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The article is written by Aayush Akar and Vivek Raj.

“The study of laws, on condition they are good laws, is unrivalled in its ability to improve students.”

 – Plato

Legal Education in India

Law, legal training and developmental legal fraternity are becoming interwoven frameworks in contemporary society that seek to embed social security into some kind of pluralistic structure and seek to improve citizen’s political-economic status through democratic means. Hence it is an object that performs a significant role in accomplishing the broader aim of accountability, freedom, fairness and brotherhood of a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. In a third world country such as India, attorneys with a political outlook thus act as being the most important element of legal training. Nevertheless, professional research has not been limited exclusively to the advancement of practitioners in recent times. Infect its reach and scale, generating influence in all fields of mankind has grown. Legislation as a method of social control thus fits the criteria of social architecture as an essential matter. Dada Dharmadhikari has rightly said that the legal education makes lawyer a pleader who pleads for public at large likewise doctor who prescribes for all, the priest who preach for all and like the economist who plan for all. The primary goal of legal education is to:

  • Provide a juncture where legal scholars can show bid their in-depth understanding of the law;
  • Explore the grey areas with the ongoing dimension of the society for making a law or where the law is needed;
  • Active participation of the young professionals into the growth, evolution and improvement of legal rules;
  • Inculcate learned law graduates with the in-depth grip of law which includes both substantive and procedural; and
  • Enhances graduate learners with intricate knowledge of the judicial system of the nation’s colonial and sociocultural context.

Legal education thus is fundamentally a multidisciplinary, multifunctional discipline capable of developing the requisite human resources and idealism to improve the legal system. A lawyer, a result of such an education will render a far more positive approach than it has ever been.

Background of Legal Education in India

Regulation Act of 1772 was the first act to recognize the legal profession in India. Legal profession had first been known in India by Regulation Act 1772. The amount of the charge to be incurred by Vakils ultimately in Bengal Regulation-VII of 1793. Further along, with such further amendments in 1853 and 1879 the Legal Practitioners Amendment Act of 1846 revised the amendment to refer to both Vakils and Barristers. The Bar Council Act passed later in 1926 by the British Government to consolidate the Bar in India to grant the High Court and the State Bar Councils considerable flexibility in making significant laws concerning the entry and performance of the lawyers serving in the courts. In 1868 Anjuman I-Punjab actually began his 1st proper legal schooling and in 1870 was later became as the Punjab University. But then few law schools began to open later in the post-independence period.

What are National Law Universities?

In India, Autonomous Law Schools identified as National Law Schools (NLU) or National Law Schools (NLS) are law colleges established in line with the second-generation legal education reform proposal of the Indian Bar Council. The NLUs are government-established public institutions and governed by the Indian Bar Assembly and the Indian Ministry of Law and Justice. The first of its kind National Law University was the Bangalore National Law School, which had enrolled its first intake in 1987. Since then almost every state has set up a National Law Universities. Such universities were seen as pace-setters, as brands for improving the legal education field in general. Till now, 23 national law universities in India have been established that are seen as ‘IITs of Law’ and offer competitive-end research packages with international fame.
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History of the National Law Universities?

With the implementation of the Advocates Act of 1961 was largely intended to ensure national autonomy for legal luminaries, it also allowed the BCI to involve in the administrative part in the legal area. It represented a deviation from practices throughout British domination when formal legal education was administered under the regulatory mandate of larger government universities. The active participation of the Bar Councils was aimed at ensuring that the institutions gained positive feedback by lawyers on the layout and quality of legal education.

There is a belief that post-independence legal education was appropriate for India to progress according to trends in other places around the world. Manuscripts from the mid-50s to mid-60s clearly outlined issues about the lack of quality and the accessibility of legal education in general. It has been noticed, rather than incentivising rational thinking on the formation of the law in a rapidly developing postcolonial framework, but the syllabus favoured standardized testing and memorialisation of legal material. Even well-known law schools focused mainly on part-time teachers and courses. The majority of law students whose schools are located on the outskirts of the dense urban hubs made it impossible to soak up materials primarily in English. The lack of full-time professors and the insufficient resources led to a situation in which these universities found it impossible to perform and conduct proper research that expanded the limits of legal studies.

It was in this background that initiatives by funding institutions such as the Ford Foundation were pivotal in setting up the Indian Law Institute (ILI) in 1956, preceded by coursework reform tasks at various central universities in the early 1960s. Various foreign researchers have been introduced as visiting faculty and have been involved in efforts to improve teaching methods, the reliability of reading techniques and materials for evaluating student performance.

Whilst the Indian Law Institute (ILI) has been set up to conduct rigorous research on legal research, the above-mentioned education reform initiatives have proven to be important in facilitating a change from a two-year Bachelor of Laws (B.L.) to a three-year degree (LL.B.). During this stage, Professor P.K. Tripathi, who would then serve as Dean of the Faculty of Law, Delhi University, played a starring role.

A report of 1964 presented by a panel led by Judge P.B. Gajendragadkar referred to the proposal of the NLU in India. This panel was set up by the University of Delhi to study the institution’s curriculum and provision of legal education. In addition to making good recommendations for coursework changes, this panel alluded of the requirement for a law school that might act as an experimental research platform. In the next two decades, this idea took root in bits and pieces. Three-four models were desired in this way during the 1972 international Indian Legal Education Seminar in Pune. A proposal submitted to the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 1979 also mirrored this idea. This study, which had been carried out by Professor Upendra Baxi, summarized the discussions of various workshops and sessions which looked into teaching techniques, coursework material and the management of these law schools.

The need for such a model university with a national identity has also been outlined in light of questions about the growing provincialization of State Universities, where staff and undergraduate representation were primarily selected from the respective states. Such background factors have made it impossible for professors, scholars and graduates to focus on municipal and foreign legal disputes, both of which are unquestionably relevant to a post-colonial environment. The current pressures on personnel selection and course outline that prevailed inside larger public universities were also considerably dissatisfied. To order for single professors, for instance, to modify the program in a particular subject, they may need authorization from several officials in a higher education system. This institutional restriction hindered the coursework from keeping pace with newly published scholarships, practical advances and innovations from a qualitative and global viewpoint. The assessment of student learning was primarily carried out via yearly evaluations coordinated by larger government Universities, most of which had hundreds of legal schools associated with them.

At around this stage, a number of steps were taken by the BCI in planning for the establishment of an NLU in India. At the beginning of the 1980s, the three-year LL.B was offered by many other Indian universities for delivering the formal legal education program. Upon completing an undergrad degree in any field, applicants can enter this program. Whether you seek to gain specialist knowledge or to seek academic careers in research and innovation, you may take advanced programs like LL.M., M. Phil. and doctorate. Previously, many people were viewed to have enrolled in the LL.B. Many candidates landed up with this curriculum as they were unable to pursue other higher education streams others have taken legal studies to obtain knowledge about the subject and frameworks that can help coordinate existing companies or running new ones. A lot of law students in the area of law spend most of their energy in preparedness for civil service exams or acquiring qualifications that would allow their careers to progress in existing public jobs.

In fact, the impact of student organizations associated with major political organizations was reflected in law faculty at larger traditional schools, whereby student groups frequently hindered institutional regular operations. Keeping this in view, the envisaged National Law School was designed to provide some distinguishing characteristics. The creation will seek to establish a national identity. To allow substantive and successful doctrine, an institution would have a privilege which would grant it tremendous discretion in aspects including teachers and staff hiring and the layout and periodic monitoring of the core curriculum. The aim would be to hire instructors in fulltime that would allocate adequate time and energy to instruction in school and even their own learning interests. Rather than having to admit graduates to a three-year LL.B., students would be given admission to the 5-year law school without obtaining under graduation degree. The aim has been to require students to take a fair nationwide test in order to entice students who voluntarily chose the detailed study of law. The college would have a holistic atmosphere to guarantee an inclusive academic background.

Such attributes also led to the formation of the National Law School of Indian University (NLSIU) in Bengaluru that was approved by the Karnataka Government in January 1986. Whilst the Chief Justice of India (CJI) was appointed as the Visitor of the Institute, the government bodies were embodied from the Court, the Bench, the Government of the State and the Academy. Prof. N.R. Madhava Menon was chosen as the Dean whereby he initiated the procedures of recruiting staff and preparing curriculum. Classes for the academic program began with a small proportion of professors at a provisional location in July 1988. The university commenced functioning in 1992 into its current site on the suburbs of Bangalore. It has been possible to run it via financial support, for example from the Karnataka Administration, the Indian Bar Council (BCI), and the Ford Foundation. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has facilitated future changes to the college and accommodation infrastructure. Infosys funded the establishment of a distinct library complex (finished in 2005), and an arena for sports (completed in 2013) was underpinned by grants of the alumni (Class of 1996).

NLSIU Bangalore has now grown in certain areas as a strong institution of higher learning. It has always drawn talented students who will pursue a rigorous undergrad degree. Graduate students will apply for different career prospects directly and graduates have gained an image for expertise in various fields, such as the legal profession, transactional training, higher learning, civil services and international organisations. NLSIU was defined within several years as a major research university, with many schools founded during the last two decades with a similar premise. Many of these universities admit students via the extremely competitive Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) that began in 2008 after a regulatory decision to under-graduate and postgraduate research programmes. The main aim behind advent was to decrease the transaction fees accrued by candidates to receive an entry to the different national law universities (NLUs) which were founded at such a point of time through carrying out several admission tests on various locations. Now to create similar institutions in the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, and Uttarakhand planned by the respective state governments.

This dimensional change due to CLAT examination was the revolution in the legal education of the country and the students after 2008 choosing as a career are witness to it and thereafter. It has resulted in better facilities and enhanced corporate engagement and development in legal training. Such as the University of Jindal at Sonipat, and the University of Symbiosis at Pune, that are already creating the unique niche in India for themselves. A student who intends to go for a professional law course following his 12th class will go either via NLUs, private universities or conventional schools such as BHU, AMU and many others, can thus have many choices.

Problems faced by National Law Schools

PM Manmohan Singh outlined legal education in India as an ocean of institutionalized mediocrity. Law schooling has always been viewed step-motherly by the state but has also never been the main preference of talented students and their ever-aspiring family. The most substantial change in Indian legal education throughout the past two decades began, however, with the emergence of NLU. Such NLUs, also defined as legal education IITs and IIMs were established to become centres of specialization in law degree by recruiting high-quality law students and delivering elevated-quality research and legal scientific research by professors.

It was crewed for the first time via India University’s National Law School (NLSIU), Bangalore, a university established through state legislation, but allegedly of like a national character. The absolute flexibility of the institution’s position, a rigorous process filter on the LSAT line and a good supercilious staff confirmed that quality and prestige were achieved in no period. The institution was respected for its utter independence. But what caused its rapid rise in terms of public opinion was the integration of its young graduates into highly paid white-collar jobs at law firms which proliferated exponentially in a freshly capitalistic India. There are 23 NLUs in India which are not providing standard legal training in the nation.

The system, although with appropriate revivals, was instinctively emulated in several other states. Thus NLU Jodhpur went further than a Standard Integrated Degree in Social Science and Law (BA LLB) by providing alternatives in the form of a science & law graduate (BSc LLB) and even a degree in management and law (BBA LLB), thus maintaining its national identity and foreseeing state-oriented quotas (domiciliary reservations). Sadly, these “Heidelands of Excellence,” especially low-income graduates and rural India, experience a serious underrepresentation. Multiple factors, namely contemporary incredibly costly legal training, the unfortunate loss of legal knowledge as a viable career for minimum-income graduates, and the stringent entry test (CLAT), undoubtedly contributed in this way. The trend is that the existing demographic of graduates at several of the prominent NLU lacks substantive diversity, primarily composed of graduates from upper-middle-class working-class families. There are abhorrently tiny numbers from minimal-income families and communities of India like the northeast.

Some NLUs provide up to 50 per cent of their total intake in domicile limits. The controversy started when the Government of West Bengal amended the National University of Judicial Act to propose 50% state reservation in law school. The students protested against the State Government Act and said it would destroy the diversity of the law school. Similarly, National Law Universities at New Delhi and Odisha introduced 50 and 25% reservation respectively. An overwhelming majority of emerging NLU graduates have enrolled in standard English schools, i.e., whereby English is the primary mode of training. Just 2–3% of students attended vernacular institutions before being admitted to the NLU. This shows that vernacular languages have no importance in these premier law schools. The emergence of these new NLUs in various states is not having the proper infrastructure and medical facilities, faculties and even having just a temporary campus.

The latest outbreak of persistent mismanagement at National Law University in Odisha, NLUO where excessive increased fees, absence of a library, and the ruined existence of the hostel once again reveals the nation’s misery. Simile protests were also made against a lack of adequate facilities, nutrition and services at Himachal Pradesh National Law University (HPNLU). The complaint about the level of disorder is simply a result of the triste situation in NLU, where graduates are being unfairly halted for their demonstrations not only robbed of basic essentials. NLUs have been set up to change the role of law training in India as one-disciplined state colleges. Over the last few years, moreover, NLUs have struggled to maintain their daily affairs efficiently. NLUs, that are the state universities (as designated by the UGC) as formed by the State Act), suffer a lack of resources. We live on small funds that the governments of the respective states do not have enough to support them. Moreover, NLUs do not regularly receive UGC funding as they must collect funds for the management of business autonomously. The poor investment in such institutions thus created multiple issues.

Need for nationalization of National Law Universities

The Bill is aimed at harmonizing the operation of NLUs in the form of a single central statute, incorporating all respective state statutes. It is proposed, more importantly, that those higher education institutions should be given the status of ‘national institutions’ and centrally financed to carry out functions effectively. The bill stipulates that the Registrar would not be underneath the professor’s level and that there should be ahead for each department at the university. It also calls for the creation of a National Council, led by the Minister of Law of the Union.

Shrimati Meenakshi Lekhi introduced a private member bill in December 2019 for the nationalization of National Law Universities. After the 2017 NUSRL Ranchi agitation, a collective representation calling for national institutions of national importance in national law universities was convened by NLS Student Bar, NALSAR Student Bar Council and Student Juridical Association of NUJS. Subsequently, to reflect the advent of the ‘November Revolution’ at NLIU Bhopal, the student bodies asked for the nationalization of NLUs.

The graduate of DSNLU Vizag named Debadutta Bose drafted draft legislation that recommends the NLUs for the position of the Institute of National Importance (INI), with the aim of centrally financing as well as supervising NLUs. The bill was proposed in 2016 in the Lok Sabha by Jadhavpur Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Sugata Bose, a graduate research coordinator at Harvard University. The review and discourse in the legislative cycle are currently reviewing. The features of the bill are:

  • The NLSs will also be declared as “Institutes of National Importance”.
  • To order for all to provide the same purposes, resources, and duties, the parliament shall adopt a common statute.
  • No seat reservations by default, but the order of the state whereby the NLU is set shall be granted up to the maximum limit of 50%. 
  • The Chief Justice of India will become the NLUs “visitor” as well as the Chief Justice of the corresponding High Courts will be in charge of inspection, as the NLU “chancellor”.
  • In matters concerning CLAT, inter-NLU conflicts, annual estimates and fund distribution, a “National Council” will also have control and the role of supervision over all NLSs.
  • Without hindering the jurisdiction of the BCI to administer legal training, the Union Ministry of Law will be chaired the National Council on an ex-officio basis.
  • All current jurisdictions must be similar, i.e. the Institutes are managed by the state government. These officials and university supervisors are now widely adopted for NLUs. The ad hoc workplace conflict resolution panel has also been established.
  • To order to ensure accountability in the functioning of the NLUs, the Bill includes for the much required central and state support, creation of separate accounts and the scrutiny of the NLU’s accounts by the CAG. 
  • The legislation abolishes all existing regulations in the case of operation. Post-NLUs may be formed or withdrawn by modifying the timeframe.

Even there is reportedly no ongoing initiative by [Law & Justice] Ministry to constitute in each State / UT a National Law Schools, nationalize national law schools (NLUs) and include all national law Universities in a category of national institutions of importance “(INI).


Legal education plays a crucial role in creating a rule that protects the culture. Schools of law will support social innovation. Indian society faces severe problems with the application of the law attributable to unprecedented pause in the implementation of legal system Management Catastrophes and Widespread poverty. Legal education plays a crucial role in creating a rule that protects the culture. Schools of law will support social innovation. Indian society faces severe problems with the application of the law attributable to unprecedented pause in the implementation of legal system Management Catastrophes and Widespread poverty. Most NLUs have been unable to recruit and retain NLU alumni to instruct, leaving aside a few exceptions of course.

The National Law Universities will step forth to provide professors with professional training and education both in kinaesthetic learning and critical thinking skills. Experiments by college academic staff may not result in good findings. Legal scholarship from the field should also be promoted by the use of both academic and judicial-centric experience in legal training. Student performance and ongoing appraisal should be from the part of the grading system and ranking. The colleges should design the legal program keeping in mind the fast-moving advancements in Technology and Science, Corporate Accounting Strategy, and the Alternate Conflict Recourse Framework.

In the development and adoption of the new curriculum, law faculties throughout institutions will play a crucial role. Modern colleges will step in to rejuvenate the technical training curriculum and adopt the professional law system and track the execution of these initiatives efficiently by providing accountability for successful class attendance. The NLUs have been positioned underneath the Ministry of Law but not under the Ministry of Higher Education and that is a leading cause of their negligence. The management of the NLUs becomes a secondary priority for the law ministry.

In order to ameliorate the standard of legal training in the country, the NLUs which were meant to be torchbearers are vying to their own life. Many of these so-called key establishments struggle to attain the target that was set for. In the past, requests were made to confer the prestige of the Institute of National Importance (INI) to the NLUs, which could help resolve the financial squeeze problem as the INIs receive donations specifically from the central administration underneath the budget for education of the Ministry of Human Resources Development. Hence, the nationalisation of these institutions is the high requirements for their sustainability in the long run. 

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