According to the National Knowledge Commission’s “Working Group on Legal Education”, there is an immediate need to improve the quality of legal education and research throughout university law departments and colleges in the country. Achieving this should not be seen as an empty challenge but an opportunity to put legal education at par with engineering, medicine, and other ‘sought after’ professions. One can argue that since the first National Law School came up in Bangalore in 1989 things have already undergone a significant change. Over the last few decades “law” is becoming an increasingly important career choice for those fresh out of school. Hundreds of ‘CLAT coaching centres’ have mushroomed all over the nation as aspirants begin preparing well in advance to get into a NLU.
One can say, then, that in some sense the transition is complete. A palpable shift has taken place in the way legal education is now perceived. This is manifested in the now popular rhetoric of legal education becoming more about ‘choice’ rather than ‘chance’. It has been possible to do this through a sustained focus on innovating on two fronts: improving curricula as well as teaching methods. This, in turn, has been necessitated by a more intensive linkage with the world economy and the consequent expansion of the private sector. All this required legal expertise beyond traditional court room litigation
Due to rapid technological innovations new forms of life are daily coming into being, demanding newer forms of regulation (not to mention newer forms of politico-philosophical questioning). With their academic rigour and focused training National Law School graduates have begun to fit themselves well with the changing face of the economy. Requirements of the global market, simply put, have pushed to create a globally competitive knowledge-base. In this context, therefore, the continuing rise of legal education in India in the near future can be taken as an axiomatic given.
But on the other hand, it would be fair to say that there is still much to be done. The springing up of the NLUs has done nothing to change the grass-roots reality, many argue. We require the convergence of law not just with the demands of the market, but also with increasing demands for social justice.
Law, we know, is a singular discipline. By the time a student finishes his 5-year integrated course, he has - one can say - a panoramic view of all social thought. From contracts to mergers, murders to insurance premiums, ethnographic data-collection to the justice of economic policies - the law-student is expected to have a grip on the thousands of ways in which society moves and regulates itself. To study the law is to study society in all its complexity - as well as one's own place in it.
It is no surprise then that the foremost statesmen, freedom-fighters and social-reformers of antiquity - have all either emerged from, or gravitated towards, the study of Law. In this context, the purpose of a Law University cannot merely be to reproduce a particular professional class of citizens, even though this is certainly a huge part of its being. We, at TNNLS, feel that 'being a lawyer' entails much more than is conventionally understood. It signifies a profound curiosity and exuberance to understand - as well as examine - the norms which govern us.
Creating ‘lawyers’, to us, means creating citizens in the fullest sense of the word. And that is what we aspire to do here at TNNLS.