Choosing a law school can be a make-or-break decision in a student’s journey. Therefore, it is pivotal that you are able to decide on a law school which suits your individual needs and interests, and provides you the right platform to flourish in your professional journey. However, it is easier said than done. There are many factors that need to be considered before deciding on a particular college. The process is filled with uncertainty, and if you are unaware of the realities of the situation you are in, it can prove to be devastating.
Here are the 5 realities you must know before choosing a law college:
1. Law College Rank lists available online may not be accurate.
Almost all education and examination related websites, coaching institutions and mentors publish their college rank list in order to help students. In turn, many students blindly follow these lists to judge the worth of a college. It is advisable that before relying on such a list, you must be cognisant of who created the list, what their qualifications are, and what were the parameters that were used to prepare the list.
Nowadays, it is common for rank lists to be favourable towards private colleges for unethical monetary gains. Almost every private law college in India claims to be “India’s #1 Law School” but obviously, that is not true. In order to counter these marketing tactics, you must compare at least 5-6 such lists to be sure. However, an even better approach would be to go through every candidate college’s website and prepare a list as per the parameters which are most suitable to you.
2. What may be the right college for someone else, may not be the correct one for you.
There can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to choosing a law college. Different colleges have different charms. Some have a robust mooting culture whereas some colleges give more significance to internships and publications. One college may be renowned for their high placement numbers whereas another may be celebrated for the number of judicial officers they have given to the country.
Moreover, not all students come from the same social, political and economic background. In fact, each student has their own unique set of interests, aptitudes, skills and goals and it is of utmost importance to acknowledge the value of these peculiarities. Once you are able to identify your priorities, choosing a law college which aligns with your ambitions and caters to your particular needs becomes an easier job.
3. Location, infrastructure and hostel facilities matter a lot.
You may think that you’ll be able to compromise on these aspects just so you can go to a college which is academically more acclaimed than others but this notion need not be correct. A law college is a place for holistic development and since you will be spending 3-5 years of your youth there, it is crucial that you choose the right environment.
Metropolitan cities are hallmarked for their diversity, safety and finally, for the opportunities that they provide. They are usually preferred for these reasons. Additionally, it is highly recommended that the college you choose is located in the vicinity of courts and tribunals, as it would allow you to see law in practice, and not just in theory. Internships also become less hectic if courts are situated nearby.
As for why infrastructure and hostel facilities matter, they help provide an effortless and comfortable experience at college which will let you concentrate on the activities that matter the most and excel in them.
4. Placement records can be misleading.
Many law schools boast of high placement rates on their websites and brochures but these numbers can be deviously misleading. Placement records may sometimes be falsely buffed up in order to present a rosy picture to prospective students.
Usually, these numbers do not correspond to actual placements but only to placement offers. Mass recruiters are invited by colleges on zero-day, who end up extending low paying jobs to final year students. Most students do not accept these jobs but these offers are ultimately used by colleges to make exorbitant claims.
It is advisable that if you are uncertain about placement numbers of any college or if you feel the need to verify them, you must approach the alumni of that college and ask them about the realities of the situation. Not only will they be able to paint the true picture about placements but they can also provide you guidance about other facets.
5. Institutional bias exists.
Though the scheme of affairs in the world of law schools is constantly undergoing rapid changes, institutional bias is a reality that we can not deny. No matter what your skills are, there will be many people who will judge your worth on the basis of the reputation of your law college. Some renowned law firms only hire from top tier National Law Universities and perhaps from a select few other colleges at best. Some firms pay stipends to NLU students only. While some recruiters only consider government colleges and completely disregard private colleges.
In terms of pedagogy, the bridge between top law colleges and other colleges is slowly closing. But it remains true that for even the most knowledgeable and sincere students from low-tier NLUs or non-NLUs, opportunities are hard to come by as compared to top-tier NLU students. Whether this is fair or not, is another discussion altogether but this actuality is something that you should consider while choosing a law college.
It is worthwhile to note however, that just because certain colleges may sometimes be preferred over other colleges, does not mean that you shouldn’t enrol yourself in these colleges. As discussed in the foregoing parts of this article, every college has its own charm and choosing a law college is a balancing act, one must consider all factors before coming to a decision.