An Interview with Kanika Dhingra (Assistant Professor of Law at NLU, Jodhpur)

1. Madam please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am a keen learner and a student of law, before being a teacher, and over years, have developed a strong sense of inclination towards the academic profession. I completed my graduation in law, B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Delhi in 2014 and my Masters in Intellectual Property Laws from National Law University, Jodhpur in the year 2016. I then joined the academic profession and started teaching at CPJ College of Higher Studies & School of Law (Affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi) from 2016 itself. I taught at the College for a year before joining my Ph.D. Course at National Law University, Jodhpur in the area of Patent Laws in the year 2017 and also started working as a Teaching Assistant at the same University. I am currently working as an Assistant Professor at National Law University, Jodhpur. Over approximately three years at the university, I have developed a further attachment towards my area of specialization having given an opportunity to learn and teach specialization papers such as Law Relating to IPR, Dispute Settlement in IP, Law of IPR in International Trade, Patent Specification, Drafting and Claim Construction, IP Valuation and Management and few more.

2. What inspired you to choose law as your career?

I honestly had never thought of pursuing a career in law, and especially ending up in a profession like teaching! It was largely a career counsellor who pushed me into a law course by convincing my parents somehow! I, on the other hand, had plans of pursuing a course in Literature from Hansraj College in Delhi University, which I was compelled to withdraw from. I was a very quiet and a shy person and never thought I could engage in public speaking and interactions. Giving my first ever Moot Court Competition and Class presentations literally sent shivers down my spine!! However, I developed great interest in law by the second year of my law school. I also was deeply inspired by few of my teachers during both, UG as well as PG courses, and this is what consequently developed a sense of passion in me for pursuing a career in teaching law. There were a lot of things that I felt were very interesting and intriguing. Subjects like Intellectual Property, Environmental Law, Family Law, Women and Law, Criminal Law, Cyber Crimes, etc. really got me engaged.

3. Tell us a bit about your study time during college life.

This is probably an answer that my friends could answer better!! But I’ll try and attempt to answer this very precisely! I was perceived as a total nerd, as they call it! But actually, I wasn’t! I did find a lot of things very simple and obvious and relatable and easy to grasp. This was largely because of two reasons I would say. Firstly, I used to love to attend classes and had a fixed seat in my class in the second row. I was more of an observant learner.  As I said, I was very quiet and shy and therefore, never participated in class discussions much. And for the same reason, not many teachers remembered me by my name. I still remember my Family Law teacher looking for me as I scored the highest in an internal exam, but she couldn’t recollect who Kanika was. But I used to enjoy listening and observing different opinions and also to put it down on paper! I had my notebooks completely over even before the semester ended. And I still hold all of them really close to my heart. Secondly, once I was done with my classroom study, I used to supplement them with my own notes prepared from books. And this is what half of my batch mates used to get photocopied and read from, followed by early revision classes that I had to deliver to them every morning before an exam! So I eventually I was taken to be a very studious kind of a person. Few of my friends still say that we knew you were meant to be a teacher! But I used to also chill with my friends at least once a week and watch all possible TV shows with my mom every night. I never took studies as a TASK!! But I never could compromise on what I was trying to learn.

4. What areas of law fascinated you the most?

Out of all the law papers that I ever studied at the law school, I think I learnt almost all the papers with equal interest and understanding, but Intellectual Property Laws and Cyber Crimes were my two favorites. I also was interested in Family Law as well as Women Laws. But there were papers like Sociology also that I had great interest in – that’s most likely because my teacher, Prof. Shilpa Khatri Babbar, was and still is, an amazing teacher!!

5. Do you think that Mooting, Publication and Internship are important in law student’s life?

I would not just call them important, but rather the “essentials” for a law student. For any prospective career after studying law, it is important to have a good research foundation and an exposure to practical work culture. All the three, mooting, publications and internships, keep you engaged in research and help you stay updated with changing laws and recent position of law. Apart from adding to one’s CV, it also keeps you motivated to look forward to such positive achievements. I myself never left any opportunity to engage myself in Internships during my law school. I was able to at least decide that litigation was not something that I would have wanted to pursue as I exposed myself to litigation culture and through my experiences, I could figure that out for myself that’s it is not something I would want to take up as a career option. I had interned under Lawyers as well as in Law Firm environment. I had also interned at National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Competition Commission of India and also at Karanjawala & Co. Though I enjoyed working at all these places as a student and got to learn a lot! I believe I had a thing for academics and the teaching profession and that this was my only calling meant to be!

6. Did you ever had an internship experience during your college and how much internship is important for a law student?

I had done many internships during my college time. Two of them were compulsory trainings that I had to undergo as it was a requirement for the award of the degree itself. I otherwise also left no opportunity unattended when I was at the Law School to have at least one good internship every semester break. I initially interned under Mr. Sanjay Jain, Advocate, Supreme Court after my second year. I thereafter interned at the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in 2012. My 2013 internships were the most interesting ones as I interned at the Competition Commission of India for the month of July and at Karanjawala & Co. (Advocates) for the month of August. This was the most fascinating time as I had two good internships back to back. I wanted to also have my final year internship at Courts so as to take my final call on trying litigation. In 2014, I interned under two lawyers for four months in all, who could give me an exposure to District Courts, High Courts as well as Supreme Court.

Internships are a very very important part of a law student’s life. It helps you get a practical experience, at least a trailer, of what is in store for you! It also helps one to try different kinds of internships at different places and decide what interests you the most. It also can be helpful in understanding and working on a specific dedicated area of law.

7. What should be the prime concern of a law student?

The prime concern for students should first of all be to fall in love with the idea of learning law! I would not say that one should try and have equal interest in each area of law, but having basic fundamentals understood is an essential requirement. One can further always develop a deeper understanding in specific areas of law on the basis of what interests you the most! For me, a simple mantra that worked and the one that I also recommend is that one should focus on simple classroom learning and read a lot!! This reading that I recommend is for one’s own intellectual growth so that students develop a critical thinking approach, apart from enhancing their knowledge. This is not solely for passing your exams! Afterall, qualifying exams and having a good CGP is the sole purpose for majority of the students!! But, I do not personally feel that all study should be for the purposes of passing and clearing exams at the end of the semester. This learning during your life at law school changes the way you look at things!

One should also always be engaged in some or the other academic activity, at least one at a time, such as Moot court Competitions, Debates, Essay Writing, Conferences, etc. Apart from that, one can always take out time during vacations to look for internships in areas of interest that one has. A few law schools which consider practical training as equally important often offer an opportunity to students to intern even during academic days.

8. The best experience and success habit you would like to share with law students to encourage them.

The best experience at law school was my last year at the college. We were engaged in research activities like seminar papers and dissertations, plus we also had an entire semester dedicated to internships! Having read almost all law subjects and with no major end-term exam stress, it was a really great time where we could explore all possible future avenues!!

With respect to sharing my success habit, I believe that my habit of being an attentive student during classes and then working on my own notes and reading helped me a lot in sailing through the five years of law school. It was also the same habit for me during my PG days as well. I also took the internal/ continuous assessment exams also very seriously so that at least a portion of the entire curriculum was done!  I was generally relieved before my end term exams for these two reasons – one that I had my notes ready, and second that I used to prepare well even for my internals so the burden for end-terms was almost gone.

9. Any suggestion or comments to the young lawyers and law students?

I would only say one thing here that law is an exceptionally interesting and intriguing area of study. I initially had no plans of pursuing law, but eventually I fell in love with it! It is just a little bit of dedication towards reading and a lot of reading that helps you feel that you are on the right path! I still consider myself to be a constant learner and I shall always remain a student of law as there is no end to law and legal knowledge! There are also a lot of career options after completing a law course and all are equally amazing!! Just read, discover and continue to learn as there is a lot in store for one to explore!

Read More Interview CLICK HERE

Law Corner

Leave a Comment