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Jindal Global Law School launches LLM; Dean responds to critics

Jindal Global Law School - Professor Raj Kumar
Jindal Global Law School - Professor Raj Kumar

Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) has launched its LLM programme a year ahead of schedule, hoping to attract professionals who want to gain the qualification in two years while working.

Around 100 students will be selected for JGLS' LLM course on the basis of merit and results to a special Law School Admission Test (LSAT) in May that is different from JGLS' undergraduate LSAT, explained Professor Raj Kumar, who is JGLS' founding dean and vice-chancellor of its umbrella body O.P. Jindal Global University.

Kumar (pictured) said: "[The LLM] was planned in 2011 but we decided to do it early because we have got the necessary infrastructure and faculty. We have recruited 15 faculty members and the classes will begin in August 2010."

Classes will be held on weekends and in evenings, with the degree being awarded within two years. The LLM initially starts with specialisations in international trade law, corporate law and intellectual property rights.

"We are very excited about this programme as it hopes to fulfil an important void in India to pursue LLM programmes," said Kumar, "as part time programmes are not very reputed and it takes three years. We are offering a full time programme which can be completed in two years like any other regular LLM programme without quitting your job."

"We would like lawyers, bureaucrats, diplomats, judges, journalists and other professionals who are having a full time job to undertake this course without leaving their jobs," he added.

The course fees for the LLM are Rs 4 lakhs (around $8,500) per annum, with another optional Rs 1 lakh per annum for JGLS to provide all accommodation and meals.

The faculty will be shared with the undergraduate five- and three-year LLB programmes that were launched last year, with a current faculty to student ratio of 1 to 10.

However, Kumar insisted that JGLS would maintain a faculty to student ratio of no more than 1 to 15, which he said was three times lower than the minimum recommended by the Bar Council of India.

The launch of JGLS' LLM programme follows last week's launch of a full-time MBA programme by The OP Jindal Global University.

Kumar told Legally India: "There will be a lot of interdisciplinary work between the MBA and LLB."

Legally India also asked Kumar to respond to readers' comments of last week, particularly on whether JGLS' faculty was the best in India, how the law school justified its comparatively high fees and whether the quality of students and LSAT takers was lower than it was at the national law schools that depended on the more popular Common Law Admission Test (CLAT).

Kumar said: "In addition to regular full time faculty members with global qualifications and experience who are working at JGLS, we have created an institutional framework in which distinguished professors from the top law schools of the world take up full time visiting appointments at JGLS. They are actively engaged in teaching, assessment, evaluation and mentoring of our students.

"In the current semester, a distinguished professor from Yale Law School [professor Peter Schuck] is offering a course on 'American Society, Government and Law' to our students.

"This arrangement that JGLS has adopted is fundamentally different from the practices adopted by many law schools in India, where visiting faculty members are largely engaged in giving occasional seminars and guest lectures to faculty and students and rarely teach a full fledged course."

In respect of the fees he admitted that the fees were higher compared to other Indian law schools, although others had increased their fee in recent years and in comparison to the price of legal education in the US it was still cheap.

"Our mission is to promote global legal education in India and to provide better access to high quality education within our country. But even this fee is hugely subsidised to our students due to the endowment and philanthropic nature of this initiative, given the fact that what we offer to our students is extremely valuable in terms of the global educational opportunity and life experience," he said, adding that the infrastructure was world class, faculty remuneration was attractive and over Rs 2 crores of scholarships were awarded in the last academic year, which he hoped would increase significantly in future.

He said that in the first academic year JGLS admitted 100 students out of 500 LSAT takers. "It is important to note that when the NLS Bangalore was started in July 1987, there were 150 students who took the admission test conducted by NLS Bangalore and 50 students were admitted. Over the years, the new National Law Schools were established and the number of students who started to take the entrance exams also increased.

"New institutions have a historical growth trajectory that needs to be kept in mind while making any assessment," he added and noted that while LSAT was established in the US, it was new to India and he expected that more institutions would be adopting LSAT-India in future because it was based entirely on a multiple choice format in areas such as logical and analytical reasoning and reading comprehension, rather than CLAT's general knowledge, legal aptitude and mathematics sections.

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