The concept of a national institution to act as a pace-setter and a testing ground for bold experiments in legal education came up before the Bar Council of India in the context of the Council's statutory responsibility for maintaining standards in professional legal education under the Advocates Act, 1961.
The NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY came into existence through a Notification under the NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY Act (Karnataka Act 22 of 1986). It signified the culmination of efforts by the Judiciary, the Bar Council of India, the Karnataka Bar Council, the Bangalore University and the Government of Karnataka to reform legal education and to establish a centre of excellence for legal education and research in India.
Thanks to the generosity of the Government of Karnataka and the Bangalore University, the Law School has a campus of its own, located in Nagarbhavi, about 10 kms from the City railway station and standing over twenty-three acres beside the Institute of Social and Economic Change. Since 1991, it is a fully residential university on one campus with three Halls of Residence for men, three Halls of Residence for women, two Hostels for post-graduate women students, three blocks for Faculty Quarters and two blocks for non-teaching staff Quarters besides the Academic Block. The munificence of Mrs. Sudha Narayanamurthy of INFOSYS has enabled the Law School to have the Shri Melgiri Narayan Rao Memorial Library, named after her father, for providing up-to-date library facilities. The library was inaugurated by Mr. Justice R.C. Lahoti, the then Chief Justice of India, on 17th August, 2005.
The Chief Justice of India is the Chancellor of the University. The Chairman, Bar Council of India, is the Chairman of the General Council. These connections lend a stature and prestige to the School which is unparalleled in the history of legal education in India. The Karnataka Act confers complete administrative and academic autonomy which facilitates innovation and experimentation in the pursuit of excellence in legal education.
The first batch of students was selected through a National Entrance Test, and regular academic activities began on 1st July, 1988. It was a significant achievement that students from this batch won the Bar Council of India National Moot Court Competition in their very first year of legal education. Ever since, admissions to the Law School has been on the basis of performance at a National Entrance Test which has now, since 2008, graduated to a National Level Common Admission Test known as the Common Law Entrance Test (CLAT) and it operates to select candidates for all the National Law Schools in the country. Other law-teaching institutions are permitted to join in this method of selection of their candidates for admission to their law courses.
Twenty-four batches have completed their studies here. Many students have pursued further studies in their chosen areas of Law in other prestigious Universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Michigan, York and other Universities abroad on prestigious scholarships like Rhodes and INLAKS. Many have joined practice of the law in India at various levels from trial courts to the High Courts and the Supreme Court; some have set up independent law practices alone or conjointly with other alumni of the Law School; many have joined corporate law firms both in India and abroad; some have joined work with national and international NGOs; some with UN organisations, the World Bank and the IMF; some have
joined the academic profession, teaching in this University, the NALSAR, Hyderabad, the NUJS, Kolkata, Cambridge, the LSE, East Anglia, the National University of Singapore, etc.; some have joined the Judiciary, and a few have joined the Civil Services.
The Law School has undertaken many research projects funded by the UGC, the Government of India, the Government of Karnataka, the Department of Women and Child Development, the UN agencies, the World Bank, HIVOS etc. These have served to strengthen research and teaching at the Law School.
The National Law School has exchange programmes with the National University of Singapore, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada and Buceuius Law School, Germany. Students from the Law School have spent a Semester in these Law Schools and their students have spent at least a Trimester here. This has facilitated exchange of ideas and culture between not only the law schools but also the countries. Faculty members of this University have gone to the Universities of Wales, Warwick and Nottingham and Faculty from these Universities have spent some time here doing teaching and research under the Exchange and Faculty Improvement Programmes facilitated by the British Council, Chennai. A number of professors and judges from the U.S.A., Canada, U.K., Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, South Africa, Malaysia and New Zealand have visited and interacted with, and even taught, at the Law School.
The Law School offers through its Distance Education Department a Master’s Degree programme in Business Laws, and Post-Graduate Diploma programmes in Human Rights Law, Environmental Law, Medical Law and Ethics, Intellectual Property Law and Child Rights Law. Many officers and working professionals have enrolled for these courses. Faculty members of the Law School are also involved in the organisation of programmes for and the teaching of officers belonging to the administrative, postal and other services.
In addition to reaching out with legal education informally to members of the society through these programmes, the Law School has had, from the very start, a Legal Services Clinic and a Centre for Women and the Law reaching out with legal aid and advice to women and others from the disadvantaged sections of the society, and mediation and negotiation for settlement of disputes. Faculty and students of the Law School help in creating legal awareness mainly among women and girls through classes in colleges and schools in and around the city of Bangalore.
The Law School today has many research and extension centres and a number of Endowment Chairs.
The challenge for the Law School is to stay ahead especially in the context of globalisation. The Law School has the social responsibility of continuing to be a Centre of Excellence in the field of legal education, a position which it came to occupy within the first ten years itself due mainly to the dedicated efforts of the Faculty and students during those initial and formative years. Globalisation has thrown up new challenges, and the professional legal education has to cater to the growing demands for skilled legal professionals who can effectively function in the emerging legal order. The present challenge is to measure up to internationally acceptable levels of excellence. By its Resolution dated 26th August, 2006 the General Council of the Law School has reiterated that
[T]his Law School was established with a view to cater to the requirements of the legal profession, law teaching and research, and judiciary and it is expected that the students who study in this School will eventually become legal practitioners, law teachers or engage in legal research or enter the judiciary in due course.
The Law School has made web-based legal education and interaction a reality in the areas of distance education programmes and for that purpose improved infrastructural facilities to answer the needs. It has facilitated the use of technological aids in classrooms and Conference Halls. The Law School is moving towards setting up a Digital Library of its collections as part of the Open Access Initiative, and efforts are on to provide open and world-wide access to all law related source documents.