Read 20 comments in conversation as:
Rankings of this sort are very difficult to undertake simply because of the subjectivity involved, including in relation to the assessment parameters (which themselves aren't necessarily easy to freeze: who is to say which parameter among the group should be given greater weight relative to another, etc.?). Even within the same firms, not all teams are equal, with some teams being quasi-firms in and of themselves, with very well oiled machinery particularly in terms of documentation, which elevates their ability to run deals relative to other teams, and some other teams being dead wood with subpar attorneys and work product.

That said, and on the basis of the following parameters: (1) quality of mandates; (2) quality of attorneys (very subjective -- even in the same deal, it's hard to really pinpoint as an outsider, which firm's workmanship was better/contributed more); (3) quality of work-product; and (4) ability to manage deals, my informal opinion (having worked in some of, and across, the Big '7') from a GC standpoint.

1. AZB (Mumbai office - the Delhi office is simply not in the same league);
2. SAM (Mumbai and Delhi offices - the others are okay, with some good teams but these two offices are the torch bearers);
3. Khaitan (Mumbai and Delhi offices - other offices are not in the same league by far);
4. CAM (Mumbai office is extremely strong, Delhi office has a few good partners)
5. Trilegal (Mumbai office takes the cake - the Delhi offices are terribly lacking in strong GC practices)
6. JSA (Gurgaon office followed by Delhi/Mumbai offices)
7. Luthra.

In my view, of the above, SAM tends to stand apart in terms of the quality of work product generally though AZB and CAM also have excellent teams and churn out good product. Khaitan's work product isn't at par with the above three, but not bad overall. Trilegal is quite good too.

Haven't worked across/in Luthra and JSA, so not commenting on them, but neither have of late been involved in very many great manda

Having said this, if specialist practice areas such as capital markets, disputes, competition etc., are also taken into account, the rankings would be revised as follows:

1. SAM: market leading arbitration/disputes, capital markets and competition teams, very strong GC practice, and reasonably strong but by no means market leading projects practice. Weak in tax.
2. Khaitan: very strong capital markets and GC teams, above average competition team (strong Delhi bias in this respect), strong disputes practice especially in Delhi, and second best in Mumbai after CAM, decent practice in IPR, tax, etc., as well.
3. CAM: very strong capital markets and GC teams, arguably the market leader in finance. Above average team in competition, tax, and similar areas, and the strongest player of the bunch in disputes (particularly among Mumbai offices).
4. AZB: very weak practice in disputes (though it does have some exceptional attorneys), capital markets, projects, tax, and a decent but not great practice in competition.
5. Trilegal: strong practice in projects, competition, but lagging behind quite a bit in GC, and very weak practice in capital markets, tax, and disputes.
6. JSA = Luthra.

Note - the above rankings are my personal opinion.
While rankings will always be subjective and not everyone will agree on this (including me), hats off for the thoughts and efforts put into it especially given it's only a comment. Your understanding of firms and practices is pretty solid - and I liked the way you broke it down. Backed with data, this could make a great read if you convert it into an article.

Just curious, how would your rankings change if you were to factor in employee growth, sustainability and work culture (a rough metric being low rate of attrition)?
It's difficult to talk about law firms in terms of practice areas on a consistent basis. One partner jumps ship, a big part of the business goes along with. And too many people play musical chairs these days.
Best example, Ashwath leaving CAM and jumping ship to AZB changed the fortunes of AZB
I don’t know if Indus is there or not but the big 7 has shrunk to big 6. Most clients don’t consider Luthra to be there anymore. The spot is up for grabs & Indus maybe is ahead of the others but surely not landed it yet. Next 12 months will tell the market. In fact if JSA isn’t careful they may drop out too & then we’ll have more contenders.
As per the market trend and an understanding of recent rankings in different practice areas, it can be concluded that Indus has definitely taken the place of Luthra and is a established Tier 1 firm now, specifically TMT and capital markets, in which it is definitely a market leader.
Luthra is definitely in the big league as of now. I just started following its linked in page and they have done some massive changes and upgrades since the breakup. They are getting good work too.
In all frankness, it is the big 5 now. I would say JSA has taken a beating over the last few years & Indus has grown a lot in size & reputation. I would put both of them in equal pedestal now. It will either be big 6 soon with one of them or big 7 with both. Luthra unfortunately is no more in the reckoning among its peers & clients.
It's just big 3 on top now - AZB,SAM and Khaitan.In any industry only top 3 matter
Luthra is doing decent work. May be it has become less flashier than before but it is still there. I am in-house and I can see the earnestness with which they are trying to rebuild. If at all there is a Big 7 then I will say JSA and Luthra are still either 6 or 7 or tied.
Here's the truth. Big 7 is a BS concept invented/promoted by Kian. He devised a placement ranking where you get, say, 10 points for a Big 7 placement, 2 points for a boutique law firm placement and 1 point for an LLM abroad, even with scholarship. He ruined legal education in India by doing this. His glamorisation of these sweat shops made students obsessed with getting jobs there and that too exclusively in corp law divisions. That was all they cared (and still care) about. The result is for everyone to see:

- Devaluation of other streams of law by students

- Devaluation of other branches of the legal profession, such as judiciary, think tanks, academia etc

-Culture of grade inflation: praise for bad teachers who grade well and criticism for good teachers who grade badly, creating a vicious cycle

- Toxic exploitation by seniors: those with corp internships/contacts are seen as influential and do whatever the hell they want
Wasn't it the RCCs that more or less invented the top tier (if not Big 7) by inviting them all for days zero?
There is no Big 7 anymore. In my view (as an observer, being a Partner from one of the firms named below), if you want a broad ranking of top-20 Indian law firms (not for specific practices) based on perception/reputation and capability, you can classify them in the following tiers (in alphabetical order for each tier):

Tier 1: AZB, CAM, KCO, SAM, Trilegal.

Tier 2: Indus, JSA, LKS, Luthra, S&R.

Tier 3: Argus, NDA, S&P, TTA, Veritas.

Tier 4: Bharucha, DMD, DSK, Linklegal, Samvad.
I make more than most (70-80%) of my peers in T1s. :)

Guess thats due to the revenue share thing in my firm.
There is only a top 6.Triegal has become ahead of JSA.That was certainly not the scenario 5 or 6 years back.But JSA still does absolutely top notch transactions and still represents the likes of Temasek and Barrings along with Naspers.These people will never go to Tier 2.The banking practice of JSA is certainly top notch.So, JSA with a lower headcount should definitely be Tier 1.
Wait for 2 years. Khaitan is going the luthra route. In few months mass resignations at associate levels and in another year or 2 desperate partners will move. Gain will be for Trilegal and SAM. It would be interesting to see if CAM, JSA, Luthra can poach before and bring themselves on top again like azb and Trilegal have been doing. Will they have the resources? We'll know in few months.