UPES has taken another step towards bridging the gap between industry and academia. In line with the guidelines released by the University Grants Commission, UPES School of Law has appointed top legal practitioners as Professors of Practice to inculcate practical skills among students through their vast industry experience.
With the goal of bringing real-world experience and market practice in the classroom, UPES School of Law has taken another step of appointing Professors of Practice (PoPs). This is in accordance with the recently released guidelines by University Grants Commission (UGC) under which higher education institutions can hire industry experts from various sectors through a new category of positions called Professor of Practice.
PoPs are renowned professionals and experts in their domain, with at least 15 years of service or experience, preferably at a senior level. A formal academic degree, like PhD, is not considered essential for this position since they have exemplary professional practice in lieu. These experts are also exempted from the requirement of publications and other eligibility criteria stipulated for the recruitment of faculty members at the ‘professor’ level. They provide students with valuable practical training, necessary to thrive in the real world.
Talking about how PoPs can help in providing holistic education to students through their experience, Abhishek Sinha, Associate Dean, UPES School of Law, says, “At UPES School of Law, one of the important elements is to focus on clinical legal education, which involves learning the practical skills of research, court craft, advocacy, counselling skills, negotiations, and legal drafting skills. Understanding the market practice and the commercials around the transaction differentiates a regular lawyer from a sought after lawyer. The Bar Council of India and UGC recognise the involvement of practising advocates and professionals in the teaching and learning process of law schools. Towards this end, UPES School of Law has a policy on the appointment of PoPs, which essentially is an engagement of senior practising advocates and eminent legal professionals. This is in line with international best practices followed by several top foreign universities and law schools.”
Senior partners of top Indian law firms, Directors/General Counsels/India Head (Legal) of top MNCs and Indian Corporates, Retired Supreme Court (SC) /High Court (HC) Judges, top legal practitioners practising at HC/SC will be considered for the position.
They will be appointed for a period of one year and their tenure will be renewable with mutual consent.
PoPs will teach regular semester courses (entire course) and their sessions are not just ad hoc or one-off master classes. This will immensely help students to understand the practical nuances and applicability of laws. It will be a perfect blend of practical knowledge and theoretical learning.
Among the recently appointed PoPs at UPES are distinguished names such as Mr. Sajit Suvarna, Deputy Managing Partner, DSK Legal; Mr. Vineet Shingal, Partner, Khaitan & Co; Yoghesh Bhattarai, Senior Partner, Trilegal; and Aakanksha Joshi, Partner, Economic Laws Practice.
“It is important for students to be initiated into the world of law to prepare them for the realities of working in the legal industry, be it a law firm, in-house, or judicial services. The idea of PoPs teaching is to ensure that there is a seamless transition for students from college to the workplace, so students know what to expect and the professionals that they work for also get seasoned students,” explains Aakanksha Joshi.
Echoing her sentiments, Sajit Suvarna says, “When I became a lawyer, I realised that what you learn in law school is the law as it was framed. However, the way it is implemented and applied in real life is different from what we are taught in law schools. While you may have the knowledge that you get from the books, it is important to get the real-life practice that probably comes with a few years of experience. That is why, having professionals, who represent a particular industry come, and share their experiences is essential.”
Lauding UPES for taking the lead in the appointment of PoPs, Vineet Singhal reiterates the importance of learning from the practitioners. “It is not just good for the students; it also gives us practitioners an opportunity to interact with the new generation and see how they think,” he emphasises.