Whether to choose 3 years LLB or 5 years BA LLB ?
In my long teaching career I have experienced one common Law Career dilemma among most of the students: The selection of a career path after school days are over. I always wonder what could be the source of this dilemma. Answers are many, but the starkest one is the absence of a clear goal among the students. Ironically many of them may choose their career in an unplanned way, as if by a flip of a coin.
In the backdrop of it, it is pertinent to discuss whether to choose 3-year LLB or 5-year BA LLB once a student decides to study law and choose to pursue that glorious profession. Those who are already graduates or about to pass out of their college should not have any qualms about the three year course. Because at that point of time if a student thinks about high profile institutions like NLS, NALSAR, NUJS or ILS and prepare to join a five-year law course then he or she would make a crucial mistake in career choice. This would lead to loss of two or more very crucial years in this very competitive world.
On the other hand, if a student, after XIIth, thinks of completing graduation from other streams and join law, he or she would also compromise on the time (spent to complete the course). There is no logic of doing two different courses of three year each while the same can be earned in five years. And it is quite possible that if one chooses the graduation from other streams first, he or she may quite easily get deviated from the stated goal of taking up law as career. Here also the loss of one or more very crucial years in this in the beginning of professional life might have a telling effect on a student’s career.
Having said that, I must put a caveat. Whether you do a 3-year LLB or 5-year BA LLB, your quality as a law professional will not vary much.
In both segments, there are good colleges and from both the segments there are established professionals. So the question “How good is a three-year LLB with respect to a 5-year integrated law programme” may not be very relevant in deciding the course of action vis-à-vis 3-year LLB and 5-year BA LLB. For example one of the most famous law college in India ILS, Pune has both B.A.LL.B. (five-year law degree course after XII or equivalent) and LL.B. (three-year law degree course after graduation), for a law profession aspirant, both are equally coveted courses and host of successful law professionals who are alumni of this college from one of these two programmes have proved their mettle in the profession.
Same is the case if we compare 3 year programme from Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai University or Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and a 5-year integrated law programme at NLS, NALSAR or NUJS. A 3 year LL.B. Programme from RGSOIPL, IIT Kharagpur specializes in Law and Intellectual Property Rights and is a much sought after course among the students.
However, on two counts these two definitely differ. The first one is placement and the second one is admission process. It will be prudent to take these two factors in deciding which way to go.
Law Career: Placement trends
Like all institutes in the undergraduate programmes, the institutes offering the five-year BA LLB, particularly at the NLUs have a well-oiled professional placement programme and have placed their graduates in national and international law firms, corporate legal departments and consulting companies, in much better way. However, the institutes offering the three-year LLB are mostly the traditional universities and do not have a philosophy of providing any placement like service. It is important in this context is to aim for and secure admission to a top law school/department to get a top class education and learning experience.
Law Career: Admissions System
The admission process to law programmes differs in both the segments. In undergraduate segment there are All India entrance exams like CLAT for National Law Universities (NLU), AILET, and SET etc. for admission into various five year LLB pprogrammes. Very few, barring ILS Pune and GLC Mumbai among the top ones, offer direct admission on the basis of XII marks. On the other hand most of law colleges offering 3 year programme admit students on merit, that is, marks in qualifying examinations. However, a few universities like Delhi University conduct LLB Entrance Tests for admission in LLB programme.
Most new generation law schools including the National Law Universities (NLUs) have been set up in two decades and have been offering only 5-year LLB course. Most of these law institutes have excluded the three-year LLB from their offerings, but offer specialization programmes to graduates and also offer LLM course at postgraduate level.
So the pros and cons are to be weighed if one has to really feel tentative about 5-year integrated LLB course vis-à-vis a 3-year LLB course. Else, it is important to decide whether to choose law as career or not and then choose 3-year LLB or 5-year BA LLB course as it comes your way.