NLSIU Bengaluru has announced online four-week classes for high schoolers to help them become a lawyer, called the Foundations for a Legal Education (FLE) Certificate Course costing up to Rs 7,500.
The FLE is open to high schoolers at tenth standard grade or above, and promises that over “four rigorous weeks”, it would set students “on the path to acquire the skills and intellectual abilities” to make the “journey” to law school “easy and effective”.
With the move, India’s first national law school will be competing with similar offerings from a wider private sector of potentially lucrative pre-university education for ambitious youth (and their parents).
As such, it very much aligns with NLS and its vice-chancellor’s vision to eventually make the national law university financially independent from government funding.
We reached out to NLSIU for more details beyond what is included on its website.
Three tiers of pricing
The FLE is available from the cheapest variant of Rs 1,875, which provides access to purely online learning materials, up to a Rs 3,250 tier that includes faculty interactions, and a Rs 7,500 tier that also includes NLS issuing a certificate.
According to an NLSIU spokesperson for the course, the Rs 1,875 “content access variant” would be “for those students who wish to access all course content, but do not wish to attend classes, or interact live with faculty”.
“This variant allows access to interactive videos, reading materials, and recordings of certain faculty sessions,” explained in an NLS response.
The second tier “content access and faculty interactions variant” of the course would allow students to “attend live classes, which will be conducted by a range of NLS faculty”. “Faculty shall conduct such sessions across all focus areas of the course, such as reading critically and analysing complex materials, understanding and analysing quantitative information in context, writing persuasively, and arguing effectively,” said NLS.
The third and most expensive tier, would cost Rs 7,500 and, according to NLS would include a certificate awarded to students who successfully cleared all assessments and evaluations. We asked what practical use the certificate would have. “The certificate will show a student’s seriousness to pursue legal education and will provide them a headstart in the field of legal education,” said NLS. “Such a certificate would be an indicator of students’ abilities to think and reason critically, analyse complex materials, and present convincing arguments.”
Some more FAQs we put to NLS
We emailed some more questions about the course to NLS and have included their responses below.
Who is running the course at NLS?
NLS: “The Foundations for a Legal Education Certificate Course shall be provided through NLSIU’s Distance Education Department, and a number of NLS faculty are involved in its preparation.
“In addition to these faculty, practitioners and industry experts shall also be involved in its delivery.”
What is the maximum student capacity for the FLE and how many are you envisaging could join the first batch / throughout a year?
NLS: “There is currently no limit on the number of students that can be a part of any cohort of the course. Students may be divided into sub-groups based on the total number of applications received.”
When will the first batch start, or is it a rolling purely online course that can start any time?
NLS: “The course will be offered in multiple modes. Keeping in mind their examination schedules and academic obligations, students may choose the timing and schedule that suits them and is compatible with their academic obligations. We will announce a detailed schedule for classes shortly.”
Do you envisage that such a course could add to the financial and learning burden for young students wanting to become lawyers, many of whom already do CLAT coaching, etc?
NLS: “This certificate course is not a test-preparatory course and it is not a mandatory course. It is a foundations course for anyone interested in legal education. Those who are motivated in taking up the course may choose to do so.
“NLSIU is committed to deepening and broadening the pool of students interested in pursuing a legal education. Our effort seeks to motivate bright young high school students to consider and pursue a legal education.”
NLS said it would also be offering 26 scholarships to “deserving students” who submitted their expressions of interest for the course this week.
What kind of potential risks are there of this kind of course exacerbating issues of access to top law schools, since the costs may be too high for students from non-traditional backgrounds?
NLS: “Students may choose between the wide array of courses currently being offered in this field.
“We are confident that our course will be cost-effective and will be of the best quality offered in the country. This is our effort to broaden and deepen the pool of law students in India and to motivate students to consider and take up legal education.”
CLAT 2021 a go?
While, according to the university, the FLE is not a law admissions preparation course, we have also reached out to NLSIU vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy about whether NLS was committed to remaining within the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2021 this year.
We understand that Krishnaswamy has been attending CLAT consortium meetings.
However, in light of queries we have received from candidates following NLS’ last-minute withdrawal from the CLAT last year to create its National Law Aptitude Test (NLAT) (that was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court), we thought an official clarification would be useful to candidates.
Krishnaswamy did not respond for requests for comment since earlier today.