A 2003 graduate from NLIU Bhopal, Gaurav Chopra, has joined the still-tiny but fast-growing club of senior counsel from national law universities (NLUs) by getting bestowed the senior counsel’s gown by the Punjab & Haryana high court, in a round of 27 elevations.
The news was first tweeted by NLIU alumnus Vaibhav Joshi, noting it was a “moment of immense pride for my alma mater”, in that “our very own @gaurav_chopra has been designated” yesterday.
To date, NLSIU had been the only national law school with alumni to have got the gown, which is partly just a function of time: it was the first NLU, founded in 1986.
That is more than 10 years before NLIU Bhopal, which had been established in 1997 with classes starting in 1998, making it by some counts India’s second or tied-second-oldest NLU alongside Nalsar Hyderabad (which was also started in 1998).
Senior counsel need a minimum of at least 10 years of practice at the bar and the majority will take considerably longer than that, and the vast majority of current seniors and also most of the new ones are graduates from older, non-national law schools.
NLSIU eventually broke through four years ago with 1998 graduate Akshay Bhan getting the gown in (also) the Punjab & Haryana high court in 2014; many more have followed since in his footsteps, including the most recent mammoth round in Delhi including at least six NLS graduates in the total list of 55.
Simply by virtue of having few graduates old enough (and maybe also helped by the virtuous network effects of NLS having more alumni in courts and the profession already), graduates from other NLUs have yet to join the senior ranks.
But in the coming years, they are now all but certain to do so.
And this would have likely been music to the ears of the late Prof Madhava Menon, the father and chaperone of many NLUs and the ideals, who had often bemoaned that corporate law firms were hoovering up much of the NLU talent.
That too may be beginning to change.