— N.R. Madhava Menon

Part I

Legal Education

  1. Towards a Draft National Policy on Legal Education

— N.R. Madhava Menon

  1. Legal Education Should Bridge the Gap Between Law and Justice

— Justice Rajendra Babu

  1. Globalisation and Legal Education:  Challenges Ahead

— Ranbir Singh

  1. Case for a Transnational Approach in  Legal Education

— Prabha Kotiswaran

  1. Commercial Law Teaching: Perspectives from a Practitioner

— Siddharth Raja

  1. Legal Education in India: The Role of the National Law Schools and Their Outcomes

— Mansi Sood

  1. Innovative Clinical Curriculum for Enabling Law Graduates to Become Practice-Ready

— N.R. Madhava Menon

  1. Transformation of Indian Legal Education

— N.R. Madhava Menon

Part II

Legal Profession and Legal Services

  1. Legal Services — 2020: A Snapshot

— Umakanth Varottil

  1. Practice of Law, Development and the Rule of Law

— Manoj Kumar

  1. “Pro Bono” Legal Services in India: An Opportunity to Bridge the Access to Justice Gap

— Nandan Kamath and R. Seshank Shekar

  1. Defining or Redefining “The Profession of Law” in India

— Ekta Bahl

  1. State of the Indian Legal Profession: Where can We Go from Here?

— Murali Neelakantan

  1. Legal Profession in India: Need for Radical Reforms

— Nandan Nelivigi

  1. Foreign Lawyers in India and Indian Lawyers Abroad: Prospects for Trade in Legal Services

— N.R. Madhava Menon

  1. State of the Legal Profession Today and Outlook for Tomorrow

— Ritvik Lukose

  1. Role of Our Bar Councils in a Time of Diminishing Brand Equity of the Legal System

— Elizabeth Seshadri

  1. The New-Age Lawyer — Entrepreneur: Enabled by Technology; Inspired by Law

— Indranil Choudhury

  1. Survivors or Escapists? A Case for Lawyers Against Corruption and “Pro Bono” Legal Clinic for Early-Stage Startups

— Roopa P. Doraswamy

  1. Continuing Legal Education and the Role of Bar Councils and Bar Associations

— N.R. Madhava Menon

Part III

Judiciary and Access to Justice

  1. Law as the Gatekeeper to Justice: Reflections on the Role of the Judiciary and Access to Justice

— Gowthaman Ranganathan

  1. Access to Justice: Role of the Judiciary and the Role of Law Reports

— Sumeet Malik

  1. Mediation: A Way to Deal with the Docket Crisis in India

— Laila T. Ollapally

  1. Ensuring Meaningful Access to Justice for Workers and Their Organisations

— Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan

  1. Thoughts on Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanisms: How can We Make It More Inclusive?

— Poornima Hatti

  1. Role of Judiciary, Judicial Delays and Access to Justice

— Harish Narasappa

  1. Ideas for Reducing Pendency in Courts

— V. Srinivasa Raghavan

  1. Importance of Legal Environment to India’s Development

— Pramod Rao and Vishank Menon

  1. Role of Judiciary and Access to Justice

— Sajan Poovayya

  1. Centre for Social Justice

— Nupur Sinha

  1. In Search of the Self: Less is More

– Shamnad Basheer

Subject Index


The seeds of the idea which became the National Law School of India University were planted sometime in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until 1986 that it was born thanks to an Act of the Karnataka Legislature. As with all laws, the NLSIU was just legal fiction until it had its first batch of students started classes in a converted bicycle shed in 1988. This book has followed a similar path since 2013, when a seminar was conducted to celebrate the silver jubilee of NLSIU. Several alumni participated in the seminar which covered a wide variety of topics but primarily focussed on the legal profession. Just as NLSIU has grown beyond the imagination of its founders, the talks at the seminar became chapters in this book over the last six years, thanks to the efforts of a few alumni and Dr N.R. Madhava Menon.

Apart from being a collection of talks and papers presented at the seminar, this is intended to be a sampler of the diversity of the NLSIU alumni. NLSIU was established with the objective of professionalising the legal profession and taking it into the 21st century. Perhaps the founders were naive in thinking that they could accurately predict the needs of the legal profession in the new millennium. How does one judge NLSIU? Did it fulfil the dreams of its founders? Since it has become a model for the many similar institutions, with many more in the process of being established all over the country, one can safely conclude that, being a model worth emulating, it has been a success and continues to be a model for future success. But what exactly has been replicated all over the country — the campus, administrative structures, syllabus and curriculum or pedagogy? It would be hard for NLSIU to claim that any of these is unique. Have the others been able to successfully replicate the outcomes as well?

Inspired by the words of a great Indian, perhaps the NLSIU is best described as an extraordinary institution created by ordinary people with great dreams. Even if the founders didn’t think so, they were dissenters, dissatisfied with the state of the legal profession and determined to make a radical change. This change was managed in such a way though that it had the support of the Bar Council and other stakeholders, as a change from within supported by all stakeholders. It is therefore not a surprise that NLSIU alumni, as the products of this idea, continue to carry forward this mission in their professional lives. Dr N.R. Madhava Menon often described his vision of the NLSIU alumni as “social engineers” and if he had looked closely at the professional and personal lives of his students, he would have found that a vast majority of them are social engineers, just that they didn’t insist that they have that title prefixed to their names.

The legal profession has recognised the contribution that NLSIU has made — among the lawyers who have been recognised as leading practitioners, NLSIU alumni figure in large numbers across all practice areas and specialisations. NLSIU alumni have been recognised at the Bar and appointed amicus curiae, judges of the High Courts[1] and subordinate judiciary[2], Additional Solicitor General[3], Additional Advocate General[4] and Senior Advocates[5] in India[6] and recognised overseas[7] as well. Many of these alumni have been involved in the most significant legal cases of our times — the Wadhwa Commission enquiring into the brutal killing of Rev. Staines, Jain Commission enquiring into the assassination of former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, Venkataswamy Commission enquiring into corruption charges against some leading politicians, convictions of the attackers of the Indian Parliament, the extradition of David Headley (the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attack), Nirbhaya[8], the Aadhar cases[9], TSR Subramanian[10], extrajudicial killings by police and paramilitary forces in Manipur, Novartis[11] or the Sodomy case[12]. There are others who have represented the underprivileged in cases which don’t make the headlines but have a huge impact on the lives of those who are routinely denied access to justice[13]. The landmark case of the “bar dancers”[14] where the successful constitutional challenge to the prohibition of women dancing in “dance bars” in Maharashtra was led by Nikhil Nayyar (1993) and Veena Gowda (1995) evokes memories of the famous Husna Bai case[15] that all lawyers have been taught. Rohit De (2004) devotes a whole chapter in his book[16] on the case of Husna Bai and the impact it had on Indian constitutional law[17]. There isn’t a leading Indian law firm where NLSIU alumni aren’t in key leadership roles and many alumni have answered the call of public service to become bureaucrats[18], diplomats[19] and senior police officers[20]. NLSIU alumni have also made their mark in many foreign jurisdictions[21] — as partners in leading international law firms and as respected scholars in many of the world’s leading educational institutions[22].

Despite NLSIU still being the model for future law schools in this country, there is the lazy criticism that it has not met its key objective — creating “social engineers” but instead, has been producing “fat cat” lawyers[23]. Good legal training could easily demolish this criticism as lacking nuance and making it an artificial binary. Perhaps the social engineers produced by NLSIU and their outstanding work haven’t been showcased in mainstream media. While this book is an effort to publish the diversity of views and experiences of NLSIU alumni, there are far too many whose work speaks for them and are a tribute to NLSIU.

Climate change is possibly the greatest threat to mankind[24] and surely a social engineer should be doing something about it. But how many would have heard of the outstanding work that Dr Lavanya Rajamani (1996)[25] and Sanjay Bavikatte (1999)[26] have been doing in the area of global climate change[27] Another global issue that faces us today, but as a threat more than ever is the growth of nationalism and antagonism towards refugees. Yamini Pande (1996) and Sarah Khan (1998) have worked with the UNHCR in Libya, Myanmar, Turkey, Kenya, Syria, Zambia, Tajikistan, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Thailand directly impacting millions of lives[28].

Diversity is a virtue in itself and we have begun to recognise it as such. Surely it must be a value that is treasured within the law schools, which have, over the years, become elitist institutions[29], inaccessible to the vast majority of Indians who find it extremely difficult to overcome the hurdles of various social, economic and physical disabilities. IDIA[30], a pioneering project founded by Prof. Shamnad Basheer (1999)[31] and Shishira Rudrappa (2003)[32] along with Justice Ruma Pal and Prof. M.P. Singh has had a significant impact in law schools across the country. Fundamentally, it changed the narrative from “we, the privileged, helping the underprivileged” to “all of us benefit from each other’s experiences and imagination”. Many NLSIU alumni, to whichever organisation or institution they belong, have been enthusiastic advocates of substantive equality and diversity.

NLSIU instilled a healthy sense of dissatisfaction with the existing system of law and justice but also confidence and motivation to be catalysts for change. Several alumni have made significant contributions at both the academic and grassroots level to law reform and access to justice. Prof. Prabha Kotiswaran’s (1995)[33], Dr Mrinal Satish’s (2000) work on criminal law reforms, Harish Narasappa’s (1996)[34] work with Daksh Foundation using empirical data to identify the causes for delayed justice, and the grassroots work of the Centre for Social Justice, founded by Nupur Sinha (1993)[35] and Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, one of India’s best known human rights activist groups where Arjun Sheoran (2011) is the National Organising Secretary, are just a few examples[36]. There are NLSIU alumni who have even taken up organic and collective farming[37], and founded an NGO to promote sports development.[38]

Of course other institutions have alumni who have made contributions to society and none of these, by themselves, is unique to NLSIU. After all, other law schools have been producing activists too and social activism is not new to India. While this may well be true, it does counter the criticism that NLSIU graduates have only aspired to be part of the rich elite without caring for the world. Then perhaps one should be reminded of the contributions of Lawrence Liang (1998)[39], Pranesh Prakash (2008)[40], Arghya Sengupta (2008)[41], Rahul Matthan (1994)[42] and Malavika Jayaram (1994)[43] — all widely acknowledged to be the leading intellectuals in the emerging area of technology and its impact on our everyday lives, particularly, our rights. The academic and activist work of Kajal Bhardwaj (1998), Prof. Shamnad Basheer (1998), Prof. Srividhya Ragavan (1994) and Dr Siva Thambisetty (1998) who have been championing the cause of universal access to healthcare, especially in the developing world, will be difficult to ignore.

For a long time it was felt that there was a dearth in India of serious academic research and writing on the Indian constitution and perhaps that motivated teachers at NLSIU to teach constitutional law in such a way that it became fundamental to their life on campus[44]. While it did lead to some unintended consequences — students testing their constitutional rights against the institution, it ensured that most NLSIU graduates developed a love for constitutional law. While NLSIU expected its graduates to know the constitution, many have added to our knowledge of it and given us such diverse perspectives that we have truly begun to explore it much more and even reimagine it. Rohit De’s essay[45] on B.R. Ambedkar’s little known life as a lawyer and his contribution beyond his role as the chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian constitution is an example of outstanding research that showcases the contribution that “social justice lawyers”, as Dr Menon describes them, can make to society but also highlights how our institutions took us away from a path that the constitution had paved for India. Now, a constitutional law section of a good law library will be dominated by some outstanding work by NLSIU alumni — Arghya Sengupta (2008)[46],Gautam Bhatia (2011)[47], Tarunabh Khaitan (2004)[48], Rohit De (2004)[49], Prof. Sudhir Krishnaswamy (1998)[50], Menaka Guruswamy (1997)[51] and Arun Thiruvengadam (1995)[52], to name a few. Perhaps the best compilation of essays on the Indian constitution is The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution[53] in which NLSIU alumni have contributed to virtually every one of the eight parts of the book.

It would surprise many who have read the writings of Kavitha Rao (1994)[54], Krishna Udayasankar (2000)[55] and Vinay Sitapati (2008)[56] that they are alumni of NLSIU. Krishna’s retelling of Indian and pan Asian histo-mythology shows remarkable research blended with a healthy imagination, and Vinay’s book gives us an excellent perspective of a significant person and time in modern Indian history. Even if those who conceived the NLSIU couldn’t have imagined this, they should be proud of this windfall.

One of Dr Menon’s most difficult and unfinished projects was the creation of a framework for continuing legal education for lawyers and judges[57]. While the National Judicial Academy was established in Bhopal under his leadership and the model was quickly replicated by many States, mandatory continuing legal education for lawyers is yet to become a reality in India. Even before the National Judicial Academy was functional, Sachin Malhan (2002)[58], Bhavin Patel (2002)[59], Anthony Alex (1998)[60], Indranil Choudhry (1994)[61] and Sumeet Malik (1999)[62] found expression for Dr Menon’s spirit in their pioneering entrepreneurial ventures.

Dr Menon paraphrased his vision of NLSIU as “Harvard of the East”[63] and he would have been delighted by the impact that its alumni have had in world affairs, “beyond narrow domestic walls”[64]. In addition to the careers of Ramanand Mundkur (1994) and Vikram Raghavan (1997)[65] at the IFC and the World Bank, Yamini Pande (1996) and Sarah Khan (1998) at the UNHCR, Priya Pillai (2000) at the ICRC, Tur-Od Lkhagvajav[66] (1997) at the Asia Europe Peoples’ Forum (AEPF), Odbayar Dorj (1997) becoming a Judge of the Constitutional Court of Mongolia, Abdul Hakim (1999) becoming a Judge of the High Court of Zanzibar, Choining Dorji (1999) a Member of Parliament at the Nation Council of Bhutan, is the inspiring story of Abraham Biar Deng Biar (1993) who, after graduating from NLSIU, fought for the independence of South Sudan and is involved in the drafting of its Constitution. The story of Ali Hussain (2006) is yet to play out fully — he is a member of the People’s Majlis, Parliament of the Maldives and came very close to being the Vice-President of that country.

To use a thought borrowed from Stephen Fry[67], Institutions, like people ought to be verbs, not nouns — the names and titles we give ourselves are not us; what we do defines us. If that is true, then NLSIU ought to be judged by the work and achievements of its alumni. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, not the replication or wide publication of its recipe. Still, it is heartening when the NLSIU is casually referred to as “the law school” or just “law school” — surely NLSIU did something right all these years. This book is merely a collection of thoughts of some of the alumni of the NLSIU but it should give readers a sense of the institution and the impact it has had over the last 25 years and perhaps, a chance to imagine what more the alumni of “the law school” can do, in the years to come. NLSIU is perhaps jaded and a bit frayed at the edges[68] but if those who lead it can reimagine “an idea of a law school” for the next 25 years, it will be everything that it was imagined to be when it was conceived.

[1]  Shekhar B. Saraf (1996), Sunil Dutt Yadav (1996) and C. Saravanan (1994).

[2]  Michael Lalrinsanga Sailo (2004) was the youngest Chief Judicial Magistrate in Mizoram. Also Sunil Singh (2003), Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh and Anish Garg (1999).

[3]  Vikramjit Banerjee (1997).

[4] Sajan Poovayya (1996) and Aditya Sondhi (1998).

[5]  The criticism by the Law Commission of India, 184th Report on Legal Education and Professional Training and the K.T. Thomas Report seems premature. See, Mansi Sood, pp. 74–75 infra. For an explanation for the less than expected numbers of NLSIU alumni joining the Bar, see, Mansi Sood, p. 90 infra.

[6]  Akshay Bhan (1998) was the first NLSIU graduate to be designated Senior Advocate in 2014. He was followed by Dayan Krishnan (1993), Sajan Poovayya (1996), Aditya Sodhi (1998), Shashi Kiran Shetty (1997), Vikramjit Banerjee (1997), Arun Kumar (1994), Srinivasa Raghavan (1996), Nikhil Nayyar (1993), Anitha Shenoy (1995), Siddhartha Dave (1997), Menaka Guruswamy (1997) and Gopal Sankaranarayanan (2001).

[7] Dipen Sabarwal (2001) has been designated Queen’s Counsel (QC). Thomas Sebastian (1999) and Niranjan Venkatesan (2010) are well-known barristers.

[8]  Dayan Krishnan, Senior Advocate (1993) took on the case for the prosecution on a pro bono basis.

[9]  K.S. Puttaswamy (Aadhaar-5 J.) v. Union of India, (2019) 1 SCC 1. Sajan Poovayya (1996) and Gopal Shankarnarayanan (2001) were recognised in the judgment for their contribution to the Court.

[10] T.S.R. Subramanian v. Union of India, (2013) 15 SCC 732 where Dr Menaka Guruswamy (1997) addressed the Supreme Court on the issue of security of tenure for bureaucrats to insulate them from political influence.

[11] Novartis AG v. Union of India, (2013) 6 SCC 1 which confirmed the use of TRIPS flexibilities is a landmark judgment that is being followed in many developing countries. Prof. Shamnad Basheer (1998) as amicus curiae provided strong academic basis for the decision and his views and submissions to the Supreme Court are extensively quoted in the judgment.

[12] Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 10 SCC 1 where Dr Menaka Guruswamy (1997), Arundhati Katju (2005) and Pritha Srikumar Iyer (2005) represented many of the successful petitioners.

[13] Jawahar Raja (1999) and Sanjoy Ghose (1996) represent clients pro bono and have been widely recognised for their work.

[14] Indian Hotel & Restaurant Assn. (AHAR) v. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 3 SCC 429.

[15] See, Shama Bai v. State of U.P., 1958 SCC OnLine All 334: AIR 1959 All 57.

[16] A People’s Constitution: The Everyday Life of Law in the Indian Republic (2018).

[17] See also, < of-tawaifs-to-indias-freedom-struggle> on the contribution of the tawaifs to India’s freedom struggle.

[18] See for example, Srikar Sridhar (1997) who was deputed to the UIDAI while the Aadhaar project was conceptualised and during its initial implementation phase; Cyril Darlong Diengdoh (2008); Ananya Chandra (2009) working on Ayushman Bharat, a much publicised universal health insurance project in India; and Sonal Sood (2012). See, Mansi Sood, p. 88 infra on the motivation for public service that NLSIU and other similar law schools seems to have seeded in its students.

[19] Aparna Ray (2004), Gitanjali Brandon (2007), Seema Pujani (2011) and Saketa Musinipally (2011).

[20] Aparna Kumar (1999) and Anoop Kuruvilla John (2002). Pratik Karki (2013) is a member of the Nepal Foreign Service.

[21] Anjolie Singh (1997) at various public international law dispute resolution fora like the World Court and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; and Priyadarshini Narayanan (2002), Appeals Counsel at the International Criminal Court.

[22] Ashoka University, Azim Premji University, Columbia, London School of Economics, National University of Singapore, Oxford, Princeton, Texas A&M, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and various National Law Universities in India, to name a few. Many alumni have contributed to seminal works like A Ramaiya: Guide to the Companies Act (18th Edn.) and CR Datta on Company Law (2016).

[23] See, N.R. Madhava Menon, p. 121 infra.

[24] See, Yuval Noah Hariri, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018).

[25] See, <> for books that she has authored, co-authored and edited.

[26] Stewarding the Earth: Rethinking Property and the Emergence of Biocultural Rights (OUP 2014) was the first book to comprehensively discuss the emergence of biocultural rights in environmental law.

[27] Also see, Loveleen Bhullar (2003) Co-Ed, The Right to Sanitation in India: Critical Perspectives (OUP 2019). She has also published papers addressing the pressing health issue of antimicrobial resistance.

[28] See also, the work of Priya Pillai (2000) on international humanitarian law at the Red Cross. For more information see, Also Asmita Basu (1998), Programme Director at Amnesty International in India and Meghna Abraham (1998), Co-Director, Global Thematic Issues at Amnesty International in London.

[29] See for example, the criticism in the K.T. Thomas Report in Mansi Sood, p. 75 infra.

[30] Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access. See, for more information.

[31] Widely acclaimed expert on intellectual property law and awarded the Infosys Prize for Humanities in 2014.

[32] Co-founded the Clutch Group, a pioneer in Legal Process Outsourcing and served as Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister of Karnataka from 2014–2017.

[33] Professor of Law & Social Justice, Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London. Her extensive research and publications are listed at <>.

[34] Rule of Law in India: A Quest for Reason (2018). See also, See also, Harish Narasappa, “Role of Judiciary, Judicial Delays and Access to Justice”, p. 293 infra. Harish’s view that rampant public interest litigation which is prioritised by the High Courts and the Supreme Court has contributed to denial of access is also supported by Anuj Bhuwania (2000), Courting the People: Public Interest Litigation in Post-Emergency India (Cambridge University Press 2016) which is an excellent study of the ills of PILs. Part III of this book has some other recommendations for reforming access to justice.

[35] For a brief summary of the work of the Centre for Social Justice, see, Nupur Sinha, “Centre for Social Justice”, p. 335 infra.

[36] It is also worth recognising the work of Sanjoy Ghose (1996) and Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan (1993) who represent workers and Veena Gowda (1995) and Sonal Mattoo (1996) who represent and counsel underprivileged women and are recognised champions of gender equality and diversity and Bharat Jairaj (1994), Director of World Resources Institute. Also, Sandeep Farias (1996), the founder of Elevar Equity, which encourages entrepreneurial vibrancy of low income communities.

[37] See for example, Aparna Rajagopal (1995) and her work at beejom in NOIDA and Arati Venkat’s (1997) Earth Kitchen on the outskirts of Bangalore.

[38] Nandan Kamath (1999) co-founded the Go Sports Foundation to help Indian athletes win in the global arena. See also, Nandan Kamath (Ed.), Go! : Indian Sporting Transformation (2019). In the arts see, Diviya Kapur’s (1994) Literati, a wonderful bookshop and cafe that also screens classic movies in Goa, <>. Diviya is also currently involved in a mobile library project for children, Bebook. Bebook takes books to children who have little or no access to books. Ruchika Chanana (1995) is an actress and writer, known for Framed (2007), Jaanisaar (2015) and Made in Heaven (2019) and author of Women of Pure Wonder: Struggle Survival Success (2013), Women of Pure Wonder: Vision, Valour, Victory (2016) and Neha and the Nose (2019).

[39] Founded the Alternative Law Forum ( and the Centre for Internet and Society (, both NGOs have carved a niche for themselves with the outstanding work that they have been doing. See, Gowthaman Ranganathan, pp. 261–263 for some information on the work of ALF.

[40] Centre for Internet and Society, arguably the first independent think tank researching technology issues in society.

[41] Policy Director of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, perhaps the most well-known think tank in India that has been advising the government on various niche areas of law and policy including privacy law. His recent books Independence and Accountability of the Higher Indian Judiciary (2019) and Appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court of India: Transparency, Accountability and Independence (2019) have sought to address a key issue in India’s governance structure that has evolved beyond the imagination of the framers of our Constitution.

[42] Technology lawyer whose weekly column “Lex Machina” is extremely popular for asking difficult questions and raising issues on cutting edge technology and its implications for us. He was included in Mint’s list of “25 people who matter in Indian e-commerce” and is the author of Privacy 3.0: Unlocking our Data-Driven Future (Harper Collins 2018). He is also one of the founders, with Karan Singh (1995) and Sridhar Gorthi (1995) of Trilegal, a leading national law firm.

[43] The inaugural Executive Director of Digital Asia Hub, a Hong Kong-based independent research think tank incubated by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

[44]  In the days before the internet, blogs and chat rooms, the space on a corridor wall for students to post their thoughts was labelled 19(1)a.

[45] “Lawyering as Politics: The Legal Career of Dr. Ambedkar, Bar-at-Law” in Suraj Yengde and Anand Telbumbe (Eds.), The Radical in Ambedkar: Critical Reflections (Penguin, London and New Delhi 2019) 125.

[46] See supra n. 40.

[47] Offend, Shock or Disturb: Free Speech under the Indian Constitution (Oxford University Press 2018) and The Transformative Constitution: A Radical Biography in Nine Acts (2019). He was also recognised in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List.

[48] A Theory of Discrimination Law (2015).

[49] A People’s Constitution: The Everyday Life of Law in the Indian Republic (2018).

[50] Democracy and Constitutionalism in India (Oxford University Press 2009).

[51] “Constitution-Making in South Asia” in Handbook on Comparative Constitutional Law (2018);  “Crafting Constitutional Values: An Essay on the Supreme Court of India” in An Inquiry into the Existence of Global Values (Hart Publishing/Bloomsbury 2015) and Founding Moments in Constitutionalism (Hart Publishing/Bloomsbury 2019). She has also been closely involved in the Constitution-making process in Nepal and South Sudan.

[52] The Constitution of India: A Contextual Analysis (Bloomsbury 2017).

[53] (OUP 2016).

[54] Author of The Librarian (2017) and Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Journalism (2014).

[55] Author of The Aryavarta Chronicles, 3, Objects of Affection, The Immortal and The Beast.

[56] Half – Lion (OUP 2016). Also, Ganeev Dhillon (2009) and her role as the Curator (Exhibitions) of the Partition Museum, a pioneering project in Amritsar to showcase an important event in Indian history.

[57] See, N.R. Madhava Menon, p. 251 infra.

[58] Legal & Edu-tech Entrepreneur, Co-Founder & CEO at HumLab and former Executive Director of Ashoka Changemakers. He is also one of the founders of the Agami project — a movement to create radically better systems of law and justice by unleashing the power of millions of changemakers.

[59] Co-founder of Rainmaker, a pioneering learning and training company for corporates and lawyers.

[60] Co-founder of Rainmaker, a pioneering learning and training company for corporates and lawyers.

[61] Founder and CEO of Lexplosion, the pioneering legal tech company in the compliance and risk management sector.

[62] Director of Eastern Book Company, one of India’s leading publishers of law books who not only digitised the impressive catalogue but also expanded its product and service offerings making it one of the most popular legal resources for Indian law.

[63] See, N.R. Madhava Menon, p. 117 infra.

[64] Rabindranath Tagore, “Where the Mind is Without Fear”.

[65] He was conferred the BrettonWoods@75 award for “outstanding commitment and leadership skills in preserving the Bank’s history throughout one’s career”.

[66] Steering Committee Member at Open Government Partnership, Asia Democracy Network and, Co-Founder of Transparency International – Mongolia National Chapter.

[67] “We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing — an actor, a writer — I am a person who does things — I write, I act — and I never know what I’m going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.” Actor, satirist, author, activist and modern philosopher. See,

[68] See, Mansi Sood, p. 95 infra.


Legal education reforms are propelled by several forces in democratic countries governed by rule of law. Among them are changes in the legal and judicial systems, demands of the legal market, developments in the economy, society and technological environment, as well as perceptions on the role of law and lawyers in maximising justice in society. A new factor which emerged in the recent past in this regard is the collective interest of the law school alumni to make their alma mater a leader in directing change which they thought desirable on the basis of their own experiences in the profession.

On the occasion of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the establishment of the first National Law School of India University, Bangalore, selected students of the first few batches of NLSIU, now settled in legal practice across the world, decided to organise the first-ever Alumni Conference to discuss the state of the profession in 2020 and to identify strategies by which they can help their institution prepare for the challenges ahead. The Law School and a sister institution pioneered by the Founder of NLSIU, Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training (MILAT) welcomed the initiative of the Alumni Association and co-sponsored the event at the Bangalore Campus on 25 April 2015. This is the genesis of an academic enterprise which not only attracted past graduates of NLSIU from far and wide to the Banglore Conference but also culminated in putting together the presentations participants made in a book format for legal educators everywhere to reflect and act upon. It took three years of continuous effort on the part of Pramod Rao (1996), Siddharth Raja (1997), Sundari R. Pasupathi (1993), and Sumeet Malik (1999) to get the presenters at the conference convert their notes into papers for publication and to get them edited and updated with later developments. The volume in hand is the product of the labour of several students and faculty of the National Law School of India University and they deserve the appreciation of all concerned.

On my part, I feel happy to write this introduction to what I consider to be possible directions in which legal education may change in the next few years, despite a mindset among a section of the regulators inimical to any change! Spread across several articles in the volume, one can see a concern for lack of a National Policy on Legal Education, widening gap between access to justice needs and availability of a viable programme of legal services to all sections of society, over-reliance on long-drawn litigation for dispute resolution in preference to mediation and arbitration, lack of skills training in law curriculum to make law graduates practice-ready, non-institutionalisation of pro bono work among legal practitioners, near absence of continuing legal education for professional development, inadequate preparation for progressive changes in curriculum development and instructional methods, poor research output from law schools, neglect of ethical standards in the profession and inability of the profession to service the legal needs of a fast-developing economy. It is sad to note that while professional legal education started attracting talented high school graduates in large numbers, the systems in place are unable to offer an intellectually challenging and professionally significant curriculum for lack of competent teachers in adequate numbers and absence of a flexible regulatory mechanism promoting innovation and experimentation. Neither the professional bodies nor the government seem to give any attention to upgrade the systems to suit current requirements. In this depressing scenario, this collection of articles hopefully will make a difference in the attitude of professional leadership and governmental authorities.

The fact that the first step towards reform has now been taken by those who graduated under the Five-Year Integrated LLB programme and have seen the opportunities and challenges emerging in the new legal environment globally, gives hope to believe that their efforts will not go in vain as they represent the new generation professional voice difficult to be ignored. Law teachers as a class have little clout in deciding on how legal education has to be organised. Nor have they the freedom to influence decision-makers in regulatory bodies. This is the tragedy of the situation obtaining in the country in the matter of higher education generally and legal education in particular. Having lived and worked through the system for over half a century, my only hope today is on the students, past and present, to take the challenge in their hands and, with guidance of reform-minded elders, compel the authorities to adopt changes needed here and now.

Let professional legal education be separated from general, public legal education and its content and methods be changed to promote the constitutional goal of justice, social, economic and political. Let complete academic freedom be given to professional schools to innovate, experiment and evolve competitive standards towards academic and professional excellence. Let alumni representatives be part of the academic and executive councils of law universities and institutional links be established with the profession through them. Let continuing education be made mandatory for all professionals at periodic intervals to ensure minimum standards in service delivery and make them competitive in global legal markets. Let there be an end to lawyers remaining unemployed when a large section of society still remains unable to access legal services!

There are today 23 National Law Universities in the country, by and large modelled on the pattern of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, imparting professional legal education under the Five-Year Integrated LLB programme. There are an equal number or more of private universities with law schools similarly organised competing with National Law Universities for higher levels of academic excellence. The potential they together offer is indeed great to make India a destination for quality legal education at a comparatively lesser cost. Such an international student body will further enrich the standards of teaching and research and open up prospects for transnational legal practice, if imaginatively developed.

Law is an instrument for globalisation in trade and investment as well as for strengthening international relations and institutions under rule of law. India with its large population, stable democracy and fastest-growing economy is bound to play a decisive role in the shaping of international law and practice in the 21st century. It is in this context, readers of the essays in this book should assess proposals for reforms in legal education and give it the attention it deserves for building a future for the country and its people.

One should not forget the ancient Indian adage ‘Dharmo Rakshathi Rakshitaha’, which roughly translated, means that if you protect Dharma (rule of law), Dharma will protect you. Ancient Indian jurisprudence has a universal appeal even today as it reflects the idea of world order through peaceful co-existence and fraternity based on Dharma. Let the new agenda of legal education blend the old and the new for an acceptable legal order based on justice, social, economic and political.

— Prof. (Dr) N.R. Madhava Menon

Hon. Director

Kerala Bar Council M.K. Nambyar Academy
for Continuing Legal Education

Kochi, Kerala

October 2018

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One comment

  • This book I am sure will serve as an inspiration for all the national law schools in the country and encourage the law students to work for betterment of our civilization.

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