Former Dean of SNIL on Legal education

If I had to describe Professor Prabir Kumar Pattnaik (the Former Dean of SOA National Institute of Law, Odisha), it would be in the words of the great author, Ruskin Bond – “A man of infinite resource and sagacity” Today we have him as a guest for interview on the topic of modern legal education in India.

Q. Thank you sir for joining us today. Before we start, would you mind introducing yourself to the readers?

A. Thank you so much for inviting me to the discussion. I am Prof. P.K.Pattnaik, Professor of Law.

Q. The first question is related to the lockdown situation we are in. As you know, due to being in constraint of space, the students are feeling mentally unwell, which manifest in the form of boredom, procrastination or in some severe cases depression. What do you suppose students can do to preserve their mental wellbeing?

A. Boredom, procrastination and depression are manifestations of mental state. Man is the only animal that can regulate his/her body and mind. Therefore, it depends how a student programs him/herself. To my understanding one must give priorities to the hobbies. Hobbies are your choice which you love the most. So explore them and bring out the best from them.

Q. That’s fantastic advice sir. Further, this lockdown has forced colleges to opt for one of the two choices – they can either go for an online exam or they can delay the semester. What I find is alarming is the fact that many colleges chose to delay the semester, why do you think that would be? And what is your opinion on conducting online exams in the format of say – 24 hour assessment tests?

A. Those who wants to depend on technology must have appropriate system to support. Otherwise go for the conventional system. Further, if you wish to hold online examinations, the Universities must amend examination rules.

Q. Similar to the earlier question, the students are losing a sense of structure due to the lack of classes. A solution to this may be found in online learning. But the same is not offered by our colleges. Is it due to the sudden announcement and the strange circumstances or because of the lack of infrastructure and know-how required to initiate online learning classes?

A. I told you, if you want technology, you must possess appropriate support system. Technology cannot replace the importance of human being. However, under difficult situations online teaching and learning is the best alternative. Currently, there are several institutions that are also extending online teaching facilities to their students.

Q. So, do you believe that after this corona scare people would be more mindful of going out and therefore opt for virtual services in all spheres including education? That is to say, would distance learning become the norm? If that is the case, what can our colleges do to answer this need?

A. According to the prediction of experts, it will take some time more than expected to eradicate the pandemic. Every one of us has to be very cautious and vigilant. Because, the novel coronavirus has mutated into at least 30 different genetic variations. It might comeback in new form. I hope, by that time new genre of vaccine will bring relief to many.

Q. It is always pointed out that law is a dynamic subject, however it has been observed and lamented that the syllabus for law schools are limited in their scope. Here, what can students do to keep themselves up-to-date with the changing course of law?

A. In India , specially at undergraduate level all professional courses offer basic rudimentary Curriculum and at masters level specialization courses are offered. Bismarck the German statesman once said laws are the manifestation of national character. As our character and requirement changes, Law accordingly changes. Yes, it is dynamic and a law students must understand those dynamics and human logic by reading relevant jurisprudence, judicial process and legal logic.

Q. What is your opinion on the current craze for judiciary or corporate sector jobs? What are the other streams, law students can turn to?

A. Job or profession, it is a personal preference of a law student. According to the norms of BCI all law schools prepare students for the legal profession. In recent years, as because judiciary offers a lucrative pay package, many are opting for it. In India, if you want a good job in any field, you must prepare yourself to appear the competitive examinations. Public Prosecutor, Assistant Public prosecutor, Bank Law officer, Law officer in PSU and Corporate sector, Legal Editing, Forensic science, Cyber law experts, Legal Advocacy and Counseling, ADR  etc are the other options.

Q. As a follow up from the previous question, litigation is not a sought-after profession due to the image of the stereotypical ‘vakil’ What do you think can be done to uplift this image and induce students to opt for this?

A. Legal profession is a professional service. It is up to the Advocate how efficiently he delivers such services to the clients. In every profession, one can experience different dynamics that controls the profession both positively and negatively. That is the part of the game. But, a law student not be bothered about those. Excellence always pays.

Q. Before we finish this interview I just wanted to know your opinion on the proposed legislation regarding the All India Judicial services exam?

A. Selection of Human resources is a complex process. I strongly believe that Judges are born. A judge is a person, who not only question the legitimacy and propriety of law but can equally question own logic from within. In a decade, very few Judges bring glory to the judiciary and rest are simply public servants.

Q. Thank you for your invaluable insight. Would you like to give any message for aspiring law students and law graduates?

A. A student learns and achieve expertise to serve the nation and humanity. When nation or humanity remembers you  are perfectly educated.Thank you  for the discussion

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