In our series of posts on law schools, the next in line is NLSIU, Bangalore, known to be the best law school in India, written by Preeta Dhar who passed out of NLS this year.
Over to Preeta.
The National Law School of India University, more commonly known as NLS (locally known as the “Nagarbhavi Law College”, and more controversially known as “the Law School”) is what every law aspirant is told he should dream of. Arguably, and statistically, it is the best (or at least, one of the best) law colleges in the country. Of course, no institution of repute can live up to all the hopes, dreams and expectations that have been created around it. Add to that all the necessary hazards associated with any competitive, elite institution. So what is it really like? Here is an inside perspective.
Quality of education at NLS Bangalore
Firstly, not every course is life-changing or profound. On the contrary, they often tend to be routine, and unbearably boring. The routine of a “trimester system” is at first terrifying, then hectic and exhausting. For the uninitiated, the trimester system involves 4 entire courses being taught and evaluated in three months. This means that in your first 3 months of college, you will have suffered 8 exams, 4 research papers, 4 vivas and more than a thousand pages of reading materials (excluding class notes – yours, or those photocopied from the more fervent ‘note-takers’ of the batch). And of course, some professors like to spice things up with “surprise tests” and “take home tests” and other such instruments of torment. While you may be told that this “rigorous work culture” is one of the “hallmarks of the college”, you might just find yourself utterly burnt out in this frantic goose chase.
However, in all fairness, the quality of education in the college is decent. There are courses that are truly remarkable. There are professors that encourage you to question your pre-conceived notions, exhilarate you with drawing links and connections, challenge you to think beyond the textbook and learn to read effectively. Add to this all the extra-credit courses, workshops, and lectures. Now you would wonder why this would be of interest to any sane person, given the more than adequately “rigorous work culture”. However, it does make sense. These provide a wonderful opportunity to explore areas of law that might be of interest to you, and are not a part of the mainstream curriculum – like space law, or media law, or gender and sexuality law. The opportunity and exposure to such courses and interaction with people in different fields go a long way in broadening perceptions and horizons. The most commendable feature of the environment of the classroom, and outside, is that students are encouraged to argue.
Infrastructure at NLS Bangalore
The small, well-knit campus of the National Law School, although adequate, is frankly, not much to boast about. The classrooms are equipped with the necessary paraphernalia, which are largely functional. The library is actually pretty cool. There are also limited sports facilities for basketball, football, tennis and the occasional hockey, throwball and table tennis.
Life in the hostels of the Law School, however, is not for the faint hearted. Ensconced in the forested parts in the suburbs of Bangalore, it is has a more than generous share of ‘wildlife’. These include close encounters with frogs, snails, chameleons, snakes and scorpions on a regular basis. And dogs. The ‘home away from home’ makes your realize all the luxuries you took for granted before coming here – clean laundry, hot water, clean bathrooms, functional showers, clean dishes and cutlery and edible food. You learn to adjust to sharing space with frogs in the shower stalls, and running out of water in the middle of a shower, or maybe even an occasional flooding or minor electrical shocks due to faulty earthing facilities.
Things have improved over the years, though. The wi-fi facility is available in the hostels, and food related woes are addressed to a great extent by the small stalls in the campus; the most integral being ‘Chetta’ for the necessary midnight snacks and caffeine boosts.
College environment of NLS Bangalore
At the end of the five years, it is the experience of having lived at breathed at the Law School that you look back and take forward. If you find yourself at a complete loss, give it some time, and things will fall in place. As I have assured panicky newbies, the seniors in the college are actually (by and large) supportive and approachable. In fact, before examinations, seniors even take time out to help you figure out the syllabus and solve previous question papers. Then there is a wide variety of extra-curricular activities that you could explore – be it mooting, or parliamentary debate, or singing or sport.
Engage yourself in what is happening around you. You could try volunteering for events like moots, debates and at Legala or Spiritus. Strawberry Fields, is, of course, (for the want of a better description, I take recourse to this expression) legendary. And don’t forget to take some time out and unwind – at Chetta, or outside the mess over a lazy afternoon tea/juice, in Nagarbhavi, or even outside the library.
Recruitment at NLS Bangalore
I kept this for the last. The answer is yes, everybody who is looking for the job will probably get one. And let’s not fool ourselves. A lot of the hype responsible for this recent surge of law aspirants is the promise of the large pay packet that lies at the end of the five years.
However, a high paying law firm/company job is not the destiny of all the students. It could be if you choose so, but it could also be litigation, or a judicial clerkship, or pursuing further studies, or joining NGOs. Being in National Law School affords you the opportunity to explore your options.