A degree in Legal Studies—here’s why it will be the next big thing in India

What is common between a paralegal, a legal secretary, a law clerk, a mediator, a compliance specialist, and even a court reporter or a policy professional? They’re all part of the extensive network of people involved in legal systems—and yet, these highly trained individuals, invaluable to legal services and legal processes, are not required to take the Bar Exam. Interesting, isn’t it?

When you think of careers in law, the classic image that springs to mind is that of a courtroom—judges and lawyers dressed in their traditional white bands, black coats and gowns. But have you ever wondered just what all goes behind the workings of our systems of justice—or who all?

Law has famously been a very rewarding and challenging line of work. But there’s a lot more to know and learn about law. Becoming a lawyer is not the only option.

A host of other possibilities are emerging today. You can be a part of this new chapter in the evolution of the legal field in India with the first-ever B.A. (Hons.) Legal Studies programme in the country, introduced by Jindal Global Law School.

The legal industry is growing, and so are the allied jobs

The turn of the 21st century welcomed tremendous opportunities in every sphere. That of law, has grown exponentially on account of various global changes from the effects of globalisation, economic growth, developments in societies to technological advancements. These transformations have brought with them a plethora of possibilities in the legal field. First, came the boom of lawyers. As the legal profession caught the world’s fancy, more people started aspiring for lucrative legal careers.

Today, as the legal industry continues to thrive, the need for highly skilled, talented, versatile professionals to master different roles is growing. Beyond qualified lawyers, people with a variety of skills are in demand. Professionals with different experiences and educational qualifications will be needed to meet new and emerging roles, from paralegals to policy professionals.

Paralegals and legal assistants serve as a lawyer’s right hand. They work in law firms, courts, legal departments or alongside independent lawyers to assist with legal research, drafting and filing legal documents, and the gamut of responsibilities that come along with helping lawyers prepare for cases, hearings, trials, and so on. This is one of the fastest-growing professions across the globe.

Young people, especially in India, have a rare opportunity here to join this growing force. You can get ahead of the curve with a Legal Studies degree.

Legal Studies is set to be game-changer in India, already a major success in other countries

Various leading universities, especially in the US, offer similar courses due to a phenomenal market demand. This has resulted in sustainable employment opportunities for students, and also an elevation in the stature of these jobs. Top institutions like Northwestern University or UC Berkeley have been offering undergraduate Legal Studies programmes in their law schools.

Recognising the growth pattern of similar courses across the world and the demand in the industry, JGLS introduced the B.A. (Hons.) Legal Studies in India. As our country is steadily developing in prominence in the international domain, particularly with a large population of youth, this platform for growth is a great opportunity for students. With the boom of our legal industry, social and non-government sector and even civil services, such a course ensures that our students can be deeply rooted in the tenets of the legal system and contribute to future developments.

It is interesting to note that the paralegal sector, or that of allied professions in the legal industry, is still in its nascent stages in India, at least in terms of formalisation. While these are established roles in many other countries, there is a huge scope for growth in this industry in India.

As these diverse career profiles have been expanding across the globe, strong educational programmes that cater specifically to these allied arenas of law are on the threshold of gaining the kind of popularity that professional law degrees did in India, a few decades ago.

Law schools in the country will need to train students more rigorously to pursue careers in law and allied fields through innovative new courses. Beyond short-term diplomas, a solid footing through undergraduate level legal programmes is the need of the hour.

At the vanguard of bolstering higher education in the country, India’s number one law school, Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) is taking the lead. To give an impetus to expanding the scope of legal education, JGLS offers the three-year B.A. (Hons.) in Legal Studies—a course which exclusively addresses this urgent and growing requirement for various roles in the legal industry. In the backdrop of such programmes yet to take off in India, this degree will help candidates applying for jobs to stand out with a clear distinction—a dedicated, world-class education in legal studies and the arts.

What the introduction of the five-year B.A. LL.B. programme back in 1987 did to boost the profession of lawyers in India, could be repeated for a range of careers in law and allied fields, with the B.A. (Hons.) Legal Studies programme. The Legal Studies degree trains students with a foundational knowledge of legal systems. Taught in a multidisciplinary format at O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, the course blends legal education with social science themes in order to equip students with the diversity of skills needed to succeed in the legal field and beyond.

What does a Legal Studies curriculum cover?

Every limb of society, economy or politics, every aspect of life today, has its foundations in law. This means that an understanding of law holds significance in any line of work. As complexities increase in the modern world, the legal industry becomes indispensable.

People who are equipped with a sound knowledge of law and its processes, its evolving contexts, and are familiar with the development of legal discourses across the globe and administrative procedures in legal systems are needed not only to uphold the growing industry, but lend a trained legal perspective to other sectors as well.

Legal Studies provide students with an understanding of the context in which legal work is performed. Armed with this knowledge of the law, you can successfully navigate such challenges across sectors.

At Jindal Global Law School, the programme seeks to evoke a legal imagination that is needed for shaping the framework within which this branch functions. The course provides you with a comprehensive exposure to the Indian and global legal systems through experiential learning via internships and imparts skills essential for pre-legal and paralegal work. It also explores the history and organisation of legal systems from national, international and comparative perspectives. Students also get acquainted with the substance of relevant laws in India.

You will hone the ability to:

  • Express opinions on legal issues concisely and clearly;
  • Identify, analyse, and address legal problems and conduct social impact assessments of the same;
  • Develop excellent organisational and communication skills;
  • Carry out quantitative and qualitative analysis; legal research and writing;
  • Assist in the management and functioning of legal practices and more.

The coursework will nurture logical thinking, problem solving, and heuristic skills, along with a fine-grained training in the critical skills needed for paralegal and pre-legal work. By learning about different areas at the intersection of law and social sciences, you can plan for a variety of career paths. Within law, the possibilities are endless.

Legal Studies subjects like legal thought, legal principles, criminal justice system in India, commercial transactions, constitutional thought and policy, contractual theory, and governance structures in India, among others, will cover the breadth of legal knowledge necessary for entry into the industry. To specialise in different areas, there are a panoply of courses on legal, regulatory, and policy aspects of equal rights, immigration, railway, aviation, health, intellectual property, technology, finance, and business.

Courses on international law and the world’s legal systems could help you to secure positions in international firms and even abroad, or also enable you to pursue higher studies abroad with further specialisations in law. To add to this, JGLS offers international exposure through:

  • Exclusive student exchange programmes of BA Legal Studies students with The University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law, USA;
  • Jindal – Harvard Programme on Human Rights and Development;
  • Jindal – Oxford Summer School on International Law and Global Governance;
  • Jindal – Fletcher Programme on Diplomacy and Foreign Policy.

In addition, you’ll study about human rights, gender and society, corporate governance, legal protection of the environment, regulations of technology and the cyber space, economic theory, financial market regulations, cross-border trade and investment and more. Each of these areas are emerging as key domains across the world.

The ability to approach these through a blended legal and social science perspective will make it possible for any student enrolled in this Legal Studies degree to contribute to the world in many ways. This foundation in various legal studies subjects indeed offers superior career portability.

Considering that careers of the modern world are not ‘lifelong’ as they once were, today’s professionals need the flexibility and dynamism to learn, grow and constantly evolve in the rapidly changing framework of the working world.

This is why the Legal Studies programme covers not only subjects related to law, but provides you with a broad-based education in liberal arts courses as well—so that you can go on to pursue a diversity of careers or further studies in law or in liberal disciplines. A Legal Studies degree can also act as an excellent stepping stone for high-level government positions.

Jindal Global Law School has multiple collaborations that facilitate internships and placements.

 The school also has extensive ties with the government organisations, businesses, and civil society, which help students and graduates find work experience and careers in the areas of their interest. JGLS has established partnerships with international and top Indian law firms, including White & Case, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, AZB & Partners, FoxMandal Little, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, Nishith Desai Associates, Economic Laws Practice, Khaitan & Co., Vaish Associates and Trilegal, among others.

Can you practice law with a Legal Studies degree?

It is important to know that this Legal Studies programme is separate and independent from the existing B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) and BBA LL.B. (Hons.) programmes offered by JGLS and other law schools.

A big advantage of this programme however, being of a three-year duration, is that it does not require the longer commitment as the traditional B.A. LL.B. The five-year road to becoming a lawyer is geared for those who’re certain of their professional choices—but many a times, students enrolled in the demanding B.A. LL.B. programmes are not completely sure and may even drop out. The Legal Studies course offers you a way to get your foot in the doors of the legal industry, and plan your future carefully.

You could consider the Legal Studies degree as the first step towards becoming a lawyer. As a graduate of Legal Studies, you can take up a number of roles in the legal industry, but you will not be able to appear for the All India Bar Exam to qualify as a lawyer. That said, if you find yourself interested in a career as a lawyer, the transition to a three-year LL.B. programme offered anywhere will be easy.

Coming from a Legal Studies background, you will have an edge in any LL.B. programme—which is usually taken up by graduates from different streams of humanities, commerce or even science. With the insights gained during the three-year dedicated training, you’ll start off with an upper hand, and can utilise your time to learn the nuances of what it takes to build on your existing knowledge and become a lawyer, with a lot more efficiency. You will have more control over your learning, and a clear direction ahead.

Further, this programme also serves as a springboard for pursuing higher studies in law outside India, such as Juris Doctor programmes in the US. Graduating from this programme will also qualify you to pursue certain Master’s programmes in law that do not require a Bachelor’s degree in law (e.g., M.B.L. degree of certain universities), post graduate diplomas in law, and all other postgraduate programmes.

The Legal Studies degree is a unique choice for young students interested in law. It offers many rewarding opportunities to thrive in the exciting world of law. This is a course that calls for young people to take a leap of faith and soar into the successes of careers that are only slated to grow impressively in the future.

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