NLU Delhi Campus Review: Transforming, redefining legal education
NLU, Delhi aims to impart interdisciplinary legal education that is socially relevant, promoting legal and ethical values and fostering the objectives enshrined in India’s Constitution...
It may be a bit cliched to use the phrase ‘Winners don’t do different things. They do things differently’, famously used by motivational speaker Shiv Khera in his book ‘You Can Win’, to describe NLU, Delhi. However, this is what this law school exactly does, putting a lot of emphasis on research, unlike other law schools, and it resonates well with the student community. “Though I got rank 12 in CLAT, I chose this school because this is in Delhi, it has a location advantage and this is the best college to pursue law,” says Ajitendra Singh, a 1st year student of B.A.LLB, who cracked NLU Delhi’s entrance exam AILET to pursue law at his dream destination.
NLU Delhi is one the most sought after law schools which is accredited with ‘A’ grade with a score of 3.59 on a 4-point scale by NAAC. Sheltered in a secluded area away from the hustle and bustle of the main city, the law school stands out from the rest of the NLUs for many reasons, not just research.
The primary activities that happen in a classroom environment here are lectures, seminars, tutorial and role plays. All the relevant study materials are prepared and distributed for each course, enabling the students to remain engaged with the subjects in focus. The students are also encouraged to constantly engage in debates during classes on various issues that are relevant to the syllabus. Each student is exposed to research from the very first year and each course includes a project to develop skills in research, analysis and writing.
“NLU, Delhi is doing well because we have a fresh vision. We have a vision of interdisciplinary studies here. The number of activities that we have are really great, like we have a lot of conferences and seminars. We have staged a lot of plays concerning law. I don’t think there are any other NLUs which have such a robust programme,” said Prof. Prasannanshu, founding faculty.
NLU, Delhi puts a lot of emphasis on quality of its faculty. Only PhD holders are recruited as faculty and are asked to lead a team for research-based projects. “I was very sure that the kind of faculty we recruit will be able to establish different centres in different areas of law and in those centres they will be doing research,” said Prof (Dr.) Ranbir Singh, Vice Chancellor. The university presently has 10 research centres. “It has a very professional environment and the teachers here are amazing. There is a lot of study pressure but still they mould you in such a way that you eventually become a great lawyer,” adds Ajitendra.
The world-class library, occupying two floors of a building complex, has a huge collection of both contemporary and historical legal materials running to more than 37,500 books, CDs, DVDs and journals. The students also have access to online databases of international and national expertise like that of Westlaw International, LexisNexis Academic, Hein Online, JSTOR, India Stat and AIR InfoTech, Supreme Court of India, high courts and Criminal Law Journal, to name a few. “I completed my LLB from Lucknow University. I have seen a good number of libraries in India but I found this library to be very rich in resources. Not many students get an opportunity like this,” said Sheetal Bhatiani, an LLM student.
Student exchange programme
NLU, Delhi has signed a number of MoUs with various universities of national and international repute that bring in collaborative research through student exchange programmes. Anna Christina, a student from Ruhr-Universität Bochum Germany who has come for a year as part of the student exchange programme, is very happy with the teacher student rapport. “The students here are very familiar with each other, even with the teachers. Some students are friends with their teachers. It is different from my university because my university has around 40,000 students and it is very anonymous. You don’t even know other students or your teachers,” she said.
The university takes pride in 100 percent placement. It is managed by the students recruitment committee called RCC. The facilities are provided by the institute. The students are placed in entities like Trilegal, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, AZB & Partners, Khaitan & Co, Luthra & Luthra, Talwar Thakore & Associates (TTA) S&R Associates, among others.
Apart from the regular cultural programmes that the students engage in from time to time, they have access to activities like volleyball and basketball. They also have opened state-of-the-art gymnasiums in hostels for boys and girls.
Founding Faculty, NLU, Delhi
We have a vision of interdisciplinary studies here. The number of activities that we have are really great, like we have a lot of conferences and seminars. We have staged a lot of plays concerning law. I don’t think there are any other NLUs which have such a robust programme
Student, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
The students here are very familiar with each other, even with the teachers. Some students are friends with their teachers. It is different from my university because my university has around 40,000 students and it is very anonymous. You don’t even know other students or your teachers
Prof. Ranbir Singh,
Vice Chancellor, NLU, Delhi
Q. How is NLU, Delhi different from the rest of the law schools?
A. We don’t do different things but we do things differently. I am very sure that the other law schools which are there, all of them are, of course, doing very well but there was not much of focus on research. So I decided that I am going to concentrate on research. That is why NLU is different from other law schools.
Q. Can you tell us about a project that has made a mark ?
A. Okay, one of the very important centres was ‘Centre for Death Penalty Abolition’. So in collaboration with the Supreme Court and the National Legal Services Authority, we started a project on more than 300 death penalty for victims in which faculty was also involved and about 100 students were involved. We prepared a questionnaire and it took two years to be completed. We also decided that whatever funding was required would be done by the university because there may be allegations at times that it is a sponsored research because death penalty is a controversial topic. When the first report was released by Mr. Justice Madan Lokur and the study was put on website, the New York Times published a half-page write-up about that. This was followed by full-page stories in various publications.
Q. How many such projects are there?
A. NLU, Delhi has a dozen projects in different centres and they will be to the tune of more than 30 crore rupees. That would mean that NLU, Delhi has more projects than all the schools of law combined.
Q. Are first-year students also involved in the research work?
A. We do not make any distinctions. If the students who work in the centres have to be from a particular class, mainly they are from the first-year, second-year and third-year because when the students go to 4th and 5th years they do not have time. They are more involved in their work and more involved in their internship program in law firms.
Q. What are the specialized courses you offer?
A. We offer specialised courses in the 4th and 5th years. Our system is that when these students come to the fourth year they can have two papers of their choice, the area in which they want to specialize. The system is that the faculty and people from the corporates, lawyers or anybody else who are interested in teaching at the law school, they submit their plans for the seminar papers and then they come here and make presentations to the students. It is for the students to choose the seminar paper and so they do two papers in the fourth year and four papers in fifth year. We give six specialized courses.