With every passing year, the employment potential for lawyers is expanding.

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) - 2010, for admission to eleven national-level law universities across the country may have just got over, but the nation has embarked on its second generation legal reforms. With a plan to set up National Law Universities in every State, CLAT could be the key to soar as a legal eagle in future.

The number of candidates appearing for CLAT has almost doubled since its introduction. “We have received over 18,000 applications.

The number of applicants from south India is less than that from the north,” says S.S. Singh, convenor, CLAT'10.

The focus on engineering and management could be the reason for fewer applications from the south, he says.

CLAT essentially seeks to reduce the mental agony of the aspirants who had to apply separately to the law universities. CLAT has made it economical for the student.

Statistics reveal that the student interest in law as a career option is growing. The number of applicants has gone up from about 11,000 in 2008 to 18,000 this year. The principal advantage of the CLAT is that it is the gateway for admission to the National Law Universities.

Like in most other competitive tests, CLAT checks the English, arithmetic, logical reasoning, general and legal awareness of the aspirants.

“The faculty and infrastructure present at the NLUs give them an edge over other law colleges in the country. Law firms, Indian and foreign, make a beeline there during placement season,” says Aditya Singh, ranked 78 in CLAT 2008.

Currently pursuing BA LLB (Hons.) at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, Aditya says: “Of late, FMCG companies and public sector enterprises (PSE) have been showing a growing interest in recruiting legal officers from the NLUs.”

Recently, NLSIU, Bangalore, signed an MoU with the Maritime University in Chennai to produce advocates specialising in marine law for which there is a great demand but with very few practitioners.

Usually restricted to criminal and civil law in common parlance, the legal profession is encompassing new terrains spread over multi-disciplines. An inter-disciplinary approach to law has come to stay, say academicians.

As the vision document of legal reforms envisages setting up of a National Law University in every State, CLAT is the exam to crack to pursue legal education in the top institutes of the country.

Setting up of NLUs will not be a tough task for the Central government but the challenge lies in standardising each of the 913 law schools in the country.

Uniform legal education could still be a distant dream as there is a sharp and marked difference in the quality of students coming out of NLUs and law colleges.

Take the case of Tamil Nadu. While the students at the School of Excellence have the ability to compete with the legal graduates at NLUs, the students passing out of the government law colleges find it harder.

“The cut-off marks for the School of Excellence are quite high. Compared to that, the admission trend in law colleges shows that mostly students who pursue vocational streams in Plus Two and score high marks get through,” says S.S. Sachithanandam, vice-chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University.

According to officials, Tamil Nadu has not opted for CLAT for the School of Excellence as it has abolished entrance examinations for professional courses and also because it follows 69 per cent reservation.

In the absence of an entrance exam, students from vocational streams find their way into the law colleges as they score high marks in Plus Two, say faculty of the prestigious Madras Law College.

“There is a false opinion that survival is difficult for lawyers. Legal profession is definitely lucrative. The governments and companies are recruiting law officers in more numbers. In fact, the governments give the legal officers the salary of Group I officers. Moreover, legal graduates can also start law firms,” says V Kannadasan, special public prosecutor.

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