The trip made to the school Raghudevpur Shadharoner Vidyalaya for girls Howrah, West Bengal proved to be quite an educating experience for the IDIA team from NUJS. The IDIA team consisting of NUJS students Arnab (5th yr), Diptoshree(4th yr), Ramanuj(4th yr), Radhika(4th yr), Adreeka (2nd yr), Aditi(1st yr) accompanied by Mr. Shameek Sen, faculty at NUJS, conducted this sensitization program.
The students in the school primarily hailed from lower income group. During the entire course of the session, the school authorities were extremely helpful and accommodating. The inputs received from the teacher seconded the obvious apprehension of the team about the lack of awareness about law as a career amongst students in small towns, rural areas and other non-affluent backgrounds.
The students who participated in the session were from XIth and XIIth standard. The team realized from the beginning of the session that the school students had little idea about law as a career. Though they had heard of the 3 year course but they did not have any idea about the 5 year integrated course a National Law University offers.
The team started the session with the question, whether any of them had considered the legal profession as a career option and, literally, none seemed interested. We explained them about what lawyers do and the diverse options one has after doing law. They were told about the various universities where one can pursue law and the advantage of pursuing it at one of the ten National Law schools in terms of better quality of education, infrastructure and recruitment.
The students were informed about the high pay packages given to students from law schools and campus placement. The presenters- Ramanuj and Diptoshree, recounted their personal experiences of choosing law over other professional streams. After the presentation it appeared to them a good idea as it posed law as a viable career option as opposed to last resort. It was noticed during the course of the session that the most important consideration for these students seemed to be social justice as well as economic stability for themselves.
The students hailed from impoverished background. One of their major concerns was regarding the financial assistance they may be provided. Most of them lacked the means for pursuing further education leave alone higher education. Inspite of all the possible financial hindrances that may arise in future, some were ambitious. But the irony is, though they aimed to study medical or engineering (which are also expensive), no one mentioned law. This clearly indicated towards lack of awareness as a primary reason behind the absence of students from economically poor backgrounds in the National Law Universities.
To assess the student’s aptitude for law, an aptitude test was taken which was largely based on Logical Reasoning, General Knowledge, English, Legal Reasoning and Mathematics. The question paper was deliberately drafted in vernacular and only the GK section was in English. The aim of the aptitude test was to identify those students with the aptitude required for law and the ability needed to crack the Common Law Admission Test. They will be provided free and intensive training for CLAT. Then a list of top scorers was prepared and the students were selected on the basis of the aptitude test’s result, their financial background and general academic performance.
The team was quite heartened to see that they were successful in encouraging even those students who did not fare well in the test but still were inclined to consider law as a career option.