School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Which semester are you in
Faculty and Academics of TISS
The classes generally run from morning to evening (9 to 4 approx.), sometimes late in the evenings too, and the timings keep changing as per changes in the weekly schedules.
The faculty comprises of experienced lecturers from a variety of backgrounds, and a lot of emphasis is laid on guest lectures, hence we get to listen from practising lawyers, and also people who once have practised and are now teaching full time.
One notable thing about studying LL.M. from TISS is, the School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance is akin to a department in the institution of TISS (to simplify things), and thus lecturers from various other Schools and Research Centers within TISS come and engage classes, which is a different experience in itself, in that, we do not stick to pure law anymore.
We are given a multi-disciplinary perspective on laws and the way they function in real life situations, which is actually a welcome break from the way we get to study law at the level of under graduation.
Evaluation methodology consists of giving classroom presentations, writing assignments and taking end semester examinations.
Also, we get to attend the awesome Foundation Courses, which are the centralized courses for all the Schools within the campus, so we get to learn things as diverse as Culture, Society and Identity, Development theories, Neo-classical Economics, Globalization and its effects, Sociology of Gender, Women’s movements, Poverty, and what not!
So, it’s an intellectual feast for anyone looking to study LL.M. from a multi-disciplinary approach.
Student Culture and Activities
TISS has a vibrant student community drawn from diverse backgrounds from all over India, and there are exchange students as well, so you get to meet some real awesome people on campus, and most importantly, learn from them all.
Many have prior work experience, so freshers do benefit a lot from learning from their peers.
There are all kinds of lectures and extra-curricular activities going on every week on campus (not exaggerating!), debates on contemporary issues are held, eminent personalities are invited to give guest lectures, there are cultural events at least every two months, there are active student groups discussing government action/inaction, etc.
There is also an active Students’ Union that organizes events and is responsive to complaints registered by students.
There’s also a Recreation Centre on campus, which has a gym, tennis court, yoga centre and musical instruments.
So infrastructure-wise, TISS gives everything that students need, it’s just upto the students, how they make use of what is given to them!
TISS Mumbai is located in Deonar, which is basically in Chembur, which is a suburb in eastern Mumbai.
It is well connected to all parts of Mumbai through buses (Deonar Depot, which is one of the most well-connected bus depots of Mumbai, is just in front of the campus) and local trains (the nearest local train station, Govandi, is just around 3 km away from the campus).
Also, there is an Expressway which directly connects Chembur to South Mumbai, for those who can afford it (it’s pretty costly taking this route).
There are ample shops around the campus where all our essential requirements can be easily fetched.
TISS has a Centralised Placement Committee for all the Schools together, and each School is free to have its own Placement Cell.
So LL.M. students here get to sit for placements at both the levels – Institute level and School level.
Since TISS is a primarily a Social Sciences Institute, a lot of organizations coming on campus work in the social and development sector.
So LL.M. students can either opt for these development sector jobs, or jobs in the socio-legal sectors, based on the kind of organizations that visit the campus, based on students’ initiative.
It is to be noted that, placements in TISS is entirely a students’ initiative, and hence, every batch of LL.M. students need to work on inviting the kind of organizations they want to be a part of.
LL.M. course has a compulsory field work requirement in both the semesters, and we are placed in an agency based on our interests.
In our first semester, we were placed in various socio-legal agencies in and outside of Mumbai, and we worked with exploited women, prisoners, tribals, the homeless, Women’s Commission, etc.
Administration and Fees
Since more than half of the students studying at TISS live outside the campus in various paying guest accommodations, there is no curfew timings applicable to them (obviously!), and for those who do get to stay in hostels, 12 o’ clock is the limit, but even if someone comes in after this, they are let in after making an entry at a register kept at the gate.
TISS is a liberal institution with a great academic environment prevailing, as compared to most of the educational institutions in India, thus, being here is an experience in itself.
The administration is friendly and not apathetic (unlike those in most other government institutions).
The overall cost of the one-year LL.M. programme comes around 1.5 – 2 lakh, depending on where you stay.
More details about the tuition fees are available HERE.
Tell us about the infrastructure of your college
TISS has one of the finest libraries in India, and maintains quality in every essential aspect important for a post graduate student.
TISS Mumbai campus has excellent infrastructure and facilities for students.
There’s an ATM on campus too.
The only drawback can be lack of hostel facility for students, since there are 1000s of students enrolled in various programmes.
But, at the time of admission, the authorities publish a list of reliable Paying Guest accommodations available around the campus along with the rates, so that it’s easier for students to decide.
I do not think this should be a concern for any post graduate student, because accommodations are available around the campus to suit every budget.
So, come to TISS if you are looking to understand law not from a lawyer’s perspective, but from the perspective of the vulnerable and the marginalized.
Come to TISS if you want to understand what mainstream law does to the ones living at the fringes and how we as human rights lawyers can help them maneuver through the alien legal system that we have in place for all of us.
Come to TISS if you have compassion in your heart and want to work in the socio-legal sector and want to make a difference to the world, being a humanistic lawyer.
Best things about your law school
The best things are – studying here broadens one’s horizons at an unparalleled level – we actually start thinking like a human rights lawyer working on the grassroots with the marginalised and the under-privileged.
The one year LL.M. in Access to Justice course is meant for those interested in human rights lawyering.
So we get to look at the functioning of law from a multi-disciplinary perspective, devoid of the artificial academic boundaries that often prevent us from understanding the truth in its entirety.
Also, we get to interact and learn from people from diverse backgrounds which is a value addition in itself.
Emphasis here is on experiential learning, and a lot of volunteering opportunities are available on campus (M-Ward – a slum with the least HDI in Mumbai is near TISS, so students volunteer there).
There’s an active Counselling Centre where students are involved as Peer Counsellors. Even otherwise, the Counselling Centre offers counselling services for free to all students.
Thus, stress is laid on a holistic development of one’s personality here, which is seldom found in Indian educational institutions.
Worst things about your law school
Well, for those of you looking to pursue a purely academic LL.M., involving a lot of legal theory and intricate analyses of various laws, this course will be a disappointment, because the objective of this course is to create human rights lawyers who have a holistic perspective of social realities.
Thus, like any other course offered at TISS, LL.M. in Access to Justice is a mix of theory and praxis.
You may not find a lot of pure legal studies happening here (if you compare this course with the kind of LL.M.s offered by NLUs, for example).
But I personally feel that, this is the strength of TISS LL.M., that it has such a strong multi-disciplinary approach, allowing one to think for oneself and frame opinions based on the broad inputs one is given on campus.