Friday, 18 November 2016

Why Confused High Schoolers Should Consider a Legal Education?

When you are in high school, you are lured by myriad considerations to pursue Science and any of its esteemed streams for higher studies. Those who choose Arts are usually either extremely passionate about a certain subject or aim for government jobs. Very few actually consider law at this stage. Many of the students I study with, including myself, happened to consider the law school entrance amongst other entrance examinations after high school purely out of amusement. There is indeed very little awareness about law schools except for the idea of lawyers in crow like robes crowding the courts and shouting objection before the judge, as perpetuated by Bollywood.

Recently, in addition to it, we have come across the suave image of Harvey Specter who speaks for the non-litigating class of lawyers. But the popular conception remains that lawyers are extremely sly and probably rich and suave. That is one of the motivations for students taking up law.

In fact, I would not lie, the bait of high packages drew me in for pursuing law. But after four years in a law school, I have realized one important thing. Firstly, none of those images of lawyers are real. Most of the real lawyers I have seen rarely raise their voice in court. In fact after seeing that famous tareekh pe tareekh scene, one would be surprised to see how rarely lawyers lose their cool in a courtroom. In fact, courtroom dramas are mostly myths. After ages would there be a real drama like that. Even the NJAC judgment would in reality mostly constitute the Chief Justice reading out an excessively long document in a monotonous tone over few days.

So, if the dramas are not real, why would one who has no experience about life as lawyers choose law?

The second most common answer to the question Why did I choose law? would be I read To Kill a Mockingbird. The first answer amongst the current generation would be, I want to be Harvey Specter. This also speaks for elitism amongst law students. In any leading law school, you will rarely find students without a background in an elite English-medium education. This is definitely necessary because the system stands on the language but it has also created exclusionary criteria among law aspirants. Moreover, students generally come from a similar background even if they are from different states. This creates a distance between their subjects and themselves.

Laws are generally meant to protect the weak against the strong and when one belongs in a privileged background, the reason for the existence of laws is lost to them. This coupled with the heat of youth leads to a lot of arrogance amongst students in elite law schools universally. One of the reasons for this is also the expensive fee structure. This is why we have students preferring corporate houses instead of public litigation. Corporate firms pay for their investment in their education and make them accustomed to a certain lifestyle that binds them in a system. This is the same in most elite schools. When you start you career in debts, you end up surrounding your life with more debts and obligations. This is what makes good servants. But enough about that. What we really need is more students considering law as their pursuit and the reasons are quite obvious.

To begin with, the law is a very versatile field. It provides a lot of diverse practice areas and if you are still dissatisfied, you can also use the knowledge to prepare for civil service and other similar service entrances. Now that we have the opportunities out of the way, let us speak about what a course of law entails. We have a lot of different combinations nowadays with LLB and students prefer commercial degrees like B.Com or BBA with an LLB. But the traditional combination remains BA, LLB. In fact, if you so desire, you can also do a B.Sc., LLB. What would be common to all these courses are the mandatory papers of law like Constitutional Law.

But what about it?

Why should you study law when you can just as well get a bachelor degree in three years and do a post graduate diploma in something you are interested in? Of course, you must not study law if you have a prefixed life goal that does not involve paperwork. But if you are confused about what you want and you are tossing a coin, I am just asking you to keep this in your consideration.

If you ask me why?

I will tell you that it makes you more aware, socially and politically. As students, our schools teach us a lot about natural scientific phenomenon but they somehow largely ignore our development in terms of socio-political awareness. The result is that we all become eligible voters without the faintest idea of how everything works. We know how a rocket works, but have got a very little idea about how the person we vote goes about seeking funds for the city. I am not saying that this is essential knowledge. Nothing is essential beyond our own existence. But these are things that make us more aware as citizens.

Having an education in law and governance, even if it emphasizes more on corporates, we develop the ability to see through a lot of things that would ordinarily escape our eyes. Moreover, the entire course is structured to develop our analytical skills. It is not expected of students to be highly knowledgeable, though it will be appreciated, but the main requirement for a student of law remains the skills of analysis and solution of problems. This will be the focus of any good law school.

It is probably impossible for any fresh graduate to be knowledgeable about every branch of law. Such knowledge comes with experience. But their analytical skills are appraised throughout the course. Moreover, there is a constant emphasis on unbiased judgments and natural justice which widens the mind considerably. The courses enable students to see both sides of a situation judiciously in a detached manner. The judgment of a student of law is meant to be more analytical through rigorous practice of such skills. In fact, after four years, I realized that I have started to view the world quite differently than I used to. Such a temperament is necessary amongst the youth in a developing country like India. While I am certain most other courses will also have similar elements, their emphasis is placed otherwise. While the said skills may also be developed independently, it is probably more expectable through cultivation amongst students of law than in others.

Even after four years, if somebody asked me why I pursued law, I would probably give a very cryptic answer. But if somebody asked what the one thing is that I definitively learned in these four years, I would answer clarity. It may be the introversion and social anxiety, it might be the mandatory course on the philosophy of justice, it may be maturity, but I am probably more confident about my social perceptions and awareness being a student of law than I would have been otherwise.

Written by Sayantani Saha
Writer, dreamer of world exploration and lover of high fantasy

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