This article was submitted to us by Abhiroop Saha, a first year at NLSIU. If you ask Abhiroop about things he is really fond of, he would probably put drumming and Lebanese food on top of the list.
It was on June 29th that I first entered National Law School of India (or Law School, as we elitists call it). The campus isn’t the biggest or the prettiest but I felt incredibly relieved about whatever it was since I had just visited NUJS the previous week. The orientation which happened soon after kept on revolving around how we were the best law school and how one had to prove himself worthy of the college. A distinguished professor emphasized on the need of a 5+ GPA in order to get a good job. Another highlighted the importance of research papers. The moot culture and the various Rhodes scholars of NLS were also spoken about extensively. The only thing I could gather that day was how driven and competitive one had to be in order to survive in NLS.
I still remember how our CLAT rank was a good part of our identity in the first few weeks. NLS has a pretty amazing system of mentorship where every first year is assigned loads of mentors. One such mentor is the rank mentor (the second year who got the same CLAT rank as you, the year before). In fact, there is this informal thing called a rank family (All the students who have secured the same rank over the years). Some rank families are actually pretty close.
Almost every senior who came to us for ‘positive interactions’ asked for our rank for whatever reason and many of my batch mates (me included) went through the rank list so many times that chances were that one knew a person by his/her rank before even meeting said person. I knew a guy as rank two for an incredibly long time before he went on to become one of my closest friends.
It was around a month into law school that I realized how stressful the place was. Projects or ‘Research papers’ (the fancier term) were the source of some serious trauma. Right out of CBSE class 12, where the hardest thing I had to do for a school project was collecting pictures of ten different shaving cream brands (Business studies, LOL), 5000 word research papers were incredibly difficult. After a couple of all-nighters when you do submit your projects (two days after date of submission), you realize that your mid-terms start in three days. And our written papers are pretty hard too since they are based on an extremely vast course outline. Marks are rare commodities and it sucks since the pass mark is now 50 instead of the convenient 33% we all had in school. Needless to say, several people fail. Oh and lest I forget, ten days after mid-terms, we have to submit the second set of projects. Another ten days and you have end terms. It’s a stressful cycle.
There are people who do exceedingly well even under these circumstances. These are mostly people who start from day 1 (hopefully, I’ll be one of them next trimester) but then one is hardly ever systematic in college. Not in NLS anyway.
The previous paragraph might have been suggestive but let me clarify it further. There are very, very few things to look forward to in NLS. The place is suffocating most of the time but thankfully, some good things do happen here occasionally. Our sports fest ‘Spiritus’ was probably the only time in first year when I felt a sense of belonging to the college. Despite the ‘mandatory volunteering’ all the first years had to do, it was a very engaging experience. Getting into the football team is among the three best things I have done since college started. The NLS football team comprises some of the most chilled out people in the college and some of my favourite seniors. We do not win a lot; in fact, we hardly win, but it’s always a lot of fun playing with the team.
NLS organizes a rock fest called Strawberry Fields with several bands coming from all over India. Being part of the organizing committee gave me some memorable moments as I was involved with the show very closely. The privileges included chilling backstage with the headlining bands which was really cool. However, what I will always remember the fest for is that it was the first time I performed in college. Getting into the law school band as the drummer comes second in the three best things I mentioned earlier. There is a dearth of music in law school despite there being several talented musicians. This is another reason why I find the place suffocating. It is probably due to the excessive academic stress that one doesn’t devote much time to music or football (which in turn explains why we lose so much. Yes, our messed up course is the reason for everything that goes wrong.)
Sadly, Strawberry Fields is over and music in law school is dead till the next SF.
The sad reality of Law School was perfectly captured by the words of a very illustrious 5th year:| “Law School has defined what success should be in incredibly narrow terms.” I didn’t think about it much when he first told me this (it was the second month of law school) but a few months on, I realized how right he was. NLS cares about moots (we love Jessup and will rub it in every random person’s face that we have won it twice. Same goes for other international moots.), debates, the occasional ADR competition and maybe, just maybe, one or two MUNs.
Law School doesn’t care if you’re Jimmy Page or an incredible actor or whatever. You hardly get any kind of attention or support. Going to other cultural fests and taking part in competitions is a once in a blue moon kind of thing for us. The ideal law school stud is the one who moots, debates and gets good grades. You’re really a nobody if you’re just the captain of the football team. This has the negative effect of discouraging one from art or other extra-curricular activities barring the ones mentioned above. This is terribly sad as most people plan on pursuing their hobbies or picking up new interests in college whereas in NLS, the only thing you’ll probably pick up is info on how to prepare a moot memo.
While I might have painted a highly critical picture of our college (which is downright accurate, at least to me), there are the aspects which aren’t that bad. Coming to NLS has opened up my mind to several new ideas. Some of our subjects actually make you think, and the conclusions you might arrive at are quite interesting. These are illuminating viewpoints one would probably never have had without the exposure facilitated by the college. One of the coolest things about NLS is that there are several incredibly smart people, interactions with whom further the ideological and practical exposure I mentioned. In addition to this I have also come across a few people whom I can actually call an inspiration- there have been very few inspirational people in my life before college.
The best NLS has given me (apart from the 100% placement assurance) however, would be a few really good friends. It’s just been six months and I am really thankful that there are a couple of people out there in the college who are worthy of the word ‘bro’. Coupled with my hostel terrace, they make life at NLS bearable.
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