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

It’s really not a big deal

What is the advantage of NLU students over Non-NLU students? How can you replicate these for yourselves?

Why should we talk about NLU students or hold them up as benchmarks?

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Supposedly, the National Law Universities are islands of excellence amid a sea of mediocrity, to quote our ex-PM, Manmohan Singh.

Unfortunately, if you do not keep evolving, even what is amazing today will become obsolete tomorrow. NLUs have severely failed to keep the revolution of excellence going. However, we cannot deny that the early NLUs, such as NLS Bangalore, NUJS Kolkata, NALSAR Hyderabad, NLU Jodhpur etc indeed set a new benchmark in legal education in their early years.

These institutions were once upon a time led by visionary law professors and leaders like Madhav Menon, NL Mitra, and MP Singh. Currently, they are mostly led by mediocre VCs with very little vision and drive. Even the students have become complacent and these institutions have been displaying, what is called in Economics, “rent-seeking behavior”.

So we can say that the institutions of excellence are under threat of being engulfed by the mediocrity that surrounded it.
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Still, law students who attend top National Law Universities have the undeniable edge over most other law students. It is hard to say that all of the NLUs are able to ensure such advantage, since dozens of new ones have opened up in new years, increasing the number of seats although the quality of education at many of them remain questionable. Hence, please focus on the word “top”. We are talking about the top 6 NLUs only over here.

Why should you care about what are the advantages of NLU students?

There is no denying that the wave of NLUs has been the most powerful phenomenon and a big leap in the history of legal education in India. NLUs introduced the previously unheard level of infrastructure, ambition, global perspective, outreach, glamour and of course, recruitment.

There is certainly an advantage in attending a top National Law University.

The proof of the pudding is in CLAT. Despite being a badly managed exam so far, tons of people take it. Exam takers are spending lakhs on coaching and books to crack CLAT. It’s quickly becoming like IIT JEE and CAT. Highly competitive.

But what are these advantages? Can these be replicated by those who do not go to an NLU but some other law college in a small town perhaps?

I bet one can. I went to a top NLU myself, and I have trained thousands of NLU, as well as non-NLU graduates and, have helped them to achieve their career goals through and I have visited almost every NLU (not the very new ones), interacted with students, teachers, and recruiters, and have traveled to at least 50 other law college campuses that do not have NLU tag.

I am telling you that any law student can learn from the NLU model, apply certain principles to their lives, and walk on a path of becoming an extraordinary lawyer. And NLU students also need to pay heed and focus on what really made NLUs special and work on the same principles, failing which they will be in for a very rude shock, before or after recruitment. The shock for NLU students is certain if one does not work on becoming a good lawyer, the only thing that is uncertain is at which point one gets it.

I got that shock too once I started working at a law firm. More about that later.

This is not only relevant for law students. Young graduates as well as practicing lawyers with considerable experiences can also benefit from the same model and culture, and build on what they already have.

It is for all of us who want to become extraordinary lawyers. So read on.

What are the top NLUs?

NLSIU Bangalore, NALSAR Hyderabad, NUJS Kolkata, NLU Jodhpur, NLU Delhi. Many people who went to other colleges will perhaps abuse me for not including them in this list, but most law firm partners I spoke to thought that these NLUs are the top ones, followed closely by NLIU Bhopal, GNLU Gandhinagar, HNLU Raipur and perhaps Jindal Global Law School (although it’s not at NLU). Some law firms may prefer institutions like GLC Mumbai, Symbiosis Pune or ILS Pune over rest of the law schools.

The trump card: recruitment

All sins are forgiven as long as campus recruitments are happening and people are getting jobs.

Surely, recruitments are still happening. Where would the recruiters go in any case? They have to hire fresh talent every year no matter what, especially since so many of their business models depend on finding talented but cheaper employees to leverage highly paid partners!

Also, where you hire from is a signal to the wider market as well. This started in the USA. If you hire only from Harvard then supposedly you are a very exclusive firm and clients consider you to be top notch. You would see this play out in the famous TV series “Suits”.

Big Indian law firms have definitely emulated this. They also take pride in the fact that they hire from top law schools, and batch toppers.

Still, recruiters have also started to find better sources of recruitment. One is long term internships. Students who intern for a long time with a law firm have higher chances of bagging a job at that law firm.

They are also hiring from alternative training programs like that of LawSikho or simply opting for more experienced lawyers rather than hiring fresh law graduates. This is what the law departments of companies have been anyway doing. It should greatly concern law students if law firms also turn to the same.

This would leave the law graduates to fend for themselves at the beginning of the career and learn things on their own. In this phase, they would earn very minimal sums.

Oh, isn’t that what is happening to the vast majority of law students anyway? Except for 5-6 NLUs, this is the fate of almost all law students.

There is no doubt that the legal profession holds promises of great riches, much power and a very successful career. However, between law school and such a successful career, there is a chasm. You need to cross that chasm to succeed.

Law graduates from the top NLUs may find that they have been given a raft to cross the chasm. However, it is uphill even after that for everyone.

So let’s take a look at what makes a good student from a top NLU a more desirable candidate than most of the others.

Ambition, confidence, and competition

Graduates from top NLUs grow up in a very ambitious environment. People are highly competitive and live in a close-knit community within a small campus, and the competition extends to the point of backbiting and sabotaging others at times in order to get what one wants.

Also, people pay a lot of fees, on an average 2-3 lakhs per year. Which makes it mandatory for them to get a job that will justify such expenditure.

Expectations of parents at home is also high because these students got into top law schools.

This helps the students. As their expectations from themselves is very high, they go out of their way to achieve the things they are supposed to achieve – internships, jobs, moots and a few such other things.

Ambition and confidence, fuelled by a competitive environment, does wonder for students of top NLUs.

Imagine, if you realize that half of your batch has confirmed internships in the month of October for the next summer break, can you sit quietly?

Would you not also start taking some action?

If your friends are going to intern at amazing places like the United Nations, Competition Commission or London law firms, will you not also want to do something kick ass?

There are guys in your class who are amazing bloggers or YouTubers. Some are already earning money by giving CLAT tuitions. Won’t you feel a pang that perhaps you are not doing enough?

If your best friend or the boy you fancy is winning moots, would you be content with sitting on your ass? Probably not.

That’s happening every day in top NLUs, fuelling a cycle of ambition and a great competitive environment that jolts people out of their inertia.

Compared to that, a student of a typical law school worries only about exams and marks. They support and comfort each other in their lack of actions, saying oh there is a lot of time, we are going to figure this out later!


One of the biggest advantages of top law schools is the exposure you get.

Ram Jethmalani taught evidence law for a few semesters at NLS Bangalore. He talked about his experience of the Indira Gandhi murder trial. How amazing is that?

When you get exposed to top-notch quality in your formative years, that tend to set very high standards.

I recently visited Law College, Dehradun to deliver a keynote. I realized that the college has been inviting various lawyers every single day! Retired judges, Supreme Court lawyers, law firm partners – they have a guest or two almost every day coming in and interacting with students.

Of course, this is not an NLU, but forget that for a moment and contemplate the power of this approach. The students are being exposed to some amazing lawyers every single day. The quality standards and ideas they imbibe from such experience is invaluable.

This is a very powerful strategy and this is exactly what the early NLUs did in their beginning. Some of them still do it.

It is not only exposure to good lawyers inside the campus. When Madhav Menon founded NUJS, he made Wednesday holiday rather than Sunday, so that students could visit courts on Wednesdays and get exposure to that world. NUJS students used to visit the chambers of best lawyers and even judges and learn from that exposure.

Of course, later NUJS teachers and students wanted to stop that, so it got stopped! Now NUJS has Sunday as weekly holiday.

Similarly, classes were earlier finished off by 1 pm mandatorily, so that students could go and intern in the evening with law firms and lawyers. This practice paid rich dividends back then. I am shocked to see that most law schools do not allow their students to go for rolling internships, limiting their growth and curbing career opportunities.

Even I benefited from this opportunity to get early and regular exposure to the legal world. I could even go and learn foreign languages, martial arts, teach for law entrance, ghostwrite books, build a legal risk management consultancy while in college and what not – all of which would never be possible if I had classes till 5-6 pm every day.

I am shocked to learn that a lot of colleges force their students to sit in class for 8 hours a day!

NLUs would not be the brand that they are today if the original founders were so short-sighted.

Exposure is at the heart of the idea of NLUs.

Another way we got exposure was our summer, winter and other internships. We would go to cities like Mumbai, Delhi and do interesting internships. Our VC MP Singh used to give us internship holidays in such a way that all other colleges would be open at that time so that we had to face minimal competition for the internship. The month of March, August, September were prime targets because most universities used to have an exam during those times, so we got the internships easily.

Do you go to such great lengths in order to get amazing exposure that can change your life?

We also got exposure to some amazing teachers. They had very high academic and intellectual standards. We were forced to raise the bar to match theirs.

That is what made us desirable by employers when we graduated.

You need to think, what do you need to expose yourself to? What will raise your standards?

It’s a question that every individual and organization has to repeatedly ask themselves and others around them because not doing so means stagnation and slow march to irrelevance and mediocrity.

Institutional memory

How does NLSIU Bangalore produce a Rhodes Scholar almost every year? Why don’t NALSAR and NUJS produce as many?

The answer lies in institutional memory.

You will be remiss if you think NLSIU’s success depends on amazing academics or superior standards in general.

NUJS students get more jobs than NLS these days from top 6 law firms.

There was a time when most foreign law firm jobs were bagged by NLS students alone. Then slowly NUJS and NALSAR broke in. Even NLUJ, NLUD, and JGLS have begun to get some initial traction on this front. NLS monopoly on this front is all but broken now.

But with the Rhodes Scholarship, it is a different story.

Here is my hypotheses about this. NLS has a better institutional memory of how to get the Rhodes. Some students plan for it right from their 1st or 2nd year. It is a matter of great prestige to be that person, and it is alive in the environment of NLS.

It is not as much present in the atmosphere of NUJS or NALSAR or NLIU. So most people wake up in their 4th or 5th year and just apply. They do not prepare as much.

There are some exceptions of course.

But the institutional memory and the culture of NLS is more suitable for pushing Rhodes to your list of priorities.

There are many other such cultures at NLSIU that sets it apart from every other law school. One good example is the cohesiveness of the NLSIU alumni community. They have practices where seniors are formally appointed as informal guardian/mentor etc for juniors. For example, you are automatically responsible for a person from the next batch who has the same roll number as yours. Let’s say your roll number is 5, then roll no 5 of next batch is your “batch baby”. Roll no 5 of next batch is grandkid.

These people hang out in groups, help each other and have each other backs throughout law school.

There are hostel babies also, basically juniors who live in the same room as you did last year and so on. I believe that such creative campus practices have led to better alum cohesiveness compared to other law schools.

There was a time when NUJS was unbeatable in arbitration moots. It was because seniors would teach and mentor juniors on how to win such a moot. Compare this with a college which has no seniors to guide you on Rhodes, moots or where seniors are too self-absorbed and self-important to help their juniors.

At NUJS, one after another startups were produced when I was in college because we all learned something from each other.

There are other factors too. I will tell you more about these factors like recruitment driven campus culture, focus on internships, deliberate branding, strong student bodies, events and recruitment committees run by students in the next mail.

For today, let me leave you with another interesting idea.

How can you implement these elements in your life?

Here is what we have been doing at to emulate these factors and give an amazing advantage to our students.

Focus on recruitment and client service

Our courses are built for getting the job done, and our graduates have a massive advantage when it comes to getting hired. They are miles ahead of most of their peers, and it becomes evident from their CV as well as interviews.

Can you serve a client after doing a chapter related to that kind of work? If not, then our chapter will have to be rewritten. Maybe the course has to be replanned. We won’t have it any other way. Just look at the weekly exercises or syllabus on any course page, and you will understand what I am talking about.

We give networking exercises to our students. We make them write articles and publish. We send them on informational interviews. Everything is done to ensure that they become better lawyers and learn how to demonstrate it. It works wonders for them!

Focus on internship

Only 20-30% of our learners are law students, and the vast majority are lawyers. However, we help these students as well as young lawyers to get jobs at good law firms. How do we go about it?

We ask lawyers and law firms to give our students (only recommended ones, who we find to be ready for such opportunity) an assessment internship. Because our previous students have surprised them, recruiters are happy to oblige. From there, bagging a job is easy because our students are miles ahead of what these recruiters expect and its visible during the internship.

Law schools have set very low standards in this front, and we absolutely exploit that. Want names and numbers? Email us or search iPleaders blog. We have dozens of success stories like that from the last few months itself.

Focus on exposure

We expose our learners to realistic work that they will get when clients come to them. We expose them to lawyers who are already where these learners want to be, as trainers, coaches, and evaluators.

We push our learners’ standards upwards. And they see a total transformation by the time they finish the course.

Institutional Memory

We let our alumni and students mingle on WhatsApp groups. At times, we have meetups in cities! We let them argue, discuss, teach each other on our learning management system, live classes, and other platforms.

And we also build institutional memory through content, videos, lessons. That’s why we have to update our courses almost every month with new strategies, new tutorials, and exercises.

We have a long way to go, but we are the future.

And we are already pretty damn good. Results speak. Check out on the website itself.

Here are the courses that are open for enrollment right now:


Executive Certificate Course 


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