India has been historically associated with quality legal education from ancient times. Called the land of Dharma, the Vedic education system gave a lot of attention to the legal aspect of governance. There were specific rules and regulations which bounded the society and breaking them attracted punishment after due trials and tribulations. However the history is devoid of any form of formal education in law and judges were not appointed due to their qualifications but on the basis of their reputation and righteousness. Comparing it with today’s legal education system, one thing which is profoundly common is the morality of right and wrong. Based on this concept of ethical and moral righteousness the law and the lawmakers decide on the gravity of crime and its punishment.
Current Scenario of Legal Education
The present legal education system is a gift of the British rule in India. The first constructive step towards imparting formal legal education in India was taken in 1857 when three universities set up in the Madras, Bombay and Calcutta introduced courses in Law. As law and order acquired the status of the fundamental pillar of effective governance in the country, more colleges were established that offered even more emphatic courses in law. With independence, India became the world’s largest democracy and the judicial system gained much more prominence, at times having an upper hand over legislature and executive. In fact the judiciary has time and again played a vital role in strengthening the democratic values by intervening at crucial junctures when the legislature and executive failed to perform their duties responsibly.
With great power comes great responsibility and to handle such responsibility it requires a learned individual equipped with the right kind of knowledge. Therefore it is up to the law schools to properly train students in the nuts and bolts of legal education so that they grow up to be a better judge and are able to dispense justice in their future career.
Courses and Degrees
The current legal educational system offers the following degrees to any aspirant who wants a career in law:
- Bachelor of Law (LL.B): This is a three-year duration course offered to undergraduates. The course curriculum is pretty standard across all universities and covers a varied number of topics ranging from the Indian Constitution to Hindu Family Law and IPC. The curriculum is uniformly spread over six semesters, with each semester followed by a qualifying exam for the new semester.
- Master of Law (LL.M.): It is a two-year duration postgraduate degree. Eligibility includes a Bachelors degree in law.
- Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D): For those who want to become research scholar on Indian Law
- Integrated Undergraduate degrees: Autonomous law schools offer integrated undergraduate degrees such as B.A LL.B, BSc. LL.B, BBA.LL.B, B.Com LL.B, which are of five-year duration normally.
Eligibility and Admission Procedure
The eligibility to all the legal courses requires completion of undergraduate course in any discipline. Integrated courses of five years are an exception, which can be pursued right after passing the intermediate exams. Most of the LLB Colleges in India take into consideration the scorecard of Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) a centralised test conducted by National Law Universities. However, there are other institutes like the National Law University, Delhi and some private colleges which conduct their own tests for admission.