Wondering how to apply to law school? Law careers are one of the most lucrative fields for students in the field of humanities. Even so, applying to law school can be a daunting task especially as there are plenty of colleges with their respective law entrances and admission procedures.
Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to apply to law schools in India and abroad:
1. Types of Law Degrees
Decide which type of law degree suits you, before you apply to law school.
1.1) Undergraduate Law Degree
There are a variety of options to choose from like integrated five-year courses of BA LLB, BBA LLB and BCom LLB for undergraduates. If one has already done their graduation in other fields, they can apply for a three-year LLB degree to get their law career started.
1.2) Postgraduate Law Degree
For post-undergraduate law degrees, Master of Law Courses like LLM or LLD is preferable.
1.3) Diploma or Certificate Law Course
Candidates can apply for a diploma or certificate course at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Usually, such courses range from a period of one to three years.
2. Mode of Education
One can choose the mode of classes such as full-time, part-time or online classroom programs. However, please note that most law schools in India offer full-time courses. Nevertheless, many law schools also provide online law courses to interested candidates who can pursue the program according to their own pace.
3. Application Criteria
· Candidate should be of Indian origin.
· You must secure a minimum of 45% marks in your 12th boards to be eligible for the CLAT UG exam.
· For CLAT PG, one must have completed the LLB degree with a minimum of 55% from a recognized college or university. However, candidates in their final year of LLB can also appear for CLAT.
4. Law School Entrance Exam
The Common Law Entrance Test (CLAT) caters to all National Law Universities across the country, except NLU Delhi. Also, CLAT is usually held in the last month of the year and has results announced by January of next year.
The All India Law Entrance Test (AILET) is the entrance exam held by NLU Delhi for admission to its institute. Indeed, it is the only NLU in India to have its entrance, unlike other NLUs that only accept CLAT scores.
5. Start Preparing for Law School
Whether you go for private tutoring or prefer self-study, make sure you set aside at least two to three months for preparation. In addition to this, strictly adhere to the exam pattern as well as thoroughly practice past-year papers.
5.1) Mode of Examination
Exams will be held offline in pen-paper format. Note that it will have 120 multiple-choice questions as per the latest guidelines and will be held for a total of two hours.
For CLAT, the syllabus consists of general English, current affairs, legal aptitude, logical reasoning and quantitative techniques. Moreover, all sections have varying weightage. Further, for each correct answer, the candidate is awarded 1 mark but for an incorrect answer, 0.25 marks are deducted. Be careful of this while attempting the exam.
6. Applying to Private Law Schools
Many private institutes like Symbiosis Law School, Lloyd Law College and Christ University (Law) organise their law entrances aside from accepting CLAT scores. Besides they are held mostly before CLAT in the months of July-August. Nonetheless, candidates must not ignore these entrances as these can be safe options if one does not get their preferred college in CLAT counselling.
7. Result Declaration
CLAT results are announced after one month from the conclusion of the exam, via online mode. The result is shown via a merit list based on the marks obtained by the candidate. Please note that only candidates whose names appear on the merit list are considered for counselling.
Usually, the cut-off is released following the result declaration. The cut-off for a participating law school is the minimum rank one needs to secure for admission to the institute. Hence, candidates who manage to obtain a rank equivalent to the CLAT cut-off will get admission in that round. Despite this, if a candidate fails to meet the cut-off for the final round of seat allotment, they are unlikely to secure admission. Thus those who are missing out may be considered in subsequent rounds.
9. Selection Process
The candidate will be required to appear for counselling as per the rank obtained in the entrance exam. Accordingly, they are to attend the counselling on the date as prescribed by the authority. Thereafter, in the counselling session, the candidate has to select the choice of colleges and courses as per their preferences. The final admission will be done based on the candidate’s ranks and availability of seats. Subsequently, the candidates can report to the allotted college for slot confirmation.
10. Obtain the Necessary Documents
Keep scanned copies of all the documents listed below during your counselling session:
A. 10th & 12th class mark sheets and passing certificates
B. Graduation passing certificate (if applicable)
C. Admit Card of CLAT
D. Rank Card of CLAT
E. Passport-size photographs
11. After Law School: Careers
The judiciary is not the only field to end up in after finishing your law degree. There is a plethora of careers in the banking, corporate, government and education sectors. Some of the most lucrative legal careers include Corporate Lawyer, Legal Advisor, Immigration Lawyer, Paralegal, Law Professor, etc.
12. Role of a Lawyer
Before you sign up for CLAT, it is necessary to look into what is the role of a lawyer and the duties a lawyer performs so you can accordingly prepare yourself for the future.
12.1) Giving Advice to Clients
Naturally, lawyers are required to give legal advice to their clients, which includes reviewing their cases, explaining legal laws and terms, and doing research and so on to help their clients make informed decisions.
12.2) Representing in Court
Indeed, lawyers represent their clients in court and defend them against their opponents. They present evidence before the judge and argue their clients’ cases.
12.3) Draft Legal Documents
Drafting a huge range of clear and concise legal documents in little-to-no time is also one of the duties of a lawyer.
13. US Law Schools
An international law degree can be quite heavy on the pocket. Yet it can be worth the expense as it grants one useful international exposure that may not be possible while studying in India.
To be eligible for the LSAT candidates must have secured above 70% in their 12th boards. Not to forget most law schools in the US require a preliminary UG law degree to further study law abroad. Lastly, a good score on English language proficiency tests like IELTS or TOEFL is compulsory.
13.2) Application Procedure
First, register on Credential Assembly Service (CAS) portal to upload all required documents. This is important because most law schools accept applications through CAS. Following this, apply to law schools on the portal, keeping in mind factors like location, faculty, etc. Next, on the LSAC website, apply for the LSAT (the US equivalent of CLAT) online. A $200 fee is mandatory for registration.
The LSAT is held 7 times a year. Without a doubt, one should utilise this to plan one’s preparation and revision in time before the deadline of one’s preferred law school draw close. Furthermore, the syllabus of the LSAT is quite similar to that of the CLAT, with sections under logical and analytical reasoning, reading comprehension and essay writing. Note that it is held for 3 hours and 30 minutes. Also, it consists of 99-102 questions, conducted in offline mode in pen-paper format. To get into top law schools in the US, one needs to score at least 164-170 to be considered for admission.
13.5) Documents Required
· LSAT scorecard
· Letters of Recommendation
· Personal Statement
· Passing certificate from school and previous college/university
· English proficiency test results
13.6) Scholarships Offered for Law Schools
Studying abroad is not cheap at all, so here are some popular scholarships to aid you financially:
A. Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship: Particularly designed for students seeking to study for a master’s degree in selected US universities in legal fields.
B. Tata Trust Scholarship: Awarded to a select few on a merit basis.
C. ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship Fund: This scholarship is offered by the American Bar Association for first-year students at law schools in the US.
D. New York University Scholarship: Granted to meritorious students who can get their whole tuition fee waived along with other benefits.
To sum up, whether you opt for pursuing your legal education in India or the States, a law degree can go a long way in the future. What’s more that it enhances one’s chances in the job market while boosting one’s knowledge of basic legal rights as well.
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