Vaibhav Kakkar, Partner, Saraf & Partners, reflects on his journey at NLU Jodhpur as an alumnus of the institution’s founding group.
What was your personal experience of studying at the university? When did you graduate and what are the few notable moments that are etched in your college memories?
In 2006 I graduated from National Law University Jodhpur with BBA LL.B. (Hons.) and belong to the founding collective of the institution. The five years of college from 2001-06 to date are among the most memorable and meaningful moments of my life. These five years at NLUJ formed the foundation of my legal knowledge which has greatly contributed to the heights I have reached in my professional career. More importantly, NLUJ gave me a platform to develop my personality and helped me meet many like-minded people who have remained close friends to this day. I am very proud to have been able to witness the early years of NLUJ and to have helped develop the university into one of the leading law universities in India.
Please let us know which subjects and professors you like best. And why?
I’ve always had a soft spot for corporate law and ended up making my mark there as well. My interest in corporate law was sparked by my professor, Prof. Mitra, whose clear thinking and teaching skills are second to none. Not only did he let me understand corporate law in the truest sense of the word, but he also developed a commercial way of thinking in me that still shapes my decisions today. As a founding father, it was his vision and belief that enabled generations of students and professors to grow NLU J into the leading law institute it is today. He made sure to provide us students with all the resources needed to make us first class lawyers and most importantly, first class people. My academic inclination towards corporate law was also reflected in my career choice and helped me to get the recognition I deserved during my internships and eventually to join a commercial law firm immediately after graduating from NLUJ.
What would you say is the college’s USP?
When I started at NLUJ, it was the first institution of its kind to offer integrated courses combining law with management and science. NLUJ’s unique selling point has always been its academics, with top-class professors from across the country helping to shape the legal minds of the future. To provide students with hands-on experience, the university also offers Court Room Exercises (CREs) in various subjects as part of the curriculum. The CREs support the students in coping with a practical factual situation and in developing their legal thinking and argumentation skills, which form the basis for the start of their professional life. These skills have translated over the years into students winning the finest awards in moot court competitions across India and the world. Aside from academics, the university has a state-of-the-art campus with spacious dormitories and several sports facilities for the comprehensive development of the students.
Having spent a good few years in this profession, what areas do you think our colleges need to focus on in order to cultivate the legal minds the country needs?
Having spent over 16 years as an in-house counsel in leading law firms, I can say that law schools need to focus more on teaching students how to apply legal principles to factual situations. While universities can teach students the basic principles of law and the texts of mere laws, it is of paramount importance that students are guided to apply these legal principles to practical cases as well. A strong core of legal knowledge in combination with practical knowledge predestines the students for entry into corporate jobs after completing a law degree. I am pleased that NLUJ has recognized this need and started implementing initiatives such as the CREs, regular lectures with professionals, legal aid camps and emphasis on internships to cultivate and prepare future legal minds.
Future of Legal Education in India: What do we need to focus on immediately and how can we improve?
I think the steps taken to increase the number of national law universities and improve the standards of the existing ones were steps in the right direction. Making the world class legal education more accessible to different regions of India as well as more students will only improve the quality of legal minds produced in our country.
Is it possible to have a career in Jura with knowledge of the regional language and laws?
Yes, a lawyer can be successful with a good understanding of local languages and laws. A lawyer with such knowledge can be an excellent litigator in a district court or high court where the use of those particular regional languages and laws is prevalent. Also, the commercial litigation teams in commercial law firms that have started to set up their offices in different regions of this country are looking for lawyers with knowledge of the required regional language and laws.