Lawctopus is launching a series of interviews called #DeanSpeak to collect see what the leaders of law schools in India think about legal education in India.
Our CLO Neha Singh interviewed Dr. Purvi Pokhriyal.
Dr. Purvi Pokhriyal is currently the Director and Dean of Institute of Law, Nirma University.
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your professional journey till now.
My name is Dr. Purvi Pokhriyal and I am the Director and Dean of the Institute of Law, Nirma University.
Well, you may say as a dean I am someone who is passionate to explore the innovative way of students’ engagement and constantly thinking as to how to make education experience enriching as well as enjoyable.
As a leader who believes in her team more than anything else. The team includes my faculty colleagues, administrative staff and most importantly my students and, parents.
Having completed almost two decades in the academic field, I am still feeling that every day is a new day and each day brings new hopes, new energy, and new ideas.
Well, I believe in active experimentation and firmly believes that experiential education gives the best learnings. I have been associated with Institute of Law, Nirma University for the last 12 years since its inception and before that, I was at Faculty of Law, MS University, Baroda.
I started my academic journey in a small college at Bharuch and Surat. I am grateful to my professors for infusing the academic spirit during my college days.
What motivated you to become a law faculty? What are the biggest pros and cons of this profession?
The first motivation to become a teacher comes from my dad, who himself was the part of the teaching fraternity. My professors during the LLM days also inspired me to join academia. I too an inherent inclination to join the teaching profession
The biggest pros being the part of the teaching community is that we always feel a sense of satisfaction because you are contributing to shaping the future of a group of individuals who ultimately contribute to building a better society.
The sense of immense satisfaction is there. As such no negative side. It is the most engaging and satisfying profession.
How did you enter the law school administration? What are the biggest pros and cons of this?
I have been in the administrative field from the year 2005. Initially as a Programme Coordinator of five years integrated programme at Baroda School of Legal Studies, MSU and thereafter here initially as an Academic Coordinator and since 2008 I was holding the charge of the Director, in between interval.
I have been taking full charge of the Director and the Dean from 2010. The best part of this position is you can lead, mould and shape the organization, set up a work culture as per your vision.
You are free to bring innovation in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and the students’ engagement. This requires a huge amount of devotion and hard work so at times your family becomes your second priority.
What is your vision for Nirma Law School?
The vision of Nirma Law School is to be the best law school in terms of teaching-learning and scholarship through constant innovation, creativity, and research. We focus on justice education believe that law schools have a larger role to play in realizing the constitutional goal of Access of Justice and promotion of Rule.
We are continuously working on internationalisation, new pedagogical tools, and innovative courses to make education experience globally competitive and locally relevant. We are trying hard through various measures so that our students are able to fulfill that diverse career aspiration and life goals.
The lack of good faculty members seems to be a perennial problem. What solutions/ideas would you propose to solve this?
Well, for good faculty I believe we need to strengthen our LLM programme.
We also had discussed with Professor Menon on this issue to explore the possibility to introduce a six month Law Teaching Diploma Programme especially training the LLM graduates on teaching methods, education, psychology, course conduct etiquettes, assessment, and evaluation.
Another measure is providing regular training and exposures to the faculty members. We can also think of establishing permanent Academy for law teachers for training and monitoring the progress of law teachers across the country.
In terms of the subjects being taught to law students and the pedagogy being used, what changes would you propose?
We need to identify core skills, core areas for domain understanding and values required as a competent legal professional. Each course may be categorized based upon these three factors and accordingly course specific pedagogy is to be applied.
Group learning, problem-based learning, simulation, experiential learning, and reflective practices should be given adequate weightage. Stereotype classroom lecture or PPT presentation may not serve the purpose to make students practice ready.
What are the biggest challenges you face on the administrative side of things? How do you resolve them?
The biggest challenge is to take all of your faculty and students to work during the journey of excellence with an equal amount of passion and zeal.
Making students believe in ethics and values and developing the right kind of attitude amongst the students for the profession at times become challenging tasks.
What are your thoughts about the use of technology in classrooms and online/distance learning courses?
Technology is to be used inside and outside the classrooms but should not be restricted up to PPT and emails. Usage of the right kind of technology demands change of mindsets of teachers and students too.
At times, students are accustomed to a kind of culture in the school days so to break their learning culture and inspire them to embrace the new culture of learning which requires immense amounts of self-learning, discussions, debate and a reflection on each aspect is very vital.
Flipped classrooms, model making, policy review research, problem-based learning, open examination – all these may be encouraged using technology.
Gamification in assessment and learning is also to be encouraged to amongst this generation of digital natives.
Please share your thoughts on campus placements not being up to the mark in law colleges as compared to business schools in the country.
Well, I do agree regarding the campus placement comparison, the law offers very diverse career options and at times students at the age of 22-23 unable to take a call.
Many of them aspire to do litigation and pursue judiciary. Few of them aspire to pursue higher studies abroad.
So focus and rigour for placement are different in compared to management. However, the scenario in this regard is improving every year.
Any parting words of advice for young law students and teachers.
My message to young law school and teachers is to be critical and creative in whatever you do. Be humble and grateful. Focus and pursue your dreams with utmost devotion and commitment.