Legal education seems to be pretty glamorous from the looks of it. At least that is what I thought when I saw National Law Institute University (NLIU) Bhopal’s campus for the first time. This was for the National Environment Meet (an annual event they conduct for school students.) For a 7th grader, NLIU’s campus was very dreamy. The way students conducted themselves was extremely impressive. To top it all, the event was one of the best events I had attended in a very long time.
“I want to get admission in this college after I graduate from school.” This was what a younger and presumably naive me, without understanding the degree NLIU offers, had decided. After this, getting into NLIU was a feeling that stuck with me. While, I was trying really hard to convince my parents to let me take up a journalism course, this feeling played a major role. I was half heartedly convinced that I can also end up at a law school.
I was preparing to enroll myself at English and Foreign Language University (EFLU), Hyderabad. It was after my 12th board exams conclude, when I randomly decided to take up a crash course for Common Law Admission Test (in short CLAT). 29 days later, I was writing this exam. Call it luck, I did not manage NLIU, but fairly managed to get through to the newest addition to National Law University family, Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University (DSNLU), Visakhapatnam. Joining DSNLU was a tough choice, but I took it up. Post that every day in college and now, at work, I just keep wondering, “was taking up CLAT really a good decision?”
I will try to answer myself today and possibly, you can find your answers too on the way.
1# Why Are You Taking Up CLAT?
This is the very first question you need to answer for yourself. I took up CLAT because I wanted to add value to my future career in journalism. I was also very fascinated towards the sophistication it holds. But, is that reason good enough? My best friend in college, wanted to become a chef. She makes the best cakes I’ve ever eaten, and her knowledge about cuisines is mind boggling. However, because her mother is a very famous advocate, she had to take up CLAT too. After 5 years of regret, and a month of futile attempt at court, she has happily opened her own bakery. Another friend opted for CLAT because his elder brother ended up in Amarchand and Mangaldas (arguably one of India’s top most law firms) after his stint at NALSAR University, Hyderabad. He took it up thinking more about the money that he will earn. Presently he is struggling to find a job. I know people who took up CLAT because they opted for commerce or arts in school or junior college and thought they have no better option for a stable career than law.
There can be a gazillion reasons for which you can take up CLAT. However, you need to distinguish whether you are taking up CLAT for valid reason. If you want to take up CLAT because you think it’s easy money, let me warn you, it’s not. Take up CLAT if you think you are a cut out for law. If you have recognised law to be your passion. If you are hard working and you think you can survive understanding innumerable laws (and a job that would require you to apply the understanding on a daily basis).
CLAT is an option for those who are ready for a challenging yet rewarding law career. If you are laid back or a procrastinator, you might want to reconsider.
2# What Are You Aiming At?
Irrespective of your reason, there is a certain goal you need to set for yourself to ensure that taking up CLAT turns out well for you. Merely writing CLAT is not enough. You need to have an aim, without which your decision to study law from a national law university (NLU) will be of no use. You just cannot aim to crack CLAT and enter a national law university. You need to target the best NLUs. Entering a better ranked private or state university, in case you do not make it to the top NLUs is better idea. Some of the Non-NLU law schools that are doing exceedingly well in India are Jindal Global Law School, ILS Pune, GLC, Mumbai, Symbiosis Law School, Pune, etc. These law schools have separate exams you need to crack in order to secure an admission.
You are absolutely entitled to ask me, why do I say this. There exists a huge discrimination on the basis of the tier of law school you belong to.
Law schools in India are a hierarchy in itself. If you come from the top 3 law schools, you are likely to get internships easily. The companies and law firms are willing to pay you more. Lawyers and advocates, alike, think very highly of you. This is not a rant. I do believe they equally deserve it. Students of top NLU have the right amount of exposure and interface with quality education, that shape them to be who they are. However, that is not the case with lower ranked NLUs. They struggle with internships, getting companies to sign up for their campus placements and the administration is for some reason unable to bring in a sense of quality in education. Thus, it is imperative for you to ensure that you know taking up CLAT is not enough.
3# How Do You Prepare?
Everyday I wake up with the same regret. If only I would have prepared a little more. If only, I started preparing a couple of months earlier. Now that I have established that taking up CLAT is not enough and you should only aim for the top law schools. It is also important that you take this decision on the basis of the kind of preparation you are willing to do.
CLAT is one of the most dynamic papers I’ve attempted. Questions are extremely difficult and are aimed at differentiating between the creme-de-la-creme and the rest. Every time a new university is designated the job to design CLAT, they acquire the authority to design it the way they want. For example, in 2011, NUJS, Kolkata came up with the lengthiest paper in the history of CLAT. They changed the entire pattern of the question paper, much to the shock on the students appearing for the exam. In 2013, HNLU, Raipur decided to introduce negative marking to CLAT. In 2015, RMNLU, Lucknow decided to online with CLAT. Thus, it becomes extremely unpredictable to assess a fixed pattern that anyone can crack.
If you look at the statistics, you cannot find one particular coaching institute that can guarantee stagnant performance with regards to top rankers. While one institute performs better at a particular years CLAT, it might not be able to do so the very next year.
However, if you read the success stories of most of the CLAT aspirants, they prepared extremely well for legal aptitude and general awareness. These are the two key factors which ensure success while writing CLAT and no amount of coaching can help you with that. Keeping this is in mind, LawSikho in association with iPleaders has launched its CLAT preparation course. This course is meant particularly to help you out with advanced legal reasoning and general awareness which will ensure your success at CLAT.
Taking up CLAT is not a bad decision at all, however, how you plan to write the exam, can be life changing!