Are NLUs the IITs of Law?

NLUs and IITs

This is a question that I get asked often. There is no doubt that IITs have captured the imagination of Indians and foreigners, while NLUs would perhaps take some time to reach that status, but what other similarities and differences can be seen between them? National Law Universities (NLUs) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are elite institutions and share some commonalities, yet they differ significantly, not only in their academic focus but also in their impact on career trajectories.

IIT Delhi

Similarities between NLUs and IITs:

  1. Entrance Exams: The rigorous selection processes of NLUs and IITs are a testament to their commitment to academic excellence. NLUs conduct exams like AILET and CLAT, while IITs host the prestigious JEE Advanced. These entrance exams serve as gatekeepers, allowing only the brightest minds to enter these elite institutions. However, the there are differences that would be told below.
  2. Academic Rigor: Both NLUs and IITs are renowned for their demanding academic programs that push students beyond their limits. The emphasis is on developing critical thinking, analytical skills, and problem-solving abilities. This academic rigor is the crucible that shapes individuals into future leaders. This is specially true when we compare IITs with top NLUs like NLS, Bangalore or NALSAR, Hyderabad.
  3. Reputation: NLUs and IITs enjoy stellar reputations, acting as breeding grounds for the nation’s future leaders. Possessing a degree from either institution is perceived as a passport to success, opening doors to a world of opportunities. Many new NLUs may not be as famous, but with time the reputation will catch up with the quality of students and that of training.
NLU Bangalore

Differences between IIT and NLU:

  1. Field of Study: This one is obvious. However, sometimes the streams converge as many IITians do MBA and so do many from NLUs.
  2. Admission Test: There is significantly more competition in IITs, where 20 lakh+ students fight for around 17000 seats i.e. 1 seat for 130 applicants. In case of NLUs, it is a bit easier and about 70000 students compete for about 2500 seats which translates to one seat for about 28-29 students. There is also less competition due to CLAT exam being expensive and only being held in English.
  3. Job Market: The job market for IIT graduates typically outshines that for law graduates due to the higher demand for engineers and technologists in India. However, the legal job market is growing, with NLU graduates securing positions in law firms, corporate legal departments, and the judiciary.
  4. Funding: IITs benefit from central government funding, providing them with more resources to attract top-notch faculty and offer superior facilities. On the other hand, NLUs rely on funding from state governments, impacting their resource allocation. This is also reflected in their fees. IITs have lower fees in comaprison to NLU.
  5. Perception: The perception that IITs hold greater prestige is rooted in their longer existence and more established reputation. However, the gap between NLUs and IITs is narrowing, with NLUs increasingly recognized as equally prestigious institutions in the field of legal education.

In the ever-evolving landscape of Indian education, NLUs and IITs play pivotal roles in shaping the country’s future leaders. While both share commonalities in their commitment to academic excellence and reputation, their differences in fields of study, job markets, funding, and perception contribute to their unique identities. NLUs are undeniably rising in prominence, asserting their crucial role in producing some of India’s best legal minds. Thus, NLUs are in a league of themselves and in some respects may be called IITs of Law.

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