It is important to ask the right questions to find the law school right for you. Growth and globalization of business have led to a substantial increase in the growth of legal complexities. As the result of this growth and globalization, the demand for skilled legal professionals has increased exponentially. Subsequently, new opportunities for legal professionals may arise, especially when foreign law firms begin to enter the markets in India. Students aspiring to make the law their career will have new opportunities and growth prospects if they meet the expectations of the legal community. Having a law degree is not enough in the current market for someone to enter into a successful career in the legal profession. Students must stand out from the other graduates. Standing out requires proper planning and hardworking legal skills. Those who are aspiring to enter law school must consider a crucial question: “Which law school should I attend to obtain the right training and knowledge to be a successful legal professional?” It is a difficult and crucial choice that must be diligently researched by the potential student. An incorrect choice for a law school that does not match the particular student’s needs and desires could result in a waste of five foundational years of that student’s educational life and not properly prepare that student for the particular legal career he or she may desire. While a school’s reputation and ranking certainly should represent important aspects of the decision making process, especially when looking at the current job market, ranking and reputation can be deceiving and should not be the only factors to consider.

Most of the students and parents ask only one question, and that is about placements. This is not the crucial question that should be considered. Rather, the question a potential student should ask is: “Does the law school prepare me for a sustainable career in the legal profession?” After all, the student has to be ready for placement and should have the capability to be selected for a placement interview. Universities can bring recruiters on campus but ultimately the law school should also prepare the student for a life-long career in the legal profession.

On the journey to finding a law school that is the right fit for the student, there are four key factors to consider beyond the reputation and ranking of the law school. Those four factors include:

  1. The first import factor to consider is the law school program structure - what will the law school teach during the five year educational journey? Bar Council of India has prescribed certain compulsory subjects that must be taught, but what are the other subjects that are prescribed, and will those subjects make the student a better professional? Are they relevant? Will they enhance the student’s practical skills? Will they teach professional skills and subjects that are new and emerging areas of law? What is the number of credits attached to each subject? Does the law school provide internships? What is the importance given to internships? The design of the program structure is very vital when it comes to preparing students for the legal profession. The program structure should be such that it prepares the student for the legal profession on graduation day. The mere fact that a law school provides a large curriculum of subjects or subjects that are a novelty does not necessarily make for an ideal program structure. The program structure must be diligently researched and vetted to determine if that program is a good fit for that student.
  2.  The Second most important factor to take into consideration is the faculty strength.  It is very important for the potential student to thoroughly research the profile of faculty members, read about the faculty and their collective and individual experience, and review each faculty member’s qualifications. It is also necessary to know about the person in charge of the law school, whether it’s a Dean, Principal, Director or whatever nomenclature that is used. What experience he/she has to lead the law school, what vision he/she has to develop academics and over all prestige of law school. After all, a good educational institution is made by the people who work there and not by the infrastructure.
  3. The third factor to consider is the importance given to research at the law school. For a legal professional, research plays a very important role and students must be trained to do research by means of projects and also the publication of articles. Research abilities play a very important role in the making of a good legal professional. Co-curricular and extra-curricular activities also play a very important role in developing an over-all personality of the student. It is necessary as a law student to participate in and organize activities. Such things as Moot Court, Debates, MUN’s, play a very important role in developing the law student into a better legal professional, and organizing such events develops leadership skills in an individual. Therefore, it is necessary to inquire if such activities are conducted and due importance is given to participation in such activities in a law school.
    The fourth factor to consider is the Library within the law school.  The library is the laboratory for a Law School and the quality of the law school library can speak volumes about the overall quality of a law school.  It is very important to check the resources available at a law school such as an online database; journals, and reference books.  Students should spend a lot of time in the library reading books, not just that are pertaining to their syllabus but also other books like biographies of great personalities and lawyers, current affairs, research articles, journals, and the like as those resources provide a different perspective when it comes to being successful in the legal profession.

Before deciding on any law school, it is advisable to visit the campus, to speak to the students, their parents, faculty members and the Dean of the law school to get an overall holistic view of the law school. Websites may be misleading and may not provide complete and accurate information to the student. It is also important in the current economy to consider the Career Services Center at the law school as this Center assists the departing student with his or her career search. Investigate the Center to determine how much personalized assistance is provided to each student and whether the Center is dedicated to law firms or the public sector. Ideally, a student should choose a law school to attend where a substantial portion of the Career Services staff is focused on that student’s particular area of interest. Another consideration should be the location of the law school as it is important to attend a law school in the geographic area in which the student intends to reside. This will provide the student with additional job opportunities, as the majority of law firms, businesses, and public entities recruiting at the law school will be local.

It is important to ask the right questions to find the right law school for you. The right questions include looking at the four factors mentioned herein of the law school program structure, the faculty, the research at the law school, and the library. It is also important to consider the location of the law school and the Career Services Center. Conducting careful due diligence and asking important questions will ensure that you find the law school that is right for you.

About the writer

Dr. Rhishikesh Dave is a Ph.D. in Law (International Criminal Law (Saurashtra University, India); LL. M (Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws) and LLB (Saurashtra University, India) and has over 13+ years of experience in the field of teaching, administration, and research. Before joining NMIMS School of Law as Dean, he was associated as Dean & Professor, School of Law with Galgotias University, Greater Noida, UP. Dr. Rhishikesh Dave completed his LL.M with specialization in Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws. His doctoral research (Ph.D.) was on the subject of the concept of Sovereign Immunity and International Criminal Law. He was awarded Doctoral Scholarship by The Hague Academy of International Law. His areas of interest are Human Rights, International Humanitarian Laws, Conflict of Laws, Criminal Law and Law of Evidence. His academic career spanning a decade has seen him working as Assistant Professor at Gujarat National Law University and later on Registrar of the same University. Dr. Dave served as Assistant/Associate Professor, Area Head, Criminal Law and Academic Coordinator at Institute of Law, Nirma University. He has conducted various workshops with National and International Agencies and has also been judging Moot Court Competitions; Inter American Human Rights Moot Court Competition, Hong Kong Red Cross Moot Court Competition to name a few. He has done research projects funded by Tribal Commissioner, Government of Gujarat and Gujarat Ecology Commission.