National Law Universities – Bringing gender equality in the Indian legalprofession?
“When I went to law school, there were very few women there. And if youdon't see anybody who looks like you, you begin to think ‘Maybe I don’tbelong here’ you know.”Fulbright scholar Prof. Sophie Sparrow (Interview, February 2012)In the interview, Professor Sparrow was talking about her time as a lawstudent in America several decades ago, but her description of her time in lawschool can very well describe the state of the Indian legal profession.In August last year, consultants Swagata Raha and Sonal Makhija released theresults of a study of women legal professionalsacross three cities. Their report,titled “Challenges faced by Indian Women Legal Professionals”, revealed
that 36% of women lawyers surveyed had faced some form of gender biaswhile working. This view is supported by senior lawyers such as Rajani Iyer inBombay, who has said that perhaps women lawyers face an“in-builtresistance”in the profession.
Women, at least in India, do not find the legal profession a particularly easyone to enter.But things might be changing.In May last year when the country’s largest law firm, Amarchand Mangaldasannounced that 13 of the firm’s lawyers were being promoted to Partnership,9were women. Of 16 lawyers who made Partner at JSA this year,5 werewomen. Admittedly, such promotions are far and few in between, but theymay well indicate a sign of things to come.There is no publicly available data on the exact number of women lawyers inthe country. In fact, there is no concrete data on the exact number of lawyerspracticing in the country either. The idea behind this paper is to examine thelevel of gender equality at one of the many sources of the next generation oflawyers: National Law Universities.
National Law Schools – The first step towards gender parity?
Since the first National Law University (NLU) was established in Bangaloretwo and a half decades ago, NLUs have attracted a large amount of mediaattention and continue to do so. While some have criticized these newer lawschools of losing their direction over the years, the impact of these NLUs onlegal education cannot be underestimated.