Elite national law universities have captured the corporate law world. Do lawyers from the lower-rung schools stand a chance? Rebecca Abraham takes a look at the challenges for aspiring lawyers

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), the online screening test used by India’s 19 national law colleges and around 25 other law schools, triggered petitions in high courts across the country this year.

One such petition filed by the Supreme Court argued that the students’ fundamental right to equality had been violated as technical glitches during the test had caused them to lose time.

Hurdles such as this will be the first of many that confront the vast majority of those who aspire for a career in law.

HIGHLY COVETED

For a start, the odds of winning a place at one of India’s elite law schools are extremely low as a high score in CLAT, taken by 54,000 students this year, is necessary.

India’s most prestigious law school, National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, admits only 80 students each year to its five-year undergraduate programme. The remaining 18 National Law Schools together admit around 2,300 students, which means that the vast majority have to settle for what are considered second and third tier law schools.

Approximately 1,400 law schools of varying quality dot the country, following a veritable explosion in the number of law schools over the past two decades. Over 60% of the 1,390 law schools recognized by the Bar Council of India were set up after 2000, according to a 2014 Harvard Law School research paper.

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