National Law Universities

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National Law Universities (NLU) are public law schools in India, founded pursuant to the second-generation reforms for legal education sought to be implemented by the Bar Council of India.[1][2] The first NLU was the National Law School of India University aka NLU Bangalore which admitted its first batch in 1988. Since then, most of the states in India have established NLUs. Currently there are 23 active NLUs across the country. Since their inception, these law schools have continuously been ranked as India's most prestigious and premier law schools by various agencies, they are also known as the IITs of Legal Education [3][4].The admissions to these universities is conducted through the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) except in the case of National Law University, Delhi, which admits students through its All India Law Entrance Test (AILET). Admission to the NLUs is extremely competitive with an acceptance rate as low as of 2% to 3%.


Traditionally legal education in India was conducted through the medium of non-specalized universities of India which granted law degrees like any other graduate degree. These universities referred and taught the curriculum prescribed by the Bar Council of India, but since they were under the overall control and supervision of the University Grants Commission, therefore it was not possible for the Bar Council to effectively pursue reforms in legal education.

This system continued for more than two decades with the overall legal education supervision by the Bar Council, since its establishment in terms of the Advocates Act, 1961.[5] However, there were calls for reforms from all quarters of the country in general because of the falling standards of the bar and there were mounting pressures over the Bar Council of India to change the way legal education was imparted in India.

The first concrete decision to this end was taken in 1984 when various proposals to modernize legal education were considered and approved by the Legal Education Committee of the Bar Council, in an attempt to improve legal education throughout India. One major proposal was the decision to establish specialized institutions to impart legal education in an integrated and diversified manner. The aim was to revitalize the legal profession by making law an attractive profession and making it competitive to attract talent, which was hitherto diverted to other professional areas such as medicine and engineering.


In contrast with the existing pattern of legal education in India, the proposed autonomous law schools varied in structural design and in various other respects. Some of these can be identified through the characteristics they carry:

  • Autonomous status of the law schools: This implied that the law schools carried either a 'deemed university' or a 'university' status, which empowered them to grant their own degree and which was recognized by other institutions in terms of the University Grants Commission regulations.
  • Five year law programme: Earlier law degrees were granted only to those candidates who had already completed their graduation and after three years of formal legal education. However, the admission to these autonomous law schools were only to those candidates who had completed Grade 12.
  • Integrated degrees: In these autonomous law schools, students studied for a law degree in integration with another degree of their choice. This allowed prospective advocates to have understanding of areas other than law. It also compensated for the lack of three years of formal education of other subjects that candidates in traditional three year law degree programme carried. Initially the choice of second degree was confined to B.A. (Bachelor of Arts). Later, other choices were also offered like B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science), B.B.A. (Bachelor of Business Administration) and B.Com. (Bachelor of Commerce).
  • Intensive legal education: These law schools were given autonomy to devise the imparting of the curriculum in a manner which would best suit the candidate's ability to understand legal concepts and ability to appreciate various issues involved in legal setting and instill in them the merit and reasoning standards required for a high professional conducts. A standout feature of these institutions is that they are single subject universities where the main thrust of education is on law with other complementary social sciences.
  • National status of law schools: These Schools are recognized by the university grants commission as "state universities" and are affiliated to the Bar Council of India. Each of these law schools were to be established under a specific legislation, to be passed by the State legislature of the State desirous of establishing a law school. In terms of these legislation, these law schools were required to establish and practice excellent and high standards, at par with other national level institutions imparting education in other wakes of social life. The conferment of national status also make admittance to these law schools at a prestigious choice and thus inviting meritorious students to get inclined to join legal profession.
  • Involvement of legal luminaries: To improve standards of legal education and ensure education imparted in these institutions met desired standards, the Bar Council of India involved various prestigious and talented individuals with these law schools. The most notable of these was the involvement of highly placed constitutional functionaries, such as the Chief Justice of India or the Chief Justice of various High Courts as the "Visitors" and often "Chancellors" of these law schools, which implied a constant involvement and supervision of elite figures of legal profession in India with these law schools.

List of National Law Universities [NLUs]Edit

No. NIRF Ranking Institute Abbreviation Established City State/UT
1 1 National Law School of India University NLSIU 1986 Bengaluru Karnataka
2 15 National Law Institute University NLIU 1997 Bhopal Madhya Pradesh
3 3 National Academy of Legal Studies and Research NALSAR 1998 Hyderabad Telangana
4 4 West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences WBNUJS 1999 Kolkata West Bengal
5 10 National Law University Jodhpur NLUJ 1999 Jodhpur Rajasthan
6 -- Hidayatullah National Law University HNLU 2003 Naya Raipur Chhattisgarh
7 8 Gujarat National Law University GNLU 2003 Gandhinagar Gujarat
8 17 Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University RMLNLU 2005 Lucknow Uttar Pradesh
9 -- National University of Advanced Legal Studies NUALS 2005 Kochi Kerala
10 18 Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law RGNUL 2006 Patiala Punjab
11 -- Chanakya National Law University CNLU 2006 Patna Bihar
12 2 National Law University Delhi NLUD 2008 New Delhi Delhi
13 -- Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University DSNLU 2008 Anakapalli Andhra Pradesh
14 25 National Law University Odisha NLUO 2009 Cuttack Odisha
15 24 National Law University and Judicial Academy NLUJA 2009 Guwahati Assam
16 22 National University of Study and Research in Law NUSRL 2010 Ranchi Jharkhand
17 -- Tamil Nadu National Law University TNNLU 2012 Tiruchirapalli Tamil Nadu
18 -- Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai MNLUM 2014 Mumbai Maharashtra
19 -- Maharashtra National Law University Nagpur MNLUN 2016 Nagpur Maharashtra
20 -- Himachal Pradesh National Law University HPNLU 2016 Shimla Himachal Pradesh
21 -- Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad MNLUA 2017 Aurangabad Maharashtra
22 -- Dharmashastra National Law University DNLU 2018 Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh
23 -- Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Law University DBRANLU 2012 [a] Sonipat Haryana

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Academic sessions began only in 2019.


  1. ^ "India's Top National Law Universities (NLUs)". Retrieved 2021-06-18.
  2. ^ "What are NLUs (National Law Universities)? How are these Different from Other Law Schools". Retrieved 2022-01-08.
  3. ^ "India's Best Law Colleges 2019". India Today. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Law school ranking". National Institutional Ranking Framework Ministry of Human Resource Development Government of India. Government of India. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  5. ^ Advocates Act, 1961