The Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate degree in law and offered in most common law jurisdictions. The “LL.” of the abbreviation for the degree is from the genitive plural legum (of lex, law). In India, legal education had been traditionally offered as a three-year graduate degree conferring the title of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B. / B.L.). The eligibility requirement for these degrees was that the applicant already have a bachelor’s degree in any subject from a recognized institution. However upon the suggestion by the Law Commission of India and also given the prevailing cry for reform the Bar Council of India, the governing body of legal education in India, instituted upon an experiment in terms of establishing specialized national law universities solely devoted to legal education similar to Indian Institutes of Technology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Indian Institutes of Management,etc. to raise the academic standards of legal profession in India.
Thus, the first National Law School of India was set up in Bangalore which was named as the National Law School of India University (popularly ‘NLS’ or ‘NLSIU’). NLSIU offered and continues to offer a five years law course upon the successful completion of which an integrated degree with the title of “B.A.,LL.B. (Hons.)” would be granted. Pursuant thereto, various other National Law Schools including the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research University of Law, Hyderabad (NALSAR), National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Cochin (NUALS) were established that administer a five-year (5 year) undergraduate degree programme and confer an integrated honours degree upon completion, such as “B.A., LL.B (Hons.)”, “B.B.A, LL.B (Hons.)”, “B.Sc., LL.B (Hons.)”, “B.Com., LL.B (Hons.)” and “B.S.W., LL.B (Hons.)”
. In the first two years of B.A., LL.B (Hons.) programme, students are taught Social Sciences (History, Political Science, Sociology and Economics) associated with B.A. alongside standard legal subjects, such as torts, contracts and constitutional law and in the B.Sc., LL.B (Hons.) programme, students are taught a combination of Physical, Life and Applied Sciences associated with B.Sc. alongside standard legal subjects, such as torts, contracts and constitutional law. In the first two years of B.B.A, LL.B (Hons.), B.Com., LL.B (Hons.) and B.S.W., LL.B (Hons.) programmes, students are taught regular subjects associated with B.B.A, B.Com. and B.S.W respectively along with the standard legal subjects as mentioned earlier. In the latter three years of all five programmes, legal subjects dominate the curriculum. The eligibility requirement for the five years integrated law degree is that the applicant must have successfully completed Class XII from a recognized Board of Education in India like CISCE, CBSE, etc.
Both the types of degree are recognized and are also qualifying degrees for practice of legal profession in India. A holder of either type of degree may approach a Bar Council of any States of India and get upon compliance with the necessary standards, be enrolled on the rolls of the said Bar Council. The process of enrolment confers a licence to the holder to practise before any court in India and give legal advice. The entire procedure of enrolment and post-enrolment professional conduct is regulated and supervised by the Bar Council of India.
Today, almost all Indian universities offer five year integrated LL.B. programmes while others remain offering the traditional three-year programme. The College of Legal Studies at the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun offers two six year integrated LL.B. programmes, the B.Tech Energy Technology + LL.B. (Hons.) with Specialization in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and the B.Tech Computer Science & Engineering + LL.B. (Hons.) with Specialization in Cyber Laws. Most other universities in India offer the five year integrated LL.B. programmes similar to the National Law Schools of India. The National Law School of India University, Bangalore still continues to be the premier law school of India and constantly ranks as the best law school in India.