Life in an NLU: We, at CLAT Next, hear you’ve been bitten by the NLU bug? And that you’ve been preparing for the battle? of CLAT 2024 & AILET 2024 religiously? And that you’re pretty sure you’ll make it to the list this year! CONGRATULATIONS! Let us take this moment to explore the best outcome of a life in an NLU – the placements and beyond.
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Life in an NLU – Getting into one
National Law Universities, or NLUs, are the most sought-after law schools. There are now 23 NLUs in the entire nation. NLUs are recognised by the University Grants Commission and are affiliated with the Bar Council of India (BCI) (UGC). National Law Universities are single-discipline institutions that give students both combined honours and law degrees. And there are two ways in which you can ensure life in an NLU at the undergraduate level for a legal career.
- CLAT – Common Law Admission Test, or CLAT, is a centralized national level entrance test for admissions to an integrated (5 years) undergraduate degree in Law (BA LLB, BBA LLB, BSc LLB, etc) in twenty-two National Law Universities (NLU) in India. CLAT scores are also utilised by most private, like Nirma and NMIMS, and self-financed law schools in India. The test is taken after the Higher Secondary Examination or the 12th grade and is conducted by the Consortium of NLUs nationally, every year.
- AILET – All India Law Entrance Test, or AILET is the examination conducted for admission into NLU Delhi. The scores are accepted at some other colleges as well, not of particularly great significance, however.
The syllabus remains the same mostly for both examinations. There are slight alterations to the exam pattern, however.
One of the main attractions of life in an NLU and the placements offered at the end of 5 years, is the interest of a variety of recruiters in hiring law students from NLUs. The common kinds of recruiters are –
- Domestic Law Firms – The major portion of the pie chart on hirings done by a kind of recruiter belongs to the Domestic Law firm category. Entry-level hirings are made by the “big seven” of the law industry – Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM), Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM), AZB & Partners, Khaitan & Co., Trilegal, J. Sagar Associates (JSA) and Luthra & Luthra (L&L) Partners. The average salary offered by these offices ranges between 12 and 15 lakhs per annum. Offers are made by some other law firms like the S & R Associates, Talwar Thakore & Associates and Wadia & Ghandy Associate, as well.
- Public Sector Undertakings – Another top recruiters kind are the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). Though most of them accept the CLAT (PG) scores for scrutiny for the recruitment process, some are which hire the NLU students directly. Some of them are –
- Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL)
- National Mineral Development Corporation Limited (NMDCL)
- Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (RECL)
- Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL)
- Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
- Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL)
- Indian Oil Corporation (IOC Ltd.)
- National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)
- Corporate Organisations – The in-house counsel jobs are also up for grabs during the placement seasons in an NLU. Corporate organisations like Ernst & Young, Tata Sons, Tata Croma, ICICI Bank, CL Educated, Star India, Edelweiss Asset, etc appear on the “Day Zero” frequently.
- Foreign Law Firms – Another hot piece of that pie are the global career prospect providing recruiters, the overseas law firms. The best recruiters in this category are –
- Herbert Smith Freehills,
- Linklaters and
- Allen & Overy.
The process of getting hired by an overseas law firm is however longer and more technical in nature than usual. The international law firms don’t participate on the “day zero” either. (More about this in the next section.) Thus, the hirings made each year from all the NLUs combined stand within 10-12 students total.
To give you a taste of life in an NLU, let’s consider the NALSAR placements for 2021 (because of the lack of an official placement report for 2022). The 2021 graduating batch of the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR, Hyderabad) landed 72 jobs in law firms and companies across the country and one overseas.
Out of the 73 participating students –
- 28 students accepted pre-placement offers,
- 14 students accepted offers on Day Zero,
- 31 students accepted offers post Day Zero,
- One student accepted a training contract with Linklaters in London.
(Note – We’ll see what the terms – PPO, Day Zero and Day One – mean in the upcoming section of this blog.)
Further, among the law firms, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas was the biggest hirer, recruiting 8 NALSAR students. Trilegal and Khaitan & Co made 7 hires each. Organisations like ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and ITC Ltd also participated.
The Placement Cycle
The Placement Cycle in an NLU is a pretty serious affair. This happens primarily because the graduation outcome including placements and the median salary is among the key ranking parameters for a law school, especially an NLU, the tuition fees of which can be said to be on the higher side. These are the only parameters which help aspirants decide on the “Return on Investment” on the college fees.
Hence, the placement cycle begins from the fourth year itself. Let’s get a taste of the life in an NLU by knowing more about the placement cycle –
- Assessment Internship & Pre-placement Offers (PPO) – The first among the placed students from the batch belong to this cohort. The students in the 4th-year start applying for assessment internships to join a place as per their work ethics and which suit their interest. If the workplace likes them back, a PPO or a Pre-Placement Offer is rolled out for them. All the “Big 7” firms hire this way. Many Tier I and Tier II firms also prefer this mode of hiring because it lets the workplace evaluate the prospective employees’ suitability for the position. Similarly, this mode is a huge hit with students because it gives them the first-hand experience of working in the environment and checking their sustainability.
- Overseas Hirings – International law firms welcome applications from only those who have a strong academic track record. Personal interviews are conducted based on their selection, followed by a legal assignment. If the student is chosen, he or she will be offered a “vacation scheme” that is similar to an internship at the law firm’s international office. This internship is more of an “assessment”, and at the conclusion of it, you will be offered a training contract. The training contract, on the other hand, is more like a job offer.
- Day One and Day Zero – The major chunk of placements and hirings are looked after in the “Day Zero” & “Day One” events. Day Zero is usually the first day of recruitment at national law schools, at which the most favoured recruiters visit campus and/or conduct interviews with students for placement and Day one is the second. The nomenclature “Day Zero”, because it happens at the end of the fourth year, just before the final year of law school.
Other job avenues after a life in an NLU
In addition to the students hired by the above-mentioned recruitment processes, some students choose a variety of additional approaches depending on their particular motivations and for which there may not be a standard procedure. For example, one student could start his/her own practice while another joins as a junior with a working attorney in order to pursue a career in litigation. Another option is to seek a clerkship with a Supreme Court judge.
Continuing the same example of NALSAR Hyderabad –
- 2 students secured jobs through individual endeavours as law clerks at the Supreme Court.
- As per a release, many non-subscribers to the Recruitment Cell of NALSAR secured jobs at tier-1 firms and advocates’ chambers through individual applications.
- Several 2021 batch graduates are currently preparing for competitive exams including civil services and judiciary exams.
- Others have secured admission to foreign universities for further studies.
Life in an NLU and beyond that looks pretty decent, eh? More than decent, you say! Indeed. Remember that as sweet life after NLU may seem, getting to an NLU is equally arduous. It requires dedicated preparation, exact study sources, study techniques and sheer willpower. Nevertheless, it isn’t something ungettable. So wherever you are in the preparation stage – whether starting it or concluding your journey with the upcoming examinations – decide quick and decide now.
Read Also: How is Life at NLU Delhi?