Disclaimer – No information contained in this post is intended to be a substitute for actually attending college and obtaining a first-hand experience.
At the outset, congratulations on having completed two months as the youngest members of the oldest law college in all of Asia! (Sufficient time to get used to the fact that the alma mater of doyens of bar and bench, social reformers, policy-makers, and even a reigning Bollywood star and your home for the next 5 years is one-and-a-half buildings.) Surely by now the initial excitement, awe and shock must have given way to settled routines and the sheer volume of activities happening in college all the time no longer overwhelms you. Hopefully, you are working diligently for societies and committees (read: marketing) and have developed an acquaintance with Lord Denning (very crucial).
There must be plenty of questions occupying your mind-space at the moment (naturally) – about life in law school, what to do, how to do it, what not to do. Through this and subsequent posts, I will try to address some of these concerns.
I. I’ll begin with some myth busting.
Each of you was guided by distinct motivations to take up the study of law – a chance meeting with a superstar lawyer/judge; familial connections; a desire for fame + an income rivalling Vanuatu’s GDP… Now that you have joined law school, these dreams seem closer to fulfilment than they have ever previously been. Starry-eyed and with hearts brimming with hopes and passions, it is only a matter of months before you take the legal fraternity by storm and change the world…
But alas! If only Suits was a reliable guide. If only cases could be won by thunderous rhetoric and syrupy entreaties. If only the legal and illegal could be cleanly delineated. If only the path to Themis was peril-free.
In reality, the study and practice of law means wading through a gazillion laws and precedents, making sense of judgments running well into 500 pages or more and keeping pace with a reading list that grows exponentially. It means researching obscure propositions, stressing over formatting and punctuation, and developing a love-hate relationship with Latin. Most painfully, it means realizing, admitting and rectifying one’s woeful ignorance (of nearly everything).
The duration of the course isn’t of particular help. Joining straight after grade 12 means committing five years. That’s just about the time it will take your non-law-student friends to graduate, complete their post-graduation and perhaps even commence doctoral studies. (Well, barring MBBS students, but they won’t get done by 2090 either…).
II. Admittedly, things seem daunting. But be rest assured, you do not need to reconsider your decision. Why do I say so?
Firstly, the study of law is a reward in itself. Its cross-disciplinary nature ensures learning and training on steroids. Here, in addition to law, you will be introduced to a wide range of subjects and topics – literature, economics, history, sociology, philosophy and so on. Resultantly, you will acquire knowledge and skills that will stand you in good stead whether or not you ultimately pursue law as a profession.
Secondly, law school has its own inimitable brand of fun. A dizzying number of extra-curricular activities take place year-round – debates, moots, quizzes, MUNs, sports fests, cultural fests, study tours, writing contests, judgment deliberation competitions, meditation-negotiation competitions – for you to demonstrate your talents and make friends or just let off some steam.
And lastly, these are very exciting times to study law. World over, societies are in a state of flux. Rising hyper-nationalism, declining tolerance, worsening refugee crises are raising critical legal and moral questions. Dicey’s Rule and Montesquieu’s Theory are shedding their academic fetters. Constitutional concerns are being agitated and adjudicated with fervour. Today, opportunities to learn, analyse and criticize are Brobdingnagian.
III. The way ahead
Barring any sudden change of plans/untoward happening, it is confirmed that you will spend your next 5 years here. And while 5 years seem like an eternity, looked at differently, the entirety of your law-school-life is 60 months. In these 60 months, you will have to juggle many, many things – slogging away for academic excellence, committee commitments, debates, moots, internships, prep for further studies/careers, besides maintaining a social life. Tempus fugit!
In my first year, everybody gave the same description of college – “GLC is a buffet.” “Interesting analogy“, I had mused. 4 years and 4 months later, the solid underlying logic has become clear. As an institution, GLC has everything you need. But true buffet style, you will have to go out there and get it for yourself. So work hard; don’t squander the freedom this institution will give you. And when in doubt, ask – whether it is professors or seniors or college staff, help is just a (polite) query away.
–Preeti Sahai, V-V
 Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the fact that academic performance plays a crucial role in literally everything – the internship (and later, employment) opportunities available to you, the success of your LL.M applications, your eligibility for fellowships, scholarships and awards – much more than any other achievements.