Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) Project is Chanakya National Law University’s latest endeavour. The National Law Schools are a brand name today in the field of legal education, providing quality legal education. Lack of awareness amongst the low income students in small towns, rural areas and other Nona fluent backgrounds of law as a career, high fees charged by the Law Schools and an extremely competitive entrance examination which requires extensive and expensive coaching, as a result only students from English medium educated middleclass and high-class can afford the opportunity of availing a quality legal education.
The IDIA Project as the name suggests is not just an awareness mechanism, it also seeks to help those interested amongst the underrepresented and marginalised gain admission into these reputed Schools. This endeavour seeks to empower the unprivileged and marginalised students and in the process, their communities through access to such legal education. It recognizes the collective responsibility of the society in doing so. Also, such diversity at law schools would play an important role in not only shaping the students’ personalities but also the face of education.
IDIA is a project initiated by Shamnad Basheer, a professor at National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata and an alumnus of the first National Law School in India, National Law School of India University, Bangalore. The IDIA Project is coordinated through various National Law Schools across India. Chanakya National Law University has shouldered the responsibility of the Bihar Chapter.
In this pursuit, the IDIA Team would conduct an awareness campaign in the nook and corner of Bihar targeting students, schools, parents and teachers. And once the students know of the promising and varied prospects of law as a career, IDIA would take the interested students through aptitude tests and select the promising ones from amongst the economically backward and marginalized. The Volunteers would then take them through the CLAT process and train them. Lack of proficiency in English is seen as a biggest obstacle considering its weightage in CLAT. The educational backgrounds from which these students come hardly help. English Language, for the purpose of CLAT and a possible future in law school is tuned. IDIA has collaborated with training institutes to provide offline and online training modules.
Once the students crack CLAT and become a part of National Law Schools, IDIA
takes the responsibility of seeing them through the law school financially, by funding them out of general pool donated by law firms, lawyers, teachers, students and many others supporting the cause. Moreover, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, NALSAR, Hyderabad and National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata have a policy towards fee waivers to such students. In addition to this, part-time jobs at libraries in the University, with lawyers and law firms, scholarships from the government and loans from banks are encouraged. These students are allotted mentors at the respective law schools to
guide them in developing their personality and seeing that they ‘fit in’ comfortably. In this process, not only students but the perception of ‘law as a career’ in the society improves. As more and more students choose law as a career, the society’s perception of law also improves considerably.