An Interview with Mr. Siddharth Balani (Assistant Professor UPES, Dehradun)

1. How Would You Like To Introduce Yourself To Our Readers?

I am an Assistant professor of Law at the University of petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun presently. I am a law graduate and completed my graduation in Law from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, itself in the year 2016. I then went on to complete my post-graduation in Corporate Laws from National Law, University, Jodhpur in the year 2017. Thereafter, I joined the academic profession in the year 2017 itself when I joined Jaipur National University, Jaipur and worked there for around 2 years. I joined my Ph.D at National Law University in the year 2019 in the area of Competition Law. Overall these years of learning law, which I still am learning with each passing day, I feel I have developed a keen interest in the field of law, with my areas of interest surrounding Corporate Laws, Energy Laws, Insurance Laws, Criminal Law as well as Constitutional Law.

2. What Inspired You To Choose Law As Your Career?

As a student during my Senior Secondary years, I felt a sense of inclination and developing interest in politics, current affairs and legal reforms as well as legal protections made available to individuals. This fondness and a keen interest in all such thing helped me to decide to pursue a career in Law. During my years at the college during graduation, I decided to join academics and therefore went on to pursue my Masters. I found a great opportunity to complete my Masters from National Law University, Jodhpur in Corporate Laws.

3. Tell Us A Bit About Your Study Time During College Life

I was a very dedicated and sincere student even during my school times. I continued to be the same at my Law School as well. I was a very inquisitive student and always occupied a seat in the front row. I also used to focus and learn from classroom teaching and always had many many doubts and inquisitive queries that my teachers always addressed. This helped me develop critical thinking and kept me engaged in classroom discussions. Also, the habit of getting my queries resolved during the classes was a great habit of mine that helped my come out of the class with my fundamentals and basics sorted! I was also very active in terms of extra-curricular activities such as Moot Court Competitions, Debates, etc. and used to participate in all possible events that I could manage. I further developed upon my research skills during my post-graduation days as we had to undertake many research activities and submit term-papers, projects and dissertations for the same.

4. What Areas Of Law Fascinated You The Most As A Law Student?

As a student of law, there were various subjects that I found interesting. Some of these subjects included Contract Law, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law and also specifically Energy laws. I also had the opportunity to specialize in Energy Laws in my graduation itself. Apart from these subjects, I also was interested in learning Electricity Laws. When I moved towards choosing my specialization during my Masters, I decided to explore the field of Corporate Laws. It covered a wide range of interesting subjects like Corporate Governance, Investment Law, Competition Law, Corporate Finance, etc. The most interesting out of these was Competition Law and therefore I decided to undertake further research in Competition Law as a part of my Ph.D, which is still ongoing.

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

The answer to this question definitely has to be a YES!! I firmly believe that mooting exercises, debates, publications and all such co-curricular activities enhance the knowledge of law students and for the same reason, I used my participation in such activities, largely Moot Court Competitions. They help students in being engaged in continuous research activities and also help develop their personality by such exposures. Online Courses have also gained a lot of importance these days as they help one develop detailed understating of certain specific areas of interest, and they are of great help when the subject is not necessarily a compulsory paper, but the student wants to explore it.

Talking of Internships, they are just simply essential for all law students! It greatly helps a student explore the practical aspects and particularly if it is about Court Room exposure, whether through working with lawyers or with firms. For penultimate and final year students, it is even more important as they may explore and find an opportunity to work at places where they intend to end up after completing their studies. So, this can work as a great opportunity for them!

6. Did You Ever Had An Internship Experience During Your College And How Much Internship Is Important For A Law Student?

As said before, I had always been a very active student during my college days and explored all opportunities of participating in such extra-curriculum activities. I have done many internships during my five-year course so as to gain practical insights and exposure. I have interned at the Chambers of Sr. Adv. Praveen H. Parekh, Supreme Court of India as well as law firms like Sehgal &. Sehgal, Delhi and DMD Advocates, Delhi. I also got an opportunity to do my internship at the Corporate Law Department at Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC). I also interned at NALSA, Delhi for about a month during my college days. All these internships helped me have practical experience and also kept me engaged during by semester breaks. I believe that this was one of the best habits that I inculcated in myself as a student and that all students must explore such opportunities as and when one can manage.

7. Why Did You Decide To Take Up Teaching As Your Career Option?

Teaching, I believe, is a career option that keeps one focused and engaged in continuing to learn and explore forever! I believe it is one of the most interesting, dynamic and challenging professions that one can opt for after having obtained a degree in law. It, firstly, keeps one engaged in continuous research and learning and at the same time helps one to grow and be exposed to many many ideas that flow from the end of students towards the teachers. Every year you look forward to meeting new students with new brilliant minds and ways of thinking. This makes teaching more of a learning process where you get to explore new things with each passing day! This is any day a preferred way of learning for me. Also, I personally feel, that teaching is one profession that can never turn monotonous! One keeps learning, exploring and discovering a lot through continuous interactions with brilliant young minds. Though it has just been a few years that I have joined academics and have started teaching, I am happy with the choice that I have made and hope to continue enjoying the learning process for years to follow!

8. At Present, Along With Teaching at UPES, Dehradun, You Are A Doctoral Candidate At NLUJ. What Made You Pursue a Ph.D.?

Since I have chosen a career in academics, it becomes important for me to continue to learn. Apart from it being a prospected mandate for academicians, going for doctoral research is another great way to explore and learn.  Since I was done with my Masters in Corporate Law, I decided to go for further studies in the area of Competition Law. At this present time, getting to learn through research for my doctoral study and also teaching and interacting with students keeps me engaged.

9. The Best Experience And Success Habit You Would Like To Share With Law Students to Encourage Them

The entire duration spent at the Law School, both UG as well as PG, has been a great journey. In the initial years I was trying and exploring the ways getting used to law subjects, but towards the end, specifically the last year, things turned out great as I had a good time to explore internship opportunities and undertake research and attend conferences, etc. And also, I was looking forward to my Masters course.

The only habit that I think that helped a lot was the art of managing time that I learnt after my first year at the college. I used to be regular at attending classes and prepared for my exams well in time. I used to balance my studies and fun time, both. Since the University is located in Dehradun, and all the students, including me, came from different parts of the country, we had a lot of time that we could spare to study as well as explore all surrounding hill stations! Even after all of this, we could manage enough time for our studies. Group studies also became an integral part of my learning process.

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

I personally feel that I am too young and too new to the academic profession that I would not surely be able to give out any ‘advice kind of a thing; based on the little experience that I have today. However, for people who intend to take up teaching as a career, I would only say that teaching is one great way of learning. If one is dedicated and has the right spirit to first learn and then have the passion to teach as well, there can be no better career choice to make, apart from academics! One must appreciate the responsibility that comes with being a ‘teacher’ when many students look upon you for guidance, knowledge and support. I have seen a lot of people exploring different career options and parallelly joining academics as a backup option and actually ending up holding on to teaching because the first option did not practically work out. This, I feel, should not be the case. Only if one has that commitment, passion and dedication, only then can one truly be honest towards the profession and be someone who can inspire students to learn!

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