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This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.

Every disadvantage also bears the possibility of some advantage. And Indeed, non-NLU students have some advantages over NLU students.

This does not mean I am saying that one should not take admission in NLUs and should instead enrol in non-NLU colleges. I am not saying that non-NLU students will have it easier. Quite to the contrary, I wrote a very long article explaining what are the advantages of NLU students and why they have it a little easier than the rest.

However, I will be amiss if I fail to mention that there are some inherent advantages of non-NLU students. Understanding these is important because we must play to our strengths just like we should be aware of our weaknesses.

NLU students are too wired up and entitled

Sure, NLU students have an advantage when it comes to landing a job at a big law firm. However, they are entirely focussed on that, and mostly miss the wonderful training opportunities around them. A sincere non-NLU student is more likely to explore, work hard, take opportunities more seriously. NLU students are more likely to believe that they will learn things on the job once they join the law firm, and therefore make things difficult in the process for themselves. Getting a job is only the start, you have your entire professional life ahead of you after that. Being unprepared and entitled is a deadly combination as far as that is concerned.

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Compared to them, a non-NLU student who uses his or her 3 or 5 years well is likely to do far far better after graduation. You will often see this playing out in law firms and courts – the top lawyers are not necessarily NLU graduates. A lot of NLU graduates start their career at a higher tempo and then concede that lead over the years to other hard working non-NLU graduates.

NLU students are less likely to do 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. Also, they are kept occupied, mostly with not-so-productive engagements, they are unable to intern much. 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.

Just imagine that there are two fresh candidates join a law firm. One of them has already interned at that firm for a one year period, which is why he was made that offer. The other person has only interned for a month but is from a top NLU. Who is more likely to have a powerful working relationship with the associates and partners in the firm? Remember that relationships eat pedigree for breakfast.

Who is more likely to know the working styles and communication parameters of different lawyers at the firm? Who is more likely to be more trusted and given more tasks?

And therefore who is most likely to grow faster within the firm? It’s no different when it comes to litigation as well. A NLU graduate has something to overcome if he hasn’t spent a lot of time in long term internships.

NLU students have huge pressures of expectations and stress compared to others

When you got to 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 be part of the cool societies in campus or maybe even start one of your own. And also date someone hot. You are also supposed to party a lot and still do very well in exams. 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.

No kidding!

NLU students are under too much peer pressure, social anxiety, a few inches from breakdown or addiction, and even under family pressure. They may be studying with an education loan, which only increases the psychological burden even further.

In every NLU campus, I visit, I meet lots and lots of depressed law students. They are lost, they do not know exactly what they have to do, and they know that for every NLU student who gets a great job, there is another who doesn’t, even at the topmost law schools. This gets even worse in years when financial downturns are experienced.

Sometimes they follow the golden formula and still do not get the results they were promised. And they wonder, what happened? Where did they go wrong?

NLU students spend way too much for too little education

NLUs did not start out very expensive, but they are supposed to be self-funded and have become unreachable for most Indians today. Only very rich people can afford to pay the NLU fees today, and the middle class is forced to take a loan. Poor students do not even qualify for such a huge loan and are dependant on scholarships or organizations like IDIA.

An NLU these days easily charge 2.5-3 lakhs per year. In 5 years you rake up a bill of 15 lakhs. The only way you are going to get a loan that huge is if your family has a property to mortgage. Even when one’s family pays for that expensive education, they expect some solid return. They think you are going to make a commensurate return on investment. Imagine the burden that creates on a law graduate who may land a job that pays anything between INR 50,000 and INR 1.5 lakh. That said, private law schools are no better on this count though there are some reasonable ones as well.

There is serious doubt about whether the education on receives is worth the money and the loan. If I was considering going to a law school today, I will seriously consider going to a government college, doing long term internships, figuring things out on my own.

Also, my family didn’t have a property it could mortgage when I went to law school. I would not even qualify for a scholarship, as both my parents worked in government jobs. But 15 lakhs loan? Wasn’t going to happen. I just had to take a 3 lakh loan! And below 4 lakhs, it was possible to get an education loan without collateral.

What do the young law aspirants of today do?

NLU students underestimate non-NLU students and this is a weakness

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.

Lost opportunities cost you. So does under-estimating someone else just based on pedigree.

You will see this act out in moot courts, debates, internships and even in law firm partnerships. An NLU law student will assume that they are superior, not prepare well enough and pay the price dearly.

Do you have some thoughts on that? Let me know by replying to this email. Or you could even give us a call on 011-4084-5203 to discuss how you could create competitive advantages in your career and move forward faster.

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