withdrawn the Clause 28 of Schedule III, Rule 11 of Bar Council of India Legal Education Rules, 2008 on the ground that, introduction of discriminatory classification of students by prescribing an age limit is in violation of the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961. Court, further considering the candidates from rural areas said that, fixing maximum age limit will not serve the purpose of conducting Common Law Admission Test.

Read Full Judgment of Kshitij Sharma v. Bar Council of India (04-03-2015, Rajasthan HC) OR Search for D.B. Writ (PIL) Petition No.2497/2015 at Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur Bench

Earlier, in a similar case, Allahabad High Court also scraped the upper age limit for appearing CLAT Exam. Read more on No upper age limit for appearing CLAT exam, on the ground that, the same is in violation of Article 19 of Indian Constitution.

[Breaking] No upper age limit for appearing CLAT exam

While considering a writ petition seeking to issue a Writ of Certiorari, for quashing the advertisement notification issued by Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, which seeks, seeks to prescribe the upper age limit of 20 years as an essential criterion for appearing in the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT Exam), held that, neither the provisions of State Universities or the National Law School of India Act, OR any other law whereby examination conducting universities have been empowered to fix upper age limit in the Common Law Entrance Examination.

Court further observed that, the statement of objects and reasons of National Law School of India Act, 1986 clearly lays down that one of the functions of the Bar Council of India is the promotion of legal education. Similarly, Object and Reasons of National Law School of India Act, 1986 states as follows;

One of the functions of the Bar Council of India is promotion of legal education. To carry out that object the Bar Council of India created a charitable trust called the Bar Council of India Trust, which in turn registered a Society known as the National Law School of India Society, in Karnataka. The Society framed necessary rules to manage the National Law School of India with powers to confer degrees, diplomas, etc., and requested the State Government to assist it, by establishing the School as a University by a statue so that it could carry out its objects effectively. The State Government considers it desirable to encourage the establishment of such a national level institution in the State.

Court further noted that, when other admission examinations for the courses like B.Ed, CA, SC, MBA etc. do not impose any upper age limit for appearing the common admission test, a restriction of the age to take admission violates the fundamental right as envisaged under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.

While directing Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, to accept applications of the petitioners as well as other similar candidates, who are intending to appear the CLAT Exam, Court ruled that, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, is only an agency given with the responsibility to conduct the Common Law Admission Test, on behalf of respective National Law Universities, at par with the guidelines issued by the Bar Council of India.

Read Full Judgment of Devasheesh Pathak v. BCI, decided on 26-02-2015 (Allahabad High Court). Followed by theJaipur Bench of Rajasthan High Court also removed the maximum age limit for appearing CLAT.

BCI forbids internships outside university vacations

Prachi Kumari

On 11 September, 2014 The Bar Council of India (BCI) send a letter to the registrars and heads of all law schools, and to the secretaries of all state bar councils and has directed law schools to forbid their students from undertaking internships outside of their university vacations.

The BCI wrote: “It is noticed that some of the Universities/Colleges are sending their students for internship during academic session. The students can only take internship during the vacation (academic session is not on). The Universities/Colleges are directed that henceforth they should send their students for internship to the Law Firms, Senior Advocates only when there is a vacation of Universities/Colleges.”

According to BCI secretary Jogi Ram Sharma, “As per university rules students are supposed to go on internships. But when the academic session is on, if few go for internship, while the rest are having classes, how will the shortage of students in a lecture be accounted [for]? So all students should go for internships together during the vacations and not turn by turn.”

It appears that law students have adopted the tendency of collecting more and more internship certificates. In this era of cut throat competition, every student is apprehensive about his/her career and job. Since companies, during placement, prefer those candidates who are having work experience, students take their internships as grand addition to their CV. Therefore they run after it even during academic sessions. Although practical knowledge broadens our concept, a balancing approach is required to be adopted. Knowledge of law is equally important in order to apply it. Internship during academic session takes the time away from students and affects intense study. Subsequently, they study only at the time of examination for the sake of obtaining marks. This is alarming situation, because country requires a large number of well- versed lawyers in order to settle down thousands of pending cases. This is why; BCI is concerned about this tendency of avoiding classes for the sake of internships.

I think this new direction will bring a balancing phenomenon, where every student can have equal number of internships and no one will have to give up his/her classes in order to compete other in number game of internships. Hopefully, law students will attend their classes even after fulfilling minimum attendance criteria.