- Apprentice Lawyer
Dr. Bohra is a Professor and Director at the Amity Law School, Jaipur. In this interview with Bar & Bench, she discusses the ways in which her school has adapted to the Covid pandemic, legal education in India, and more.
Dr. Saroj Bohra: In 2008, I joined Amity Law School (ALS), Amity University Jaipur as a founding faculty member and soon was appointed as Coordinator for law programs and it was a rewarding experience because I think Amity helped me to groom as a professional.
When I joined Amity I noticed that Amity University has been technologically advanced as it has its own online portal Amizone where online attendance, uploading of study material, student’s grievance, results, Course Plans etc. has to be uploaded timely and teachers and students could have an access to it at any time from anywhere.
I learned to use technology in my teaching-learning process. We at Amity Law School focused on a lot of in-house faculty development workshops and training programs.
As the coordinator, I got the opportunity to host two national seminars, one national moot competition; represented ALS during the first two BCI inspections etc., involving in such activities honed my administrative and leadership skills.
I also had the opportunity to contribute to curriculum development by designing new courses and updating existing courses.
Amity offered many opportunities for me to enhance my professional skills both as an academician and administrator. Further, Amity University Jaipur has an ideal HR policy which helped me maintain an excellent balance between my personal and professional life.
Since I was associated with ALS since its inception and was conversant with its work culture, when I got an opportunity to re-join it was accepted exuberantly. I was glad that my contributions to ALS were acknowledged by the management. Furthermore, it was a pleasure to get back to my native State.
Talking about the future plans of ALS, we have identified prominent areas for growth:
Firstly, for Research & Innovation, the goal is to get recognition and grants from national and international funding agencies for implementation of research activities and also to register novel research innovation for commercialization.
Secondly, for Industry & Community Engagement the goal is to partner with the industry for better stakeholders connect, for this we have established an Industry Advisory Board too. For community engagement, the plan is to implement 'Institutional Social Responsibility' through value-added services.
Thirdly, for Academics the goal is to strengthen teaching and learning processes by adopting the latest technological tools; to enhance our state of art facilities for an all-inclusive development of students in order to attract diverse applicants. Yes, raising the bars in the academics and administration shall be on the forefront.
Dr. Saroj Bohra: The pandemic has affected the entire world and the education sector is not an exception. Due to lockdown and even post lockdown, as precautionary measures, education institutions are closed. It was an unprecedented situation and internet and technologies (a blessing in disguise) which has kept us connected with each other.
As I mentioned, Amity has always been technologically advanced and it was in practice to share course plans, attendance, material sharing on Amizone (Amity’s intranet) where each student and faculty member has their institutional mail id.
So, on the second day of the closure of university, course wise groups were created on Microsoft Teams where the concerned teacher and student were connected with their institutional email id by IT department, and classes began smoothly.
Teachers could record their lectures which could be referred by students in the future. Teachers conducted their class test, project or article or mooting presentations and took assignment submissions online. Beside regular classes, remedial classes were also conducted. We created groups with students, teachers and staff on social platforms so that we all are connected all the time.
Even End Term examinations for final year students were conducted online on the Amizone platform. Besides classroom teaching, a series of webinars and guest lectures by industry experts, govt. officials, alumni, and academicians on contemporary issues were conducted so that learning and sharing is not hampered. Students had been provided with remote access to online data resources like SCConline, Manupatra, All India Reporter online and many other free access links.
The Corporate Resource Centre assisted the student in appearing online interviews and students were placed in reputed national international companies like FHS, Law For, Nishith Desai Associates, Khaitan & Co., Amicus Legal, and Innodata to name a few.
We have conducted Board of Studies meeting, Ph.D. viva of three research scholars of ALS, SRAC presentations, SRDC meeting, departmental meeting, HOI’s meetings, Academic Council meeting, Online Farewell of final year students, hosted online competitions, Online Orientation of Fresher’s, Online weekly Mentor- Mentee meetings etc.
The pandemic has not changed the functionality of Amity Law School. Only the mode has changed from physical to virtual, rest all is as it is before pandemic.
Even now our new academic session is in full swing.
We are excited and hope that the learning opportunities of the future will reinforce, complement and to bring to life new and holistic experience for our students.
Although human touch and the joy of personal interaction is missed, but, according to me the only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and embrace it with grace and hope. ALS shall continue to innovate and to harness the opportunities provided by this crisis to leapfrog education to higher levels for Amitians.
So, now you could understand it’s indeed a privilege to be part of such a visionary institution.
Dr. Saroj Bohra: There are several benefits of the LL.B. law degree for those who have decided to pursue one of several careers in law. There are merits to both choices, but it’s important that you choose the right course for you and your interests.
The objective of five-year LLB is not any different from the three-year LLB program. The only difference is that the five year program also focuses on basic graduation level subjects apart from core law education.
Taking a three years course might be recommended if one is not sure about his current interests and one could enrol in it anytime as now there is no age capping to enrol in this course.
However, the five-year programme is more in demand because it saves one year of academics; gives you more time to build on and focus on extracurricular activities like MUN, Moot courts, client counselling etc. and you can undertake many internships (Internships are not common for general courses).
Nowadays, many institutes like ALS, Jaipur offer specialisations along with honours law degree. It prepares you for the profession vividly.
Dr. Saroj Bohra: Entering in a profession is entirely an individual’s choice, but I can assure that there is no "con" to being a law professor. Gone are the days when law was considered as the last choice.
I must say that legal education and law schools have taken a leap and have come to centre stage in the last few years. No academic program has seen this increase in the number of aspirants in less than two decades.
In today’s era we need academicians who can cultivate analytical skills, originality, and creativity, problem solving skills, none of which are taught or sharpened at schools.
So, if you join this profession you shall have dignity, name, fame and money.
Besides, I believe that an academician never grows old, you are always young and updated as you will always be surrounded by young minds.
Secondly, it gives you ample opportunity to research. You may author a book, you may get a patent, undertake consultancy or collaborative projects, be an external expert for viva and dissertations etc.
Thirdly, you may travel internationally to share your piece of knowledge by attending conferences and training programs or undertake faculty exchange programs or faculty internships.
Fourthly, joining a legal education institution is not just about teaching, and research, Keeping up with the changing needs of legal education, hosting events, mentoring etc. hones your leadership skills too.
Fifthly, this job is gratifying as it touches a life and creates professionals who contribute to society and nation building.
Sixthly, since it's a very noble profession you get huge respect in society especially from your students and even from their parents and relatives.
Lastly, being an academician you can maintain balance between work and personal life. I have seen a sea change in the last few years in the mindset of students as many express their interest to join academia.
In fact, I have seen many of my bright and meritorious students joining academia and doing considerably well.
Dr. Saroj Bohra: Well, I think legal education is an investment which if wisely made will produce most beneficial results for the nation and accelerate the pace of development.
A good legal education must offer law students a supervised, rigorous and disciplined opportunity to learn practical legal skills though clinics, internships and trial practice and negotiation courses.
This represents a superior way for young lawyers to gain skills rather than by running thankless errands for established lawyers who are often too busy to teach them.
So, according to me a good legal education must have balance between doctrinal and vocational education; up to date curriculum; establishment of centre of excellences; adapt new technologies in legal education; Use contemporary teaching techniques and adoption of the Outcomes Model; Continuous education and skill upgrades for faculty; maintain standards for faculty evaluation; must have fair examination and evaluation system.
Lastly it must cater to the needs of each student enrolled for the course.