Not from an Elite School

I had just heard about IIM from the Newspapers, when the CAT results were out. Being a Kerelite, I was always aware about IIT (Indian Institute of Technology). These were Elite Colleges and one had to work really hard to get into these colleges. That is the maximum I knew about them, until I got into Law college. All I knew was, the students, who pass out of these Elite Schools are exceptionally brilliant and therefore, get placed in the best of the Industries with maximum packages.

I was in my first year of law (three years LL.B.), at New Law College, Mumbai, which was just 5 mins away from my house. Ruparel College, in Mumbai is also a scholar’s haven and I was just happy to get into a college that was 5 mins away from my house and was one of the best in my city. Being a good speaker, right from the first month of college, I had been participating in Elocution and Debate competitions conducted at the Mumbai University Youth Festival. It was no big deal and I was almost like a frog in a well. I thought these are the maximum things that one needs to know during public speaking. I was an average speaker.

In our Law College days, we participate in something called as Moot Court, which is like a dummy court i.e. we are provided with a case and we need to present our case, with the appropriate law and case laws. One fine day, a couple of my seniors, came down to meet me in the library and asked me if I would like to participate in an International Law Competition being held at Jodhpur. I was ecstatic and immediately said yes. The next few days, we spent a minimum of 12 to 14 hours in the college library. Those were the best days of my life. Pouring into books for hours and hours, looking out for research material, references, contacting other seniors, lawyers to help you out with the problem.

With 2 large suitcases filled with books for last minute research, we left for the competition to Jodhpur by modest Second Class Compartment of Express Train. Once, we reached, our hotel early morning, we met other participants and exchanged, modest greetings. We immediately, went to our rooms to freshen up and then head to the university for the Orientation Session. It was the first time I had seen such a big campus at a stretch, though it was fairly new college and still under construction. Colleges from almost 4 to 5 countries (including Pakistan), who were participating in the competition.

We had to face two teams before, we were even qualified for the Octa finals. We successfully cleared one level but unfortunately failed to clear the second round. The next two days, we spent in interacting with other students and exploring the city. On the third day, the finals were held in the same hall, wherein the valedictory function was to be held. The two teams to reach the finals were National Law Schools. The competition began and the teams started presenting their arguments. While, their arguments were going on, we were simultaneously cross checking our documents and our preparation material. More or less, our research material, points of arguments were all same but there was something that we lacked miserably due to which, we failed badly.

It was our presentation skills and our entire approach to the subject. That is the reason why probably, despite having the same content we could not convince the Judges. That is the moment when I realized, the difference between education at a National Law School and an Ordinary Law School.

  1. Read, Read and Read seems to be their only mantra for survival. While, we interacted with the students, it was evident that they were voracious readers. A simple conversation with a well read person, is always different and insightful.
  2. Research, is something that was an integral part of the competition but the technique used was entirely different. For us research meant, just randomly, reading the books based on that particular topic, and therefore, we also had a lot of unnecessary content with us, which only further added to our confusion. There is a method and a technique, which helps you streamline your arguments.
  3.  We spent a lot of our spare time at their College Library and that was the place, wherein even other 90% of the college students, spent most of the time, preparing for different assignments, by pouring their heads through reference books. In our college Reference Books, which runs in volumes, were read only by those, who go for Moot Courts or other similar Competitions. Majority of the students relied mostly on the reed thin guides, which barely ran upto 100 pages and were more like bullet points on law. But in these Colleges, almost every other student poured through the Reference Books and knew how to find a case study. (It may seem shocking but a lot of final year students from Law Schools still do not know, how to find a simple case despite having the citation at hand).
  4. Interpretation of Statutes and Jurisprudence, is something, that every Lawyer needs to apply, while applying a particular statute to a case. But unfortunately, that is something, that is only mugged up (studied by heart) by students only to clear their second year exams. The practical implications of the Statutes are never taught to us or rather, we never take interest in these two subjects, because probably, they are only plain boring theories and will not help you in future until and unless you are not going ahead in teaching field.
  5. Communication Skills are important irrespective of the field you select. No matter how brilliant you are, if you cannot convey the idea to the person sitting across you, then your knowledge is of no use. Since, school days, communication skills have been limited to those standard letters asked during English Exams. National Law Schools encourage, presenting papers at various conferences, which is definitely a good exposure to develop your communication skills.
  6. Even though we both had the same content, there was something missing in our arguments. Clarity of the Idea, would have helped us avoid all those last minute confusion, and we wouldn’t have fumbled. This is not something that we could have also learnt over night, but with adequate training and right guidance, this would have been possible.
  7. Immense Exposure. Most of the students studying in these colleges had participated in competitions, across the world. More importance was given to overall development , which is unusual in ordinary law colleges. In Ordinary Law Colleges, barely a handful students participate, in Intercollegiate competitions, their main aim is to just study the limited course and then get a degree. More importance is given to scoring marks in exams by just mugging up, than understanding a particular concept.
  8. One of the biggest drawbacks of the National Law Schools is the exorbitant amount of fees, due to which only students from well to do families can pursue their studies there. Probably, that is one of the reasons, why Students from these elite institutions, prefer to work with International Law Firms than to work in lower Courts. Though they have full working knowledge of the Courts, but the amount of students, that actually come down to practice are very less.

When I was a student, I did not know the difference a College or a Premier institute would make,until I started hunting for a job and professionally started meeting these students.

Anyways, time cannot be turned back. I would have been nothing that I am today without whatever my College taught me.

If you like my thoughts, please do comment on the same.

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