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Dear Aspiring Lawyer, CLAT Doesn’t Deserve A Second Chance From You

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Dear CLAT victim of 2018 and aspiring lawyer,

Supreme Court has rejected the option of re-test.

You must be disappointed.

Or maybe due to the long duration of uncertainty, apathy and helplessness, you might have now accepted the result as your fate and moved on with your life. The same way a litigant does. You, henceforth, get the first lesson of your legal career. Ironically.

Let me tell you one thing that might soothe you: CLAT doesn’t deserve a second attempt.

CLAT, with every passing year, is becoming more of a common law admission tyranny and the term CLAT applicant has become synonymous with CLAT victim.

Like all years, there’s been hue and cry for justice and a PIL. And like all past years, justice wasn’t served. The committee has come up with a complex ‘compensatory’ formula that only God knows how will it compensate for students losing marks due to crippling ill-management and sudden blackouts of screens for ‘n’ number of minutes (n being a variable).

But all those aspiring lawyers, who have a genuine interest in law, who want to bring justice society, or just want to be a breadwinner for their family by getting a corporate job, who are disappointed or depressed with the systematic exploitation by CLAT, here’s a feel-good tip for you: CLAT DOESN’T DESERVE A SECOND ATTEMPT. NLUs are overrated and given the rotational screwed up system of conducting CLAT by every university for serving its ego, getting into an NLU would not really be an amazing achievement in your long legal career.

I am a law student, a 2015 victim of CLAT (though ‘fortunate’ enough to land in an NLU), and will argue my case on three points:

1. CLAT is not a credible test of taking the best minds of the nation
2. NLUs are overrated
3. Professionals are realising the falling standards of CLAT and NLUs

Submission 1

The consistency with which colleges screw up CLAT is phenomenal. So phenomenal that everybody who is in touch with it, the student, their parents, the coaching centres, the law graduates and even the judiciary have taken it for granted. The more you check the historical record of CLAT being conducted in past years, the more you will find solace in your seniors’ suffering. When .25 marks can be so significant that it becomes a matter of life and death for the student, the authorities shamelessly make students suffer for 10-20 marks by making wrong questions, wrong answers, out of syllabus content, or non-functioning computers where screens go blank periodically in the exams. It almost a gamble to get a seat. So if you have screwed up CLAT, don’t worry you have just lost a lottery.

I think CLAT is a nice way for future lawyers to make them realise how injustice tastes in real life so they would treat their future clients with empathy.

Submission 2

You dream of learning at an NLU?

Good dream but once you get into one, you would understand the realities.

The administration has incredible autonomy over exams, hostel in-timings, backlog rules, college fests and all the things a student cares about. And unfortunately, they exercise this autonomy with even more incredible arbitrariness than the CLAT (screwed up entrance examination is only a beginning).

And after a point, there is a reaction. Students, being the law students they are, launch protests. There have been several instances of strikes in NLUs premises.

NURSL (Ranchi) students, in April 2017, launched an indefinite protest and slept on streets outside main gates for days protesting against non-fulfilment of basic requirements and inefficiency of administration. In 2014 NLUJA (Assam) 200 students submitted a 12-page memorandum ‘A Saga of Grieved Souls‘ to the administration for the poor facilities and then resorted to indefinite strike when no action was taken. NUJS’ Vice-Chancellor P. Ishwara Bhat had to resign in March 2018 due to mass protests against him for malpractices.

Technically speaking, NLUs are just state universities with a ‘national’ tag.

The Wire did a report recently on how NLUs have failed in providing quality legal education due to ‘design flaws’ inherent in the NLU structure.

NLUs are better on these counts: economic fee structure (though there have been strikes for the same in NLU Assam), ambitious crowd – though CLAT is not credible to take the best minds of the country as stated in submission 1 but there is a threshold of students in every NLU who have somehow kept the culture of legal education alive-by doing prestigious moots, research papers, organising workshops, libraries and web-resources.

Apart from strict administration, where else do they lag? Academics.

Average teachers (many just read the bare act and go away), an outdated curriculum, unaccountable evaluation system and rigid, autonomous administration. If you think they are IITs of law, think again (Exception: The top NLU-teachers don’t just read bare act there, I believe).

There are several private universities that teach law better than these ‘esteemed’ law universities which you’re supposedly dying to get into and more importantly they are more accountable which is depressingly rare in these NLUs.

Private universities are more accountable because they care about their reputation. NLUs are too cool for that.

Submission 3

Professionals understand the real world. Especially legal professionals. When the blunders of CLAT are so grave and so consistent, the reputation of the NLU tag would definitely receive a fatal blow. Litigation practitioners never really focus on your college tag but corporate firms, on whom the CLAT industry thrive upon, are also going the similar way. One Associate of a tier-II firm told me during an internship that they no more care about the NLU tag for recruitment. It is certainly an achievement to clear an entrance exam but for the above reasons, it is not going to give them the best legal minds. I could not say about top corporate firms but I believe that if the CLAT would maintain the record of failing students’ trust in the system by continuously screwing the test, NLU would be no more than just another state university, which professionals would not like to care about.

Conclusion

Hence, if you are disappointed with your CLAT marks and planning to give next year’s CLAT with more hard work, don’t. Do your own research of colleges and make your own choice.

I am not trying to console you by depreciating my institution of learning. There are certainly several advantages of learning in an NLU. But at the same time, there are some harsh realities which I believe are essential for you to know before making any decision about something as important as a career.

If you still want to write the exam again do it with full force but know to not get emotionally involved with it. Because you never know whether the next University of the rotational system is capable of conducting a fairer exam. CLAT anyway is an aptitude based exam and does not require a year to be wasted.

And an institution won’t necessarily make you a hotshot lawyer, you need to work for it.

I rest my case.

Saumitra Shrivastava,
Just another law student

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