The Common Law Admission Test or CLAT is amongst the top undergraduate entrance exams for Law. It is attempted by students who dream to be part of some of the top law institutes in India, namely National Law University (NLUs), NALSAR and others. In 2017, CLAT recorded over 54,000 applicants fighting for just 2342 seats .
With such odds, it is only natural that many students fail to secure a seat for themselves, and as a result, feel clueless and get cold feet.
If you too are (or feel that you will be) one of them, worry not, because no success is complete without failure. Even though the path you were on resulted in a dead end, there are still many alternate paths that can lead you to success.
So, here are a few options you can consider if you couldn’t clear the CLAT exam.
1. Pursue a 3-Year L.L.B Degree Instead
If you are under the impression that a 5-year degree is the one way to become a Lawyer, then hold on a minute! You can pursue Law after a normal UG degree also, through a 3-year L.L.B degree after completing your graduation. If you are not able to clear CLAT, then you can look at a few degree programs which can form a base for you to pursue law at a later stage.
For example, if you are keen on Law, then a B.A in Political Science can be a great introduction to law studies. The subject will help you understand how government policies are shaped, political systems and rules on which the country operates, as well as how countries operate globally.
Apart from this, you can look at any other degree program that interests you, and then follow it up with an L.L.B after graduation. Degrees such as B.B.A, B.Com, B.A Programme, B.A Psychology, B.A English are some of the top choices for students who go this route.
Recommended Read: Justice for All: What it Takes to Pursue Law as a Career
2. Explore Related Professions
A professional program that helps you enter the world of legal studies, company policies and arbitration is Company Secretary (CS). From working as the chief adviser to the board of directors to advising the company on good governance practices, arbitration, negotiation, etc., they handle a gamut of activities. They are the in-house legal experts of the company and hold all knowledge pertaining to company law.
And the best part is, you don’t even need a Law degree to be a part of this field. Company Secretary is a professional program for which you need to clear the three stages, Foundation Program, Executive Program and Professional Program, followed by a 1-year internship. You can pursue this after class 12th alongside any regular degree program, the most popular choice being B.Com.
Thus, while you will not be called a Lawyer, you would still be in a related domain and will get to practice Law. Another plus point of this option is that B. Com courses are Merit-based, thus, you don’t need to prepare for any additional entrance exams.
Read More: Career as a Company Secretary in India
3. Look At Other Entrance Exams
While the CLAT examination is conducted for admission to 18 of the coveted National Law Schools, they are not the only renowned law institutions in India. There are other institutes such as O.P Jindal Global Law School, SRM University, Symbiosis International University, Banaras Hindu University, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, etc. that offer good law programs.
They intake students through various other entrance exams such as LSAT (Law School Admission Test), SET (Symbiosis Entrance Test), BLAT (Banaras Hindu University Law Admission test), IPU CET LLB (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University Common Entrance Test). One of the NLUs, NLU Delhi conducts its own separate entrance exam called the AILET, which you can consider too.
Many of these entrance exams are relatively easier than CLAT and their seat intake is also much higher as compared to the institutes under the CLAT exam. Additionally, applying for the LSAT entrance exam will also give you an opportunity to apply to foreign universities (note: their application process will be separate).
4. Go the Liberal Arts Way
Unsure about Law but still willing to explore it along with other options? Worry not, the Liberal Arts system of education is here to help you out.
While the traditional Indian education system could not think about combining different subjects in a single degree, the Liberal Arts system is slowly turning tides by getting students to take an interdisciplinary approach. Unlike the specialisation system of most Indian universities, Liberal Arts education allows you to study an array of subjects before choosing the one you wish to major in.
For example, at the Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts, Pune, you can combine Political Science as your major with Law as your minor subject. The course outline is such that it provides you with an understanding of both contemporary politics and concepts related to equality, obligations, rights, etc. It also covers topics related to family law, administrative law, criminal justice administration, etc. to apprise students with the fundamental concepts of law.
Similarly, at Shiv Nadar University you can take up a course in International Relations and Governance Studies that encompasses a wide variety of international concerns ranging from intellectual property regimes, cybersecurity governance, inequality, social policy and global refugee politics.
Not just this, you can even take up subjects from other humanities disciplines and even those in Science and Commerce, if such is your interest.
Ashoka University (Sonipat) and FLAME University (Pune) also offer such multidisciplinary courses.
5. Consider a Career Shift
What was the reason behind pursuing Law in the first place? Was it that your parents or friends suggested it to you or do you have a genuine passion for it?
Sometimes we start treading on a certain career path without evaluating all our options first. This may be true in your case with Law too. It could be that there are other fields or careers that are better suited to you, and now is the best time to explore them.
For example, if you have good communication skills, research skills and decision-making capacity, and therefore you feel Law is the only suitable career for you, then I say, think again! Fields such as Public Relations, Sales, Marketing, Social Work or even careers related to Counselling could be an excellent fit for you.
There are n number of careers which you can consider, careers that may even utilise your skill-set and talent better than Law. It is important you widen your career horizons and do some research about other careers which sync with your aptitude, personality traits, and your area of interest. Platforms such as the Mindler Career Library can be an excellent starting point for your research.
This is a great opportunity to explore alternate career options. Don’t settle for a career you may not have the right aptitude or interest for!
6. Take a Drop Year
The reason why I have kept it at the end of the article is that this should be your LAST option. Since you can always go for a 3-year law degree after completing your graduation in any field, I don’t always recommend this option. Yet if Law is where your heart truly lies, then go ahead and take a drop year.
However, be careful before taking up this option. Many students feel they can crack the exam if only they give it another try, but a lot of them end up wasting their year. Before jumping in, properly evaluate your current performance. What was your score the last time and by what margin did you miss the cut-off score? Do you have the perseverance to study the same components whole-heartedly?
If yes, take that plunge. But make sure you critically evaluate your shortcomings, work on them, and have a proper plan for the coming year to claim your seat in one of the top law universities.
Recommended Read: Should You Drop a Year After Class 12th? Answers From a Career Coach
Your dream of becoming a Lawyer may be on thin ice right now, but it doesn’t mean it cannot be saved! Carefully consider your options to see if Law is the right route for you, or if it’s something else entirely. Whichever option you choose from above, be sure that it is the right one for you. And if you are unsure in any way, talking to career counsellors always helps.
All the best!
Did you fail to crack the CLAT or any other law entrance exam this year? What are your thoughts about your career right now? Share with us in the comments.