Dr. Sapna S, is a Professor of Law and Head of Department – School of Law, CHRIST University, Bangalore and is an educational consultant who provides strategic advice on implementation of gender friendly initiatives and actions. She has a doctorate degree from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, and a master of laws degree and bachelors of law degree from University Law College, Bangalore. Dr. Sapna S. has previously taught at the Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies and held the position of Dean at the Presidency University, Bangalore.
In this edited interview to Bar and Bench she talks about the impact of COVID-19 on methods of law teaching, various academic initiatives taken at the School of Law, CHRIST University Bangalore to accommodate the difficulties posed by the pandemic on both teachers and students, and provides advice to students who are keen to pursue careers in academia and legal advocacy.
As a law academician for over 20 years, in what ways do you think the pandemic has changed the traditional class-room teaching methods? Do you like the new teaching methods imposed by the pandemic on teachers and students?
Yes, the pandemic has definitely overhauled the traditional class-room teaching methods and introduced some novel ways of student-teacher interaction.
This new form of online teaching has both its advantages and disadvantages. While, it may be difficult to keep students completely attentive, engaged and excited about class participation via online means, online teaching does help in saving commuting time and promotes greater and quicker collaboration across boundaries. This in turn gives students access to international training and certification courses, and an opportunity to understand a subject from specialists across the globe. Besides, the pandemic has opened up new avenues of online internships which students can undertake from the comforts of their home. In this way, the pandemic induced online form of communication has brought about a holistic resurrection of the Indian legal education system.
I have personally benefitted from the massive open easy-to-access online courses that have been made available on the world wide web and learnt to use technology for better student engagement. Also, at Christ University we have invested heavily in training our teachers to make a seamless transition to the new form of teaching mode.
As the Head of Department, can you please discuss some academic initiatives taken at School of Law, CHRIST University Bangalore to accommodate the difficulties posed by the pandemic on both teachers and students?
At Christ University, we realized how the pandemic may end up adversely affecting the mental health of administrators, faculty and students. Therefore the management designed various academic policies, which on the one hand promoted more online assessments and creative class engagements amongst students and teachers, and on the other, focused on students spending lesser screen time on their computers. In short, we took active steps to ensure a balance between strengthening the academic life of students by arranging for diverse guest lectures from across the globe, and ensuring that counselling facilities were also readily available for our students’ emotional health and security.
You have been a consultant with the Department of Labour, Government of Karnataka and worked extensively on gender capacity building and legal advocacy. What would your advice be for students who are keen to pursue this area of law?
I would urge students keen to pursue a career in legal advocacy to to get involved and focus on gathering systematic research experience. Such experience definitely gives an edge to anyone wanting to pursue a career in consultancy.
As consultancy involves the application of academic experience and field work, there is immense scope for students to use their knowledge to make a real difference to the society at large. Also through consultancy work, the students after closely engaging with members of the society also stand to gain a paradigm shift in the way they understand and interpret laws.
Lastly, as an experienced academician what would be your advice to young law students looking forward to a career in academia?
Academia keeps one young, spirited and innovative. Although academia comes with a huge responsibility to rightly direct young minds to their full potential, it is an immensely satisfying career that allows one to be an integral part of so many young persons’ life.
Given that the subjects of space and law, education law, privacy and data protection laws, gender and diversity studies, and laws relating to artificial intelligence, block chain technology, cyber security, cyber forensics, alternate dispute resolution mechanisms, are popular emerging subject areas, students will do well to pursue and have more in-depth understanding in these subjects so that they are intern able to teach these subjects to future generation of lawyers.
This interview is conducted by Campus Ambassador, Naga Sai Srikar HK.