Prof. Shamnad Basheer (Ministry of HRD Chaired Professor in IP Law) led a team of four NUJS students Diptoshree Basu, Radhika Sarkar, Javedur Rahman and Tanuj Kalia to conduct the first IDIA pilot project at Pelling, Sikkim. The plan was to interact with the students of the only government school at Pelling about career options in law, about CLAT and about National Law Schools.
The stand taken by the concept note to IDIA that there is a lamentable lack of awareness about law as a career amongst low income students in small towns, rural areas and other non-affluent backgrounds stood vindicated. We realized that none of the students had heard of the National Law Schools or thought about a career in law. Even the teachers seemed unaware about law as a career option.
In order to select intelligent students with an aptitude for law we gave them a 30 minute aptitude test. The test was heavy on logic reasoning. The exclusion of questions of English and General Knowledge had been a conscious and deliberate decision.
We then prepared a list of top scorers from each stream and discussed their general academic performance and economic backgrounds with the school principal and teachers. This was followed by an exclusive session with the students, explaining to them what the National Law Schools and the legal profession had to offer. We also spoke to them about life as a law student at NUJS.
At the end of the day, eight students were selected based on the aptitude test’s results, the student’s interest towards law, their financial background and academic records (based on their teachers’ inputs).
During our discussions with them, monetary issues came up as well. Some students asked whether IDIA would charge them any money for the CLAT coaching we would provide. Others worried over the expense of legal education at National Law Schools*.
The Pelling students have, since then, constantly been in touch with our team. We have visited Pelling again in June 2010. The students have also been provided training materials for CLAT 2011. The selected 8 students will make a fully funded trip to Kolkata during early July 2010, to undertake a week long intensive coaching at the IMS Training centre in Kolkata.
If all goes well, we can all hope that a legal Phunsukh Wangdu will come out of a National Law University soon. Afterall, the 400 patents of the original Phunsukh Wangdu will need a good patent attorney!
* It is good to see that lawyers are contributing towards this cause. Mr. Krishnamurthy of Krishnamurthy and Co. has contributed about Rs. 1 lakh. Karan Singh and Sridhar Gorti (both Partners at Trilegal) have contributed Rs. 5 lakhs between themselves. Ameet and Monica Dutta of Luthra have also contributed to the funding. Ashish Ahuja a senior partner at Wadia Gandhy was amongst the first contributors. However, we hope that other law firms and lawyers too will do their bit towards the IDIA project. Here is how you can help.