LL.M. recruitments & Covid: How international law schools can navigate uncertainty, fear and grief in India

Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash
Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash

It is not too surprising that a number of law school clients have decided to either postpone their current recruitment activities for India or reconfigure them in some way or the other. Underneath this change of strategy is a fairly simple question: with India suffering one of her worst health disasters, is this really a good time to be advertising LL.M. courses at foreign law schools?

The answer though, is not as simple as it would seem.

After all, the Indian law graduate’s desire to study abroad remains strong despite the pandemic. India was, and continues to be, a market for the foreign LL.M.  And, given the sheer number of law graduates and lawyers that continue to be churned out, India remains a very large market. In fact, one might go a step further and argue that the pandemic has accelerated the desire to move out of the country.

At the same time, there is no doubt that the pandemic has had a significant impact on study abroad plans. The significant reduction of income and savings has meant the postponement of big ticket spends such as foreign education. In addition, it would be fair to say that the pandemic has resulted in emotional, physical and mental trauma meaning that foreign education plans have slipped down the priority list. And finally, the switch to the (less appealing) online teaching model in foreign campuses.

Given all of this, how should foreign law schools approach their recruitment plans? Well, I don’t think there are any simple answers, but if law schools truly do want to engage with prospective applicants from India, they can certainly keep a few rules in mind.

To be precise, three such rules:

One, stop pretending like everything is normal. Clearly, it is not business as usual so why should your marketing campaigns pretend to be? Instead, law schools could consider showcasing empathy, an acceptance that these are definitely not the best of times. This can be done via a number of ways from (temporarily) relaxing documentation requirements to specifically increasing aid for Indian applicants.

Two, share your technical expertise. Foreign law schools, if nothing else, often come with such a wide and varied depth of expertise. Share this with prospective applicants. For instance, can your career guidance team set up a 30-minute session for Indian law graduates? Can your counsellor share strategies to cope with stress and anxiety? Can your library databases be made accessible to Indian law students? On a side note, this rule will be equally valid in the post-Covid world as well.

Three, spend money. And by this I don’t mean spend money on ad banners and the like, but on organisations that are working towards Covid-relief. A number of Indian lawyers and law schools have come up with their own donation drives, surely foreign law schools can look at donating to these initiatives?

Needless to say, at the very foundation of these “rules” is the focus on deeper and more meaningful engagement. This engagement, and nothing else, is what will eventually lead to better recruitments. Nothing more and nothing less.

(And of course, here is the marketing spiel: Amicus Partners would be happy to guide your law school towards deeper engagement with the India market. Write to us at contact@amicuspartners.co.in)

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