Indian law schools and the rankings game

After the previous article, a kind reader (one of twelve I might add) sent me this link to a speech given by Associate Prof. Rahul Singh of the National Law School of India University. The speech, made by Singh as the chair of the undergraduate council at NSLIU, is interesting for a number of reasons – a push for greater interdisciplinary studies, a focus on financial aid for law students, and raising the quality of academic publishing.

All this was spoken in the larger context of “breaking into” the QS World Universities rankings or “similar international rankings”. Which is an interesting statement to make primarily because I can’t recollect Indian law schools paying much attention to rankings. Apart from the NIRF rankings of course, but even there, participation levels have been quite low.

The yearly ones published by India Today, Outlook and a couple of others are also not really taken too seriously. Most institutes, at least the private ones anyway, prefer taking out full-page adverts in the rankings specials. Others either pretend to be above it all, or simply don’t bother to share the information asked for.

While I was at Bar & Bench, we did try to come up with a ranking scheme but eventually pivoted to the “Law School Darshan” series – this involved personal, first-hand accounts of different law schools. A few years ago, we did make another attempt at comparing different law schools through their faculty profiles. Again, not an ideal holistic comparison. But what has stuck with me since then has been the great reluctance of law schools to share information.

Which is why I will be very interested in seeing how NLSIU approaches the rankings. It is a long term process for sure, one that will require significant amounts of investments in faculty, research, and physical infrastructure.

But it is also a “game” in the sense, and this has been written by far too many people to be ignored, that one can always exploit the methodology to move up the rankings table.

Over all though, Singh’s speech is one of the few times I can recollect where a “national” law school has publicly declared a tangible, measurable goal. How, when and if it all NLSIU does achieve it will certainly make for a great study.

These are some interesting times for legal education. Of this I have little doubt.