By Abhyudaya Agarwal
Business law courses have been around the corner for quite some time now.
NUJS launched the diploma course in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws course in 2012, which was almost fanatically loved by its students.
Since then, many other courses around business laws have been launched.
How should you evaluate a business law course? What are the relevant criteria you should look at? In this post, we shall discuss the questions you should be asking:
#1 – A robust and varied content framework for comprehensive e-learning and a demo
Content: Merely compiling materials from text books and the internet into e-learning materials or PDFs and notes does not create a good online course.
Many universities have started distance learning or e-learning courses (certificate, diploma or even masters courses) where PDFs or printed books are given – they are typically notes or compilations from textbooks and impart theoretical knowledge.
You just have to clear the exam to get the certification. These courses are usually only useful for adding an extra line in your CV, but do not enhance your skillsets or employability.
There should be significant video content as well, and there should be facilities to interact with domain experts during live sessions or even afterwards if you have doubts.
In addition, study materials could be in the form of practice notes, step charts for a particular transaction or mind maps which help in ready reference.
Sample templates can be provided so for future use. Controlled self-assessment tests can be added so that students know whether they have understood the materials. Once in a while, a group exercise can be conducted. These tools are a minimally necessary to ensure a quality learning experience.
How do you decide whether the course and study materials will be up to the mark?
Wherever possible, request demo access. A handful of study materials is seldom enough to appreciate how the course will help you, request a significant component and experience the interface. Click here to request access to a demo of the course.
Excerpts of webinars with industry experts can be seen here.
#2 – Type of faculty and their prior experience and qualificaitons
Instead of the type of degree (e.g. masters or diploma) or the name of the university conferring it (in case it is a university-recognized course), one needs to focus on the qualifications and experience of the faculty who has designed the course or is involved in teaching.
Are they practitioners or academics? Do they teach in universities?
Some courses exclusively depend on in-house faculty or course creators, who create content from textbooks and the internet – for such courses, the potential of the course can be restricted by the experience of in-house faculty.
Some courses, like the NUJS business law diploma course, rely extensively on sectoral experts.
At the same time, one cannot assume that a law firm partner would merely by virtue of his position and experience as a corporate lawyer also capable of being a rockstar teacher.
Teaching is an art which is learnt and not naturally possessed – a good course creator will be able ensure that the knowledge and skills (whether taught in-house or captured from external experts) are transferred in a palatable and intuitive manner, and easily absorbed by the mind of the learner.
Various skills such as instructional design come into picture in this process – a good teacher knows how to structure information, tell stories to explain problems and use relevant case studies.
#3 – Past track record and what students say
This is an extremely important question – what are students who have taken courses saying about it?
It is one thing to create a fancy syllabus and make tall claims, and quite another to have happy students who are evangelists of the course. as you may know from your college experience, many law school courses have excellent syllabi, and yet they fail miserably when it comes to practical teaching.
Although testimonials are useful, it is advisable to personally speak to students who have taken the course earlier and see a detailed demo yourself.
Try to ask why they took the course, their career goals and how they benefited from the course, if at all. A lot of learning can take place from peers – what is your peer group like and do you have access to your peers?
#4 – Placement and internship assistance
Does the course provide any kind of internship or placement assistance? It is extremely difficult to provide this – while professional recruitment companies and websites such as LegallyJobs may be helpful in identifying job openings, they are only touching the tip of the iceberg. There are many lawyers and firms who are looking out for talent but do not have access to it.
Internship assistance is even less structured as compared to recruitment assistance. What about guidance pertaining to CV writing and cracking interviews?
For example, the diploma course has helped law students to get placed with Impact Law Ventures, Interactive Media (the company which owns CAClubIndia and LawyersClubIndia), L&T EBG.
Several students have used course materials to prepare for Day Zero and crack interviews at top law firms such as Amarchand, AZB and Luthra. Some students have even used study materials provided in the course to kick off their initial research while working for clients at top law firms. Feel free to get in touch with us if you wish to connect with them.
#5 – Takeaways and long-term value proposition
What is the relevance of your learning? Does it enable you to get a better job or is it merely about ‘trivia’?
Many courses emphasize on cramming trivia, statutory provisions or cases – these elements are easily forgotten by the human memory. Further, these are also easily accessible at hand when required.
Instead, decision-making insights, negotiation pointers and the commercial intent is far more valuable to know and adds to one’s skillsets.
Are you acquiring skillsets that enable you to develop your learning further on your own, or to help clients?
Will you be able to observe a noticeable difference in your internship and interview performance?
Has it improved your perception of the subject matter? Will you retain the knowledge and skillsets after the course is over or is it just a line on your CV?
Will you acquire skills which enable you to assimilate real events and practical situations in a far more efficient or superior way as compared to your peers (or even seniors)?
It is very important that these benefits can be demonstrated. Speak personally to someone who has taken the course earlier or to the course creators to understand this.
#6 – What if you fail to get a corporate law firm job? Will you have access to other career opportunities to work on emerging areas, startups and SMEs or use the skillsets to build your own practise?
This is an interesting question. It is said that lawyers and doctors are always required in the economy, but how true is this? Let’s assume you took a course that primary focuses on about how a listed company works, public capital markets and the takeover code.
You can advise a client on these matters if you get a job with a law firm which has listed companies as its clients (or investors which are acquiring listed companies).
This is great and it can definitely help you in securing a big law firm job – but what if you fail for some reason? Will your skills still be usable? Will you still be able to advise such clients?
Note – These are big companies with pre-established relationships with the best law firms, and it will be extremely difficult for you to make a client switch over and give work to a fresher like you instead of another top law firm (if you were working with one of these firms then it was another issue).
It’s a smart thing to have back up plans – in case you fail, do you have a Plan B?
Now look at this – there are 4 crore SMEs in India and 60,000 new companies get incorporated every year as per the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
It is important for any entrepreneur to understand how to optimally structure a new business, every company wants to figure out how to get essential business licences, how to save on taxes, how to raise investment and how to land government contracts. Under these circumstances, would you not want to learn about these issues as well?
Some of these are emerging areas, while on others there is significant need but absolute lack of legal expertise. If you don’t get a job, you can still get consultancy work if you have practical skillsets around these issues. It may be worthwhile to focus and build a legal practice around these areas.
#7 – Doubt clearing, administrative support and troubleshooting
In many courses, doubt clearing systems are rudimentary and faculty restricts itself to answering doubts arising from the course materials only.
However, often queries may relate to practical issues of interest surrounding business law developments and real-life experiences, but not specific portions of the syllabus or study materials.
Are such doubts addressed too? Are the course creators accessible over email (we are not talking about customer support staff here)? Can you connect with sectoral experts? Can you avail of career-related guidance? How promptly are doubts being solved?
We answer queries in 24 hours and connect experts with students directly when needed. Students also actively ask doubts during webinars.
#8 – Course fees
This is not a relevant factor while making a decision – most online courses will cost a fraction of the amount you spend for your law school education (three to five years of time and a few lakh rupees in fees and living costs).
Be careful of opting for a course simply because it is cheaper – the difference in quality can be as significant as between an iPhone and a cheap Chinese Android.
Look at it this way – if you spent 3 – 10 percent more on a course which promises to make you a well-rounded lawyer and get a job, will it not be of use to you?
On the other hand, imagine if you spent the first two years struggling to find a job and developing the very same practical skillsets, just because you wanted to save some money. Would it be optimal use of your time?
Don’t forget to include the additional living cost (a part of which also may have to be borne by your parents or those supporting you) for those additional years.
In case you want to learn about how the diploma course can help you or speak to someone who has taken the course earlier, write to us at write to [email protected] or contact Pallavi at 9582630056.
If and when you register for this course, please mention Lawctopus as the source of your information.
Abhydaya is a co-founder at iPleaders.
This is a sponsored post by iPleaders.