A recent article [paywall] in The Ken analysed the 2022 placements at Jindal Global Law School, arguing that GLS has gradually become a “worthy rival” to the older, more traditional National Law Universities.
Now whether recruitment numbers are an accurate marker of quality legal education, I leave it for the experts to ponder upon. Suffice to say that a lot of debate and discussion when it comes to law school rankings rests on recruitment numbers. And I don’t think this is likely to change in the near future.
What I found more interesting was how the article highlighted JGLS’s aggressive campaign to hire faculty from foreign universities, many of whom were Indian law graduates or JGLS alum.
Of course, some aspects of this hiring have come in for critique, like this anonymous post here:
Symposium on Systemic Racism and Sexism in Legal Academia: Racial Hierarchies and the Internationalization of Southern Law Schools
But I digress.
This aggressive hiring has meant two things – one, it provides attainable employment opportunities for Indian law graduates who have pursued a master’s abroad. The high salary is especially crucial for those who have student loans to repay.
Two, it means Indian law students are being exposed to faculty who have pursued higher education outside the country. As a result, higher education decisions will not only be based on peer and family networks, but on faculty networks as well.
And this is a crucial point – students now have direct access to those who have pursued higher education abroad. Theoretically, this will not only inspire students to follow similar pathways, but also result in greater access to information on higher education abroad.
Just as it did at other Indian universities as well.
More than a decade ago, the then VC of NUJS, Prof. MP Singh managed to attract faculty who had studied outside India. Which in turn, aided no doubt by Prof. Singh’s gentle guidance, encouraged many an NUJS graduate to follow a similar path.
The same could be said about other law universities such as NLU Delhi, Symbiosis Pune, NLU Jodhpur and NLSIU as well. In fact, NLSIU under the relatively new leadership, has started investing quite heavily in building a feeder route for faculty. This will be interesting to watch over the next decade or so.
But let us come back to JGLS – there is another aspect of this private law school that will continue to play a role in the Indian law graduate and aspirations for a foreign education.
The MoUs that JGLS has entered with foreign universities allow for the granting of dual degrees. An Indian law student can get a BA LLB from JGLS and a JD from a US law school (such as Cornell) in six years, instead of eight.
A lot of Indian law universities have entered into MoUs with foreign universities, but this has largely been limited to semester exchange programs or joint research activities at the most. The granting of a dual degree, as far as I know, is unique to JGLS.
But this can change and change quickly.
Newer law schools (and there have been a fair few of these) may very well see MoUs as a means of building institutional profile. In fact, a number of JGLS faculty have gone on to lead these newer schools, BMU and DY Patil are just two examples. Replicating the JGLS model, in terms of international collaborations, could very well be on the cards.
The national law universities, many of whom have a fully functioning placement and recruitment cell, may soon set up a cell to aid students who want to apply for a master’s abroad. From an institutional perspective, this would require minimal financial investment, and the benefits (higher prestige value) would be almost immediate.
What all of this means is that an education abroad is becoming more and more common amongst Indian law graduates, and these numbers are only going to grow. If ever there was a time for foreign law schools to look at India as a significant recruitment market, the time would be now.
And this is not hyperbole.
A recent ICEF report indicated that India outbound students might number to nearly 1.8 million by 2024. That is a staggering number.
Of course, LLM or JD candidates will form a tiny (tiny) fraction of this number. However, as is the case for a lot of India, this tiny (tiny) fraction can still translate into large numbers.
I won’t be surprised if foreign law schools double down on their India recruitments in the next five years or so. And reap some handsome rewards in the process.