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#FiveLessons or Why CLAT 2015 was the perfect pre-law entrance exam (in disguise)

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Of course, it could all just be a matter of perspective.

Roughly six weeks ago, more than forty-thousand students wrote the common law admission test. In the days and weeks that followed, a large number of these students have expressed varying levels of displeasure over the exam. Some have been quite vocal, others not so much. There have been allegations of incorrect questions, incorrect answers, and even incorrect allotment lists. At last count, there were around seven different litigations on the exam, each at different stages of proceedings.

Yet.

Dig beneath this masterful facade, for a facade is what it really is, and you will realise that CLAT 2015 was nothing short of pure, unadulterated genius.

And this is not wild conjecture.

In a world where practical theory is fast gaining importance, the entrance examination was, in fact, the perfect training ground for those interested in law. The entire process, from the very start, was a masterful discourse on how the world really works, a “101 Reality Check” if you will.

Do ye continue to doubt?

To put it in a format that ought to be more palatable to the listicle generation, here are the top five lessons that the CLAT 2015 has taught.

Lesson No. 1 – Copy, but don’t get caught

Copy with care
Copy with care

If there is one lesson that every law student ought to embrace, it is the art of copying. Copying, that is, without getting caught. Plagiarism, one of the (several) vices a law student may or may not indulge in, is a terrible, terrible thing to do. If anyone finds out about it.

This was most evident in the questions asked in this year’s examination, with as more than 80% of the questions lifted directly from different training material (An aside – Spicy IP’s academic interrogation of the IP-related aspects makes for quite a fun read)

In all likelihood, the paper setters would never have expected to be caught. And yet they were, by the increasingly resourceful student.

And so too shall the law student get caught, if she is not careful enough. For as resourceful as the student is the teacher. Beware.

Which leads one to the next lesson.

Lesson No. 2 – The Internet never forgets

Answer the Captain!
Answer the Captain!

The law students of today may well become the leader of tomorrow, the game-changer, the beacon of hope et cetera. But in a world where the line between private and the public is barely discernible, one must always be aware of lesson number three.

This year’s CLAT has already seen two bizarre examples of cover ups, one relating to the publication of answer sheets, and the other more recent, arguably far worse, cover up of the seats allocated under state domicile at NLIU Bhopal.

In both occasions, what the Higher Authorities either forgot or were unaware of, was the infallible memory of the Internet.

So too should the law student respect the Interwebs. An irresponsible Facebook post here, or a photo there may just end up coming back to haunt them in the future. And should you choose to conceal this information, well that is a very bad idea.

Easy there Sonny
Easy there Sonny

Lesson No. 3 – When in doubt sue [but not always]

Given the fact that CLAT owes its very existence to litigation, the entrance examination and the courts have often shared a very close relationship. Furthermore, a significant percentage of those entering these institutes may very well end up becoming litigation lawyers.

So, CLAT may or may not test your theoretical knowledge of the law, but it will certainly test your practical understanding.

Hence, it is little surprise that each year sees a healthy amount of litigation initiated by pre-law students. Through this process the student expectedly learns so much about the legal system; that too without a single day of formal legal education.

Of course, while in most cases litigation has produced the desired result, there may be some negative ramifications as well. For instance, the striking down of the age-limit by the Allahabad High Court – the long-term effects of this direction are yet to be fully examined.

But that is irrelevant, as the next lesson explains.

Lesson No. 4 – Forget the bigger picture

No one cares. Really, no one does. In the nearly farcial drama that has become this exam, the truly important questions are simply not being asked. And they should not.

For example, what are the questions supposed to test the student for? What does a legal education entail? What is it’s purpose? What is motivating so many to write the exam? What are their expectations, their hopes? What are their individual reasons?

No one cares.

It is a lesson that the law student would do well to heed. Waste not time on silly fancies student, rather focus on the minute; be myopic.

And, on that optimistic note, the final lesson of CLAT 2015.

What do you see?
What do you see?

Lesson No.5 – The good guys are the bad guys are the good guys

Although it would be unfair to credit only this year’s CLAT with this particular lesson, it is a learning that has been served on the proverbial platter this time around.

Inevitably, the organisers start things off on a positive note, yet as time progresses they come under attack. And as the allegations mount, they either choose to opt out of public dialogue or are simply unable to do so. With each passing day, the levels of spite hurled increases, as does the demonising.

Of course, once the courses start, things will change, and the cycle shall be played out once again. Depending on the circumstances, the evil /overbearing /authoritarian may become the generous /supportive /forward looking.

These are important lessons no doubt, and CLAT 2015 has taught these lessons well.