A career in law can be challenging and exciting every step of the way. The very first step is choosing the right law school. You want to make sure you don’t get off on the wrong foot. In your early days in the legal profession, your peers and prospective employers will all be asking the one big question—So where did you go to law school? The answer carries a lot of weight.
Here are 9 key factors to consider to help you make the right decision:
- Know what you want
You may be passionate about the environment or curious about intellectual property rights. Maybe you’ve always pictured yourself suited up for corporate law. Figuring out what you might want to specialise in is a good place to start your search.
Find programmes that match your ambitions. That means curriculum with specialised courses, faculty with domain expertise, a range of electives related to the field and so on.
A word of caution—you may be convinced right now about your career choice, but remember, most legal degree programmes are three to five years long. A lot can happen in that much time. Your future plans could pivot altogether. The safest bet—keep your options open and choose a school that’s academically balanced.
- Check out faculty profiles
Remember Robin Williams’ powerful portrayal of John Keating, the inspiring English teacher in the much-loved coming-of-age film, Dead Poets Society? There’s a lot you can learn out of a textbook, but it’s the spirit of a good teacher that really brings a subject alive. So do your research on faculty profiles. Faculty drawn from and educated in different parts of the world bring in a diversity of perspectives, expertise and experiences to the classroom.
- A multidisciplinary approach can be a game-changer
Law is a multidisciplinary subject in itself. It deals with every aspect of life. So a law school offering a broad spectrum of perspectives from different fields will have an upper hand. Going one step further, a law school based in a multidisciplinary university setting will definitely have an advantage over stand-alone law schools.
- Know the school’s network
Exposure and experience are everything today. It’s not just about adding more feathers to your cap—though a colourful resume is definitely an impression worth building up—but you also stand to add depth and dimension to your learning.
Look for the best of academic exposure—semester abroad programmes, summer or winter school opportunities, or the possibility of pursuing dual degrees with top international institutions. A strong global network will also open up doors for further studies abroad.
Tie-ups with national and international law firms, corporates, NGOs, think tanks, research organisations, government bodies, etc. give an edge in gathering strong internship experiences as well.
- Employability is important
Legal professions are booming across the world. At the same time, law is a competitive field. The key to success lies not only in strong academic training, but close mentorship, exposure, opportunity to explore various career choices through internships and international linkages, and a variety of other career development guidance. The placement reports and recruitment partners of a law school can be a telling measurement of the opportunities that await you.
But today, finding a good employer is not your only option. You could be the one to run the show. Get an idea of how the schools on your radar support entrepreneurship—be it related to law or something entirely different.
- Location matters
Do you enjoy big city life or would you be open to moving to a rustic small town with a vibrant campus complete in itself? You’ve got to ask yourself what kind of place you want to study in.
As a young person, new experiences are an exciting part of life. For someone who’s never lived away from home, there’s a lot to be learned by attending law school in a new city or town—be it a change in space, adapting to a new culture, food, discovering the little joys of hostel life, or meeting new people from all over the world.
- Rankings count
Many top law schools don’t need an introduction. For instance, Harvard Law School’s reputation surely precedes itself. But is pedigree or popularity the final word? Not always.
Keeping a tab on reliable rankings is important in a world where change is constant. Beyond name and fame, rankings account for a variety of aspects. For instance, the QS World University Subject Rankings 2020—widely acknowledged as the Bible of rankings—ranked Jindal Global Law School as the top law school in India, and among the top 150 in the world. National Law School of India University, Bangalore, which was the first to introduce the five-year law programme, came second in India, and in the 151-200 band worldwide.
- Culture and extracurriculars are key for a balanced law school life
The culture at college can make or break your law school experience. Hands-on, practical knowledge of law through an active mooting culture is one aspect to consider. Another is the variety of extracurriculars available. Caught up in studies, you don’t want to lose sight of your passions and hobbies. A good school will make room for you to explore, discover and fulfil your interests beyond law.
Through a perfect blend of academics, sports, art and culture you’ll learn how to maintain a healthy ‘work-life balance’ all professionals seek, making you job-ready in more ways than one by the time you graduate.
- Get a first-hand account from students and alumni
You can get valuable information from programme brochures, law school websites, news articles, and so on, but what better source of truth than hearing it from the horse’s mouth?
Get in touch with current students. They’ll be honest with you. They’ve been in your shoes and learning about their law school journey would help you take the right call. Alumni can also give you the real scoop. Understand if and how the law school they attended prepared them for the professional world. Get advice on how to make the most of your time at law school.
Jindal Global Law School, set in the multidisciplinary, residential campus of O.P. Jindal Global University in Sonipat, Haryana, is prepared to live up to these expectations in every way. With a global curriculum, global faculty, global academic collaborations with the likes of Harvard, NYU, and Yale, a dynamic atmosphere rich with extra-curriculars, experiential learning opportunities and a range of scholarship options, JGLS has swiftly proven to be India’s best law school.
Graduates have found roles in top national and international law firms like White & Case, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, Khaitan & Co., etc., judiciary, litigation, corporations, consulting firms, think tanks, NGOs, government and intergovernmental organisations like the Ministry of Law and Justice or UNDP, among others. To know more, click here.
BA.LLB(Hons)NLIU. MBA(NIM). LL.M (JLU)
The author has teaching experience of 14 years, published books on CLAT/AILET prep and presently works as Deputy Director (Admissions and Outreach