An Interview with Dr. Ankit Singh (Assistant Professor of Law at JLU School of Law, Jagran Lakecity University)

1. Hello Sir, Please Tell Us Something About Yourself to Our Readers.

I am an academician by profession. I have a teaching and research experience of six years at Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal. I have done my graduation, post-graduation and Ph.D. from Barkatullah University, National Law Institute University and Jagran Lakecity University respectively.

I have spent more than half of my life in Bhopal so I have a deep connection with this city. I am fond of music and sports. As a hobby, I love to sing, write poetry and other literary pieces, and watch quality movies and TV shows. I believe in the philosophy of working hard and playing harder.

2. What Inspired You to Choose Law as Your Career?

To be honest, it was not my first choice. I was a science student and was looking forward to pursue my higher education in the same field. But destiny took an interesting turn, and I found myself inclined towards law. One of the prime reasons was the boom of five-year integrated law course back in 2006-07. Once I started by BALLB degree, I started developing an interest in the subject, both humanities and law. I also performed good in examinations and scored decent marks.

I am a judicial kid i.e. my father is a retired District Judge. This was one reason why I felt a deeper connection to the law as a stream of inquiry and logic. I used to have extensive discussions with my father about law and related concepts. His way of explaining concepts made me more curious and inclined towards the subject. Reading famous authors on Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Jurisprudence, etc. fascinated me and I found myself going deeper. By the time I reached the fifth year, it was not I who chose law rather it was law that had chosen me.

3. Please, Tell Us About Your Law School Journey.

As I mentioned earlier, I had taken admission into the BALLB course with the thought that law is booming the career domain and I might be able to find myself during my Law School life.

Switching streams is not an easy transition. You have to undergo a complete psychological overhaul. During my graduate days, I was focused on building my basics and grasping the nuances of the subject I studied. I knew that I had to prove it to myself that the choice of switching fields I had made was not a wrong move. It was not exactly an academic environment at Barkatullah University but I made sure that I reaped the benefit of whatever resources the place had to offer. I was also engaged in various co-curricular activities, after all graduation is all about exploring different dimensions of your own personality. That is what it takes to make you ready for a better career ahead.

However, during my LLM days at NLIU, my experience was amazing. I had found a very different side of college life perhaps because I resided in the hostel then. As I had developed an interest in the field, I chose intellectual property law as my specialization. I got to understand the basics of legal research at NLIU. It has played a vital role in shaping me into the academician I am today.

So, my BALLB days gave the will to strongly and fiercely face the challenges that were lying ahead, and NLIU provided me the launch pad.

4. Which Areas of The Law Fascinated You the Most as A Law Student?

Keeping aside intellectual property law which is my specialization and the area in which I conduct most of my research work, I developed a keen interest in law of torts, administrative law, contract law and constitutional law. As a law student, I tried to take interest in all disciplines. It is not easy to answer this question because I can’t put my finger on one subject and say that it was the most fascinating one. As a law student, you should be keen to explore and comprehend the laws that you study. You have to completely understand a provision before you can break it down for a layman who could be your client or your student who is just entering the field. I can assert at this point that the most fascinating thing about law is the law itself.

5. Do You Think That Mooting, Debate, Publication, Online Courses and Internship Are Important in Law Student’s Life?

We must understand the fact that 5-year integrated law course is a professional course whose primary objective is to ensure the overall growth of the students and turn them into polished professionals. Law Schools in India are determined to providing quality legal education, and therefore, they design their curriculum to meet the global standard. Considering the importance of argumentation and research skills, regular mooting sessions and students’ participation in moot court competitions is generally the prime focus of any law school. Debates and discussions also play a crucial role in enhancing reasoning, analytical and oratory skills of the students. The presence of a Moot Court Committee, Legal Aid Clinic and a Debating Society makes sure that students get opportunities to tap into their capabilities and develop their skill set.

To add to these core activities, training of students in legal research also helps them to produce quality research which consequently gets published in journals, conference proceedings, etc. A lawyer must be trained in conducting systematic research because it is important to build a case before you can argue it.

Law Schools across the country have also established ADR/Mediations cells, Training and Placement Cells, Student Research cells, etc. to ensure maximum exposure and expansion of professional networks.

Law profession has become more demanding than ever. Students with strong professional profiles are always preferred by top-notch law firms. Therefore, scoring internships and working hard to make a place for yourself during the internship period is one of the most important aspects of law school life. It is extremely delightful to see the law students around the country are determined to polish their resume by working with renowned law firms, law chambers, and other organizations. Many law schools including JLU School of Law have a compulsory summer internship component wherein students are evaluated on the basis of their report containing the details of their summer internship. This component automatically enhances the quality of their professional profile.

Online certificate courses always provide an edge to students. They are an added advantage to the portfolio. During COVID-19 pandemic, these online courses on various aspects of the law have gained wide popularity. I would strongly recommend the students to pursue one or two certificate courses only in the areas of their interest (i.e. ADR, IPR, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Health Law, Cyber Law, etc.) from reputed institutions (maybe foreign institutions). Do not go for too many of them.

In totality, all the above-mentioned elements are extremely important and play a great role in shaping a law student into a finished or polished law professional who is confident to face the ever-growing challenges of the profession.

6. If You Could List Out 5 Activities Which on A Scale of Priority, Should Be at The Top in Any Law Student’s School-Life, What Would Those Be?

I wouldn’t prioritize any particular activity as such mainly because in law school it’s all about finding a rhythm and sticking to it while hitting the right notes at the right time.

However, I can name five most important elements about which I always advise my students: (1) reading law books by renowned authors and thoroughly understanding their commentary; (2) engage in legal research and write good articles/research papers; (3) explore the mooter in you – participate in at least one big moot court competition and give it your all; (4) select your internship wisely and put in all the hard work – make a lasting impression; (5) pursue your extra-academic passion – singing, painting, working out, gaming, writing, cooking, dancing, etc. – it is very important for your mental health.

7. How Did You Decide to Go into Academics?

To be honest, it was not the original plan. Prior to my decision to pursue LL.M., I had already tried my hand at competitive examinations and corporate sector I qualified UGC-NET (JRF) examination alongside my LL.M. which paved the road for me to enter the teaching profession. I knew that I had to start somewhere.

When I started teaching, I found myself productive and engaged. In my profession, I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the brilliant minds. After a year, I decided to navigate the paths of academics. I decided to pursue my Ph.D. along with my assignment of being an Assistant Professor.

Classroom discussions have always been a great experience for me. I realized that being a teacher one can truly bring about a change in society by sowing the seed in fertile young minds. It is, of course, a huge responsibility and knowing that brings an inexplicable surge of power within you.

Being heard and respected by hundreds of students, it is a sublime feeling. I chose this role for myself, maybe not initially, but eventually. I try my best to do justice to this role. They say teaching is a noble profession. Then, how can a teacher be anything short of noble? Students look up to you, and it’s a place where one reaches with sheer passion and dedication.

8. When Would You Say That an Academician Is Successful?

The job of an academician is to explore his areas of interest and come up with innovative and useful ideas. Only a curious mind can kindle that curiosity in the students. Making an indelible mark in the field of academics, like any other field, requires patience, perseverance and determination.

I do not know how to define real success or real happiness. But when the research of an academician starts getting recognized and lauded, and his content delivery is admired by the students, one can say that he is on the right path.

9. The Best Experience and Success Habit You Would Like to Share with Law Students to Encourage Them.

As a law student, making a valuable contribution to your institution and getting that contribution recognized and rewarded is one the best experiences you can have. That contribution may be in a form of research, moot competition victory, victory in other competitions such as debate, sports, cultural, etc. Law school gives you an opportunity to shine and distinguish yourself from the crowd. Always strive to make your presence felt. It is important to build habits which take you closer to your goals. There is no defined success habit and it totally depends on the individual how he wishes to define his success and upon what journey he wishes to embark.

I would advise the students to keep themselves engaged in productive activities. It is extremely crucial to have a sense of purpose and zeal to accomplish something for the benefit of yourself, the institution and the society. Make the most of your time at your law school and explore all the opportunities and expose yourself to new experiences so that at the end of your law school journey you can confidently cement your position in the professional arena. Liberate yourself from the shackles of mediocrity. Think, act and achieve.

10. Lastly, What Would Be Your Message to People Who Want to Take Up A Career in Teaching?

Teaching is a profession of responsibility and compassion. Anyone can read about a particular thing and deliver it to the students. However, making them understand each and every aspect, addressing the needs of every student in the class as the academic caliber varies a lot, giving attention to their subject-related and sometimes even personal queries and making them feel comfortable, all these things require persistent efforts. Teaching, ironically, is not only about teaching. It is beyond that. Once you have understood the actual nature of the teacher-student relationship, you are ready for a career in academics. You must also realize that as a teacher you have to ensure continuous growth of your students as well as of yourself. Once you start growing as an academician your students will follow suit.

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