The Legal Education Scenerio in India
In his inaugural address at the recently held high-profile Conference of National Consultation for Second Generation Reforms in Legal Education at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh observed – “We do have a small number of dynamic and outstanding law schools, but I am afraid they remain islands of excellence amidst a sea of institutionalised mediocrity.”
While conducting the ranking process for Lawyers Update’s first ‘Ranking of Indian Law Schools’, we had an exactly similar thought and understanding when we went through the list of 900 law schools to find out those ‘islands of excellence’ for our young readers.
Arguably, Legal Education in India has come to the centre stage in the Post-National Law Schools era of legal education and so are the Indian Law Schools as preferred destinations for Indian youth seeking quality professional education.
Ranking of educational institutions in general is a tough task and when it comes to comparing different law schools of the country, the task becomes tougher as the law schools in India are as diverse as our country itself.
The LL.B. course, itself is the only university course in the country which is available in two different formats for two different target audiences, i.e. a 5-year integrated LL.B. course for class 12 pass outs and a 3-year LL.B. course for graduates of any stream.
Then, we have law schools offering only 5-year LL.B. courses after 12th like the National Law Schools and those offering only 3-year LL.B. courses after graduation like Law Faculty of Delhi University or BHU and then we have law schools offering both 5 years and 3 years LL.B. courses like the legendry Government Law College, Mumbai and ILS Law College, Pune.
Further, we have law schools like Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) charging fees over Rs. 6 lakhs per annum for a 5 year LL.B. course or over Rs.7 lakhs per annum for a 3 year LL.B. course. Even National Law School, Bangalore charges over 1.80 lakh per annum for its 5 year LL.B. course. And, then we have law schools like AMU Law Faculty or Delhi University’s Law Faculty or Government Law College, Mumbai charging almost nothing in comparison to them. The fee for a 5 year LL.B. programme at AMU is not more than Rs. 2,000 a year and the fee at DU Law Faculty is approx. Rs. 3000 a year.
If we look at the size of law schools, we have law schools like the Faculty of Law, Delhi University with sanctioned annual intake of over 2300 students in its LL.B. course making it the largest law school in Asia and one of the largest in the world in terms of student enrolment. Then, we have law schools including most of our National Law Schools which admit not more than 80 students every year.
Organizationally, we have Law Schools which are University in themselves like the 14 premier National Law Universities or State Law Universities set up by Governments of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, each set up under a separate Act of State Legislature. And, then we have Departments or Faculties of Law in the Central, State, Deemed or Private Universities. Further, there are hundreds of aided/ unaided, government and private law colleges affiliated to these universities.
Recently we have seen law schools like Jindal Global or many National Law Universities and Private Law Schools being set up with the corpus of crores of rupees and then we have many law departments being run in State and even Central universities in one old building on university campus struggling to fulfil the academic needs of students and teachers with poor financial conditions.
We have law schools as old as Government Law College, Mumbai which celebrated its 150th anniversary few years back and also we have over a dozen new law schools and law universities where not a single batch has yet passed out.
Naturally, our law schools also do not have uniform admission process. We have law schools admitting students through All India Entrance Exams like CLAT of National Law Schools or LL.B. Entrance Tests of DU and BHU and then we have a large number of law schools admitting students on merit basis.
In such diverse circumstances, comparing and ranking Indian law schools many a time, will appear to be an exercise of comparing carrots with peas. Yet we decided to do it for the young law aspirants whose interest is of paramount importance for us and for the legal world.
Further, the chaos and confusion created in the minds of young law aspirants seeking admission to the law schools and the existing rankings brought by various news magazines and newspapers simply adding to their confusion forced us to act and bring an authoritative list of law schools for both 5 year and 3 year LL.B. aspirants which they can bank upon while making that crucial admission decision.
Ranking by other Magazines and Newspapers
Some news magazines and newspapers or newspaper supplements have tried to rank Indian law schools in past (and some of them are doing this every year as a ‘Special Issue’) but unfortunately they have failed miserably in producing correct and dependable results. This is simply because of their lack of understanding of legal education in India as the people ranking law schools are professional journalists without any law school background.
Recently, a leading news magazine which is into ranking business for many years, made silly mistakes while ranking Law Schools. They were not able to provide even the correct names of all colleges offering LL.B. The names of many top law schools were given wrong. They even ranked some of the institutions which do not offer LL.B. course at all. Further, they missed out some of the oldest and finest law schools of the country in their list and included some which do not stand a chance as a preferred choice for legal education among law aspirants.
We attribute these wrongs to nothing but their lack of knowledge and understanding of Indian legal education which is but obvious. Further, while ranking law schools the news magazines often miss to involve the true recipient of the results i.e. the law aspirants aiming for admission to these top law schools. They rely more upon the perception of the people or the reputation of the college, the parameters which are themselves vague and highly subjective.
Unfortunately, no law magazine or legal journal having lawyers, law school teachers, students or alumni on board ever undertook this exercise of ranking law schools of the country ever.
Lawyers Update (LU) an exclusive law magazine, with a readership of over a lakh lawyers, law teachers, law students and law aspirants, has over 15 years and 180 issues of standing. The team at LU includes lawyers from Supreme Court and Delhi High Court, Law Teachers from premier Law Schools and Alumni of some of the top Law Schools of the country.
In association with Universal Institute of Legal Studies (UILS) which is India’s premier law entrance preparatory institute, headquartered in New Delhi with centers in Delhi, Bhopal, Indore and Kolkata and which has sent its students in large numbers to almost each top law school of the country during past six years, Lawyers Update brings its first ever law school ranking.
Separate ranking for 5 Year and 3 Year LL.B. Courses
This ranking is unique and different because it ranks law schools on the basis of courses they offer. Our objective is to help the young law aspirants whether aiming for a 5 year LL.B. course or a 3 year LL.B. course to find the perfect law school for them. As the aspirants for both the courses are completely different, we have come up with different set of rankings for them. Readers will therefore, find different rankings for law schools offering 5 year LL.B. courses for class 12 pass outs and a different ranking for law schools offering 3 year LL.B. courses for students who have done their graduation or studying in their final year of the degree course. So, the two different sets of law schools ranking here are:
- Top 25 Law Schools offering 5 year LL.B. courses
- Top 25 Law Schools offering 3 year LL.B. courses
We have further included a list of 100 law schools from the length and breadth of the country for the benefit of our young readers. These were the law schools we covered in our study to arrive at the results of our rankings.
The first ever Lawyers Update Ranking of Law Schools has followed a simple process stepby- step to determine the overall rankings. This process was divided in four stages:
Stage 1 – Selection of Law Schools for our study
From among the list of 900 law colleges approved and recognized by Bar Council of India available with us (courtesy: the new website of Bar Council of India www.barcouncilofindia.org), we selected 100 law colleges based on their reputation, their online presence and most importantly after researching the choice of law aspirants aiming for and securing admission to the law schools in both 5 year and 3 year LL.B. courses during last six years at Universal Institute of Legal Studies (UILS) New Delhi. The list is given in the last of the article.
We included Law Schools from almost every State and Union Territory of the country in this process. Generally, news magazines do not go beyond Metros and big cities. We included law schools even from Jammu & Kashmir, States of North-East, small States like Goa and Pondicherry. We included not only the premier National Law Schools but also the University Departments and affiliated law colleges of top State Universities in addition to the Law Faculties of Central Universities and Law Schools associated with Deemed and Private Universities.
We also ensured to study each of the law school ranking brought by various news magazines and newspapers in last 10 years and included each of the law schools ever ranked in any magazine or newspaper in our study.
Stage 2 – Selection of parameters of ranking
We studied different parameters available for rankings of educational institutions in India and the world. We selected following four parameters and allotted points to each of them:
I. Law School Academics
II. Law School Student Quality & Achievements
III. Law School Infrastructure and Law Library
IV. Law School Placements & Alumni Network and Support.
We ensured that the new law schools where batches are yet to pass out and no placement has taken place or where alumni activity is not possible should not be ranked on the fourth parameter i.e. Law School Placements & Alumni Network and Support. For those few law schools, we distributed the points allotted to the fourth parameter in equal proportion to the first three parameters.
Stage 3 – Collection of Information & Data
The next step was to collect relevant data from various sources about each of the selected law schools. This was the most comprehensive and voluminous work. The information was collected by us from various sources viz. the latest Prospectus/Brochures released by the law schools/ universities, the information posted on the Law School Websites and the information received from law teachers, students and law aspirants.
Stage 4 – Computation of Scores & Ranks
After the information about each of the law school got collected, we created a 500-point scale distributing 200 points or 40% of the total points to the first parameter i.e. Law School Academics, which undoubtedly matters the most and then allotted 100 points each i.e. 20% of the total points to each of the other three parameters.
We included various subparameters within a parameter and calculated parameter wise score and rank for the law schools. Thereafter, we simply added the scores in all four parameters and thus, the overall score and ranks of law schools were prepared.
The Ranking Process
The different parameters and sub-parameters we used to calculate scores for each law school listed by us were as follows:
I. Law School Academics (200 Points – 40 %)
While calculating the scores for Academics, we focused on the following important constituents of academic delivery in the law schools:
Number of Faculty members and their qualifications and experience
We prepared a list of full-time, core faculty members of each law school. We took note of the number of Professors, Associate Professors/Readers and Assistant Professors/Lecturers in each law school. We also analyzed how many of the faculty members hold Ph.D., are qualified UGCNET/ SET and hold degrees i.e. LL.M. or Ph.D. from foreign universities. We also took note of the years of experience in teaching and/or industry/practice possessed by faculty members in a particular law school. We also took into account the National and International Seminars/ Symposia, etc. attended by the faculty members and the international exposure they have which they can impart to the students.
Publications and Research by Faculty members
We prepared a list of all publications done during last 5 years by faculty members of each law school. We also included publications in National and International Journals, publications of books and materials and undertaking of Major or Minor Research Projects of UGC and other national/ international agencies.
Faculty - Student Ratio
We calculated the teacherstudent ratio of every law school in the light of sanctioned strength of students to the existing fulltime faculty members.
Academic Process of Law School
We also studied the syllabus and course content, examination system (annual/semester/ trimester) and learning materials viz. Case Materials, etc. published/supplied by law school to the students. We also allotted points for academic Journals/ Periodicals / News letter s published by the law school.
II. Law School Student Quality and Achievements (100 Points – 20%)
The quality of input determines the quality of output. Law Schools attracting brightest students are certainly in a better position to nurture finest legal professionals. We studied the following points about the students of each law school while allotting points to them in this category:
Admission Process of law school
We trusted the various national and State level entrance exams like, CLAT, SET, LSAT, CET, LAWCET and LL.B. Entrance Tests of various universities. We studied the students’ preferences in selection of law schools for admission. An analysis of CLAT 2008, 2009 and 2010 results provided a clear idea about the law schools preferred by aspirants across the country. Naturally, Law Schools admitting students on merit or marks basis or Law Schools providing for State reservations or domicile restrictions got lower scores as they tend to reduce competition and are unable to get the brightest students on their campuses from across the country.
Student Performances in Moot Court Competitions
Moot Court Competitions have become an important aspect of law school life and learning process. They also showcase law school talent at national and international fora in an effective and scientific manner. As the participants in good moots are judged by none other than the Judges of the higher courts or top advocates or senior professors from top law schools, the moot court results provide a reasonable basis to judge the law school student quality. We collected data from various sources including from law schools’ moot court societies and their websites but we would like to put on record the contribution of LegallyIndia.com – a popular legal website and the data provided by it about moot court results for the year 2009-10 and 2010-11 under the heading Mooting Premier League or MPL, which helped us in allotting scores to various law schools in this category.
Student performances in Extra Curricular Activities
We allotted scores to the law schools also on the basis of the performances of their students not only in the moot courts but also in other academic and intellectual activities. We listed student publications for every law school wherever possible. We also considered participation and winnings in All India Essay Writing Competitions organized by some reputed legal organizations. We included their participation and performances in lectures and debates, seminars and symposia, annual law school fests, etc. We particularly analyzed the law students’ performances in the debates hosted by NLSIU, colleges of Delhi University like St. Stephen’s (Mukerji Memorial), Hindu, Kirori Mal, LSR, etc.
Internships have become an important part of law school learning process. We studied the law school websites, placement brochures, etc. to find where exactly our law students are interning either compulsorily as a part of law school curricula or on their own. Very few law schools had global internship and it was certainly a plus in their favour.
III. Law School Infrastructure and Law Library (100 Points – 20%)
We divided 100 points in two equal parts viz. Infrastructure and Library while computing scores for law schools in this parameter. We considered following details to arrive at the scores:
Campus infrastructure and I.T. Infrastructure
We recorded the infrastructural facilities provided in each law school campus viz. lecture halls (whether IT enabled or not), auditorium, seminar room, moot court hall, hostel facility for students and residential facility for teachers. All National Law Universities except few had a clear edge in this criterion. We also studied the I.T. infrastructure of law schools recording the number of computer terminals they have, whether most of the students have computing facility / internet or not.
Law Library – Books, Journals and Databases
The richness of the library of law school is something one can bank upon while selecting a law school. We recorded the number of books, subscription of international and Indian law journals and subscription of Indian and international legal databases like Westlaw or Manupatra for every selected law school. We also allotted points for the number of bound volumes for reference, sitting facility and timings of the library as well as for computerization of the library. About many law schools, we found data of new books they have purchased in last few years.
IV. Law School Placements and Alumni Support (100 Points – 20%)
While allotting points for the placements, we went through all the placement brochures of different law schools of last two years. We made a list of recruiters for each of the law schools and studied the reputation of the firms / companies / organizations visiting law school campuses. In addition to other sources, we also relied upon the information provided by two popular law portals viz. LegallyIndia.com and Barandbench.com in providing some authentic data on the salaries being offered to fresh law graduates. It was a little disappointing to note that except National Law Schools and few Private Law Schools like Symbiosis and Amity, very little information on law school placements is available in public domain.
We also included the list of students from every law school winning top scholarships like Rhodes and all those students securing admission to foreign law schools. Alumni activities from different law schools’ portals were also collected to consider the alumni strength and support to their alma mater.
I - Law School Academics
II - Law School Student Quality & Achievements
III - Law School Infrastructure and Law Library
IV - Law School Placements & Alumni Network and Support
** RGSIPL, IIT Kharagpur provides a specialized 3 year LL.B. in I.P. Laws open exclusively for B.Tech or M.Sc. graduates.
Our advisory for Law Aspirants
Law Aspirants are generally a highly aware and intelligent lot of students. This ranking aims to provide just a guidance material for them and they should not take it as binding and final. We advise the students to do their own research before taking any final decision about their admission to a particular law school. It is always advisable to visit the campus, talk to the students, alumni and teachers and then weigh all the options in one’s hands before taking a final call.
The LU team wishes all the law aspirants the very best for their success in the law entrance exams and admission to their desired law schools in the year 2011.