Apprentice Lawyer

Has India Today finally got its law school rankings right? (Hint: Not a chance)

Aditya AK

It’s that time of the year again. If the 2017 edition of the India Today Rankings of the top law schools of the country was riddled with half-truths and glaring omissions, the 2018 version has effectively said, ‘Hold my beer’.

To its (very little) credit, the India Today Rankings have got one thing consistently right over the years – the fact that National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore is widely perceived as the best law school in the country. Precious little else is accurate, with some “facts” bordering on ludicrous.

Take for example the reported “average” annual salary for graduates of NUJS, shown as Rs 13 lakh per annum. Assuming this figure to be the annual average starting salary, anyone acquainted with the legal industry will tell you that only the top tier law firms offer annual starting salaries in this range.

To put things in perspective, take the recruitment figures for the 2017 NUJS batch. 78 out of 128 students were placed in various firms and corporates, out of which only 53 were picked up by the Big 7 law firms. Considering the rest of the students either opted for litigation, higher studies or joined NGOs and research organisations, the math simply does not work out.

This is just one of the many inaccuracies in the 2018 rankings, which like its predecessors, has proved to be an exercise in misleading the public.

And so, we embark on yet another Sisyphean task of revealing everything wrong with India Today’s evaluation of the “best law colleges” in India.

Greatest Misses

India Today reveals that universities like NALSAR, NLU Delhi, NLU Jodhpur, GNLU and Faculty of Law at Delhi University “did not submit objective data or refused to participate”. The question is, can you claim to have a list of the “best law colleges” in the country if most of the better ones are not considered?

Here is the list of the top 15 colleges:

RankLaw School
1NLSIU, Bangalore
2NUJS, Kolkata
3Symbiosis, Pune
4ILS, Pune
5Faculty of Law, BHU
6Amity Law School, Delhi
7Faculty of Law, AMU
8New Law College, Pune
9Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia
10School of Law, Christ University
11Faculty of Law, Lucknow University
12Army Institute of Law, Mohali
13MS Ramaiah, Bangalore
14BR Ambedkar College of Law, Vizag
15ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad

Here are ranks 16-40:

Another noteworthy fact is that only two national law universities have been deemed fit to make the list – NLSIU and NUJS. Granted, it is not the best time for NLUs across the country, in light of student protests and allegations of mismanagement. But surely, a lot of them ought to feature in the list ahead of some of the private law colleges that feature in the list.

Also, what in the world is St. Soldier Law College?

The omissions could also be down to the fact that more universities than revealed refused to participate in the study.

Section 2: Definitions (or lack thereof)

Any scientific survey ought to contain a methodology by which the results were arrived at. But as India Today has proved time and again, there is very little science behind its studies. Universities are ranked based on undefined parameters like “Intake Quality and Governance”, “Infrastructure and Living Experience”, and “Personality and Leadership Development”.

Compare this with the NIRF rankings, which defined every parameter on the basis of which law schools were ranked. Of course, this is not to say that the NIRF rankings are 100% spotlessly accurate (can any law school ranking be so?). But for an established publication to be so off the mark on a constant basis is unacceptable.

Little or no Value

This year’s edition also comes with a list of the top five law colleges ranked in terms of ‘Value for Money’. Here is the list:

Law SchoolTuition Fee for full courseAverage Annual Salary
NLSIU6,30,00014,50,000
NUJS7,32,00013,00,000
Symbiosis, Pune11,75,0009,60,000
ILS, Pune45,0008,02,000
Faculty of Law, BHU6,846N/A

At the outset, the tuition fee for the full five-year course at NLSIU is wrong. As per the website, the annual tuition fee is Rs. 80,000, amounting to a total of Rs. 4 lakh for the whole course.

Moreover, the tuition fee at law schools forms only a part of the total amount a student has to shell out. For the five-year course at NUJS, a student will have to around Rs. 2.4 lakh for the first year, and around Rs 2 lakh for subsequent years. This works out to upwards of Rs. 10 lakh for the entire course. Therefore, reliance on solely the tuition fee to calculate ‘value for money’ of a law degree makes little sense.

As mentioned earlier, there are discrepancies in the reported annual average salary for graduates of the above law schools.

Another fact that begs explanation is that while the annual salary for graduates of Faculty of Law, Banaras Hindu University is shown to be N/A, it has a score of 172.1 under the “Career Progression and Placement” head.

Long story short, India Today continues to set new standards for itself every year by publishing these rankings. While rankings are supposed to give prospective law students an idea of which college to join, this list does the exact opposite. It serves as little more than an advertisement for the lesser known law colleges.

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