An Interview with Dr. Prakash Sharma (Assistant Professor at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi)

Dr. Prakash Sharma joined Vivekananda School of Law and Legal Studies as Assistant Professor of Law. Mr. Sharma teaches and writes on a wide range of subject-matter areas such as Criminal Law, Administrative Law, Public International Law, and Legal Education. He is interested in the practice of public law with a focus on criminal law and human rights law.

He graduated from Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, and Master of Laws from Indian Law Institute. He has obtained his Doctorate award from University of Delhi. He is an Associate Member of Indian Society of International Law. Earlier he has worked at Faculty of Law, University of Delhi and Lloyd Law College. He has written a book titled Prison Privatization: Exploring Possibilities in India (2017). Besides these he has to his credit more than 40 publications that include articles, chapters in book, book reviews, Review Articles, Conference Proceedings, etc. He has also contributed both as an author as well as resource person to the UGC e-PG Pathshala project.

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

I would describe myself as a “Student of Law”. I hail from a small town in Uttarakhand called Haldwani. I finished my schooling in Delhi and thereafter pursued my law graduation and Masters degree from Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, and Indian Law Institute respectively. In 2019, I completed my Ph.D. from University of Delhi. My areas of expertise are in Criminal Law, Administrative Law, and Public International Law. Presently, I am working as an Assistant Professor at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi. Earlier, I had worked as an Assistant Professor, at Faculty of Law (University of Delhi), and Lloyd Law College. I have also worked as Research Assistant and Research Associate for projects at Indian Law Institute and Indian Society of International Law. Besides these, I have published in both national as well as international journals and books.

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

For a variety of reasons, I wanted to study further after college, would probably be the first reason. Besides, I also wanted to do something socially and politically useful, and a friend mentioned to me that the deadline for applying for the LL.B. from Faculty of Law, University of Delhi was a couple days away. I registered myself, sat for the exam, did well and got into the prestigious Campus Law Centre of the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. From the outset, while studying law, I gained the essence of hard work, determination, and sheer force of will. So I continued with my studies and today I feel proud for my decision to opt for law. It helped me in improving my standard of thoughts, skills and knowledge. And it also developed a sense of both courage and support, on which I can stand for the rights of other’s and my own.

3. You Completed Your LL.B from Delhi University and LL.M From Indian Law Institute. Tell Us About Your Law School Journey.

The journey of law started from 2010. Both law graduation and Masters had an impeccable impact on me. While, Delhi University developed basics of law, Indian Law Institute contributed towards building a law researcher within me. Both institutions gave me the best facilities and amenities that one would require, from experienced Professors, good collection of books, and subscription to good law journals and databases at library. I utilized these resources and as the saying goes “success is a matter of choice and can be achieved only by hard work”, I continued with my hard work thereafter.

4. How important do you think mooting or any co-curricular activity is in shaping one’s future career in law?

I believe that mooting or any other co-curricular activities are crucial part of a law student’s life. These activities hone the debating, researching, legal writing, and value building skills in the students. We know how classroom based knowledge is 80-100% theoretical in nature (depending on teacher skills), so in order to prepare lawyers for future it is important. Therefore, greater emphasis needs to be put on participative activities. Besides, apart from skills, Law Schools are required to improve communication, promote confidence, reduces stage fright, articulation skills, etc. all of which are the “must haves” for a successful professional.

5. What Kind of Internships Did You Do While You Were A Student? Any Remarkable Experiences During Your Internships That Shaped Your Career Choices Later?

I have had various internship experiences during my law school. In the beginning years I started Internships under practicing advocates to learn the basic functioning of a court, at the same time I got acquainted to the duties and responsibilities of an Advocate, court mannerism etc. My second Internship was with the NGO, wherein I came to know about ground realities. I would recommend for every law student to undergo the experience of working under a NGO. The third Internship was under a Judge. This perhaps was an eye-opener to realize my true worth. The rigorous training with time bound deadlines compelled me to rethink about my decision for opting law as a career. Nevertheless, I accepted the challenges and continued with the efforts to make myself better personally and professionally.

6. How important a role do you think law school plays in shaping one’s career?

The primary work for every law school is to develop critical thinking and laying down a platform that can understand, with a deeper analysis, the changes and reforms that happens around oneself. Indeed, this could be done with a proper theoretical and the practical training of young minds. There is equally another important task for law schools i.e. to infuse ethical vision. As we are witnessing remarkable changes both in the legal profession and in the society, there are some serious doubts to the realization ethical vision of lawyering. Perhaps, here the role of successful law schools, especially Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies (VIPS) deserves special attention. It function with an objective of “Man Making, Character Building, and Nation Building” and this where, in my humble submission, the focus of other law school should also be centered around.

7. Describe your teaching style. How do you define good teaching?

If the aim of teaching is simple and it is to make student learning possible, than to teach is to make an assumption about what and how the student learns. And perhaps, here the role of teacher becomes crucial. So my focus is to develop measures that can locate and understand the content first, and thereafter I focus on creation of a learning environment. My experience suggest that such an effort encourages students to think critically and express their thoughts in a manner wherein they can confront and resolve difficulties rather than gloss over them.

8. You can be best described as an academician. When did you realize that academics is the place where you can excel professionally?

No, again I will say I would prefer to be called as a “student of law”.  In so far, the second part of question is concerned, I believe (as I have said earlier too) the initial few days of my law graduation at Faculty of Law, University of Delhi made it clear that I should continue my legal education. In the meantime, I realized how crucial in the teaching role and like I said it before exploring challenges is my forte, I joined academics.

9. Where Do You See Yourself Five Years from Now?

Five years ago, I wanted to be where I am today. So five years from now, I believe it must be a realistic target. I have already written a book in 2017, so the first goal would be to continue this effort and bring another. I am working on an edited volume titled Clinical and Continuing Legal Education: A Roadmap for Future (will be coming out soon) and The Emerging Trend in Consumer Law (forthcoming). There is also a desire to seek newer challenges. So probably work on projects wherein I can showcase my other unexplored talents would be the second agenda for future. Thirdly, simple yet difficult, I want to keep the fire of targeting excellence alive within me.

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

One of the most essential requirements for every law students is to develop the habit of legal writing. Be it memorials, blogs, student journals, research papers etc. It helps in many ways, perhaps what I have understood is the fact that serious legal writing compels thoughtful reading, and it is this reading that leads to exploration of an unfound world.

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

Teaching is the best job. Like me, many other enthusiastic teachers enjoy every bit of their job. Of course, it has its ups and downs but on the whole it’s a fulfilling experience. In fact, nothing gives a teacher a more satisfying reward then a believe that youngsters who will leave law school will receive decent grades and have a bright future.

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