Shailesh Kumar, alumnus CNLU on teaching Constitutional Law at Birkbeck University of London

Shailesh Kumar is a graduate from Chanakya National Law University, Patna. He currently works at the School of Law, Birkbeck, the University of London as a DPhil candidate. He teaches Constitutional & Administrative Law to the LLB and LLM students at Birkbeck as an Associate Tutor and is also a Senior Editor of the Birkbeck Law Review. Currently, he is working on a project on reform initiatives in the Indian criminal courts from an access to justice perspective. He was awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship (by the UK government) and Prof. Ronnie Warrington Graduate Teaching Assistantship (by the Birkbeck Law School). He also got the Junior Research Fellowship (by the UGC, MHRD, Govt. of India) to pursue M.Phil. He has the experience of teaching at the Delhi University (as a guest faculty member) and NALSAR University of law (as a teaching assistant). He has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Jyotshna Yashaswi. 

1. Please introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Shailesh Kumar. Presently I’m a D.Phil. candidate and a Commonwealth Scholar at School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, UK.

2. Tell us a little more about your professional experiences?

So, my first brief stint as a teacher was at NALSAR in the capacity of Teaching Assistant for the paper of Constitutional Law, where I taught third-year students while myself doing an LL.M. Thereafter, I taught at the Law Faculty, University of Delhi for a semester as a guest faculty member. Recently, i.e. last year, I was an Associate Tutor at Birkbeck School of Law, where I got an opportunity to teach both undergraduate and post-graduate law students. Most of them were working students, and thus I cherished teaching them the most. I taught them Constitutional and Administrative Law module. Actually my experiences of teaching at law faculty, Delhi University helped me at Birkbeck, as I had students from all age groups at Delhi University as well.

3. Could you share some memories of your college days with us?

I got the degree of B.A. LL.B. (hons.) from CNLU, Patna. And mine was just the third batch there, so quite enthusiastic I was. I had the chance to spend my law school student life both in temporary and permanent campuses, both with their own merits and demerits. But it was lovely overall. Where in the old campus, it was like a traditional Indian joint family system, in the new campus, I could feel the transition to a nuclear one more like the Indian society itself. From going for early morning chai, to watching cricket matches together in the Mess hall, to the green campuses, and amazing bunch of peers, seniors, and juniors, I have collected memories that will be there for lifetime. Also, apart from the formal classroom teaching, I would not like to miss mentioning the peer-group teachings I was part of. I think that’s a lovely trend where students teach students, especially during exam times adopting a crash course method. Also, participating in various moot Court competitions, sports fests, and cultural events helped me a lot in boosting my confidence as well as improving my English oratory skills.

4. Was doing law or being in the teaching profession an accidental decision?

I would say both were accidental, but doing law was more accidental than being in the teaching profession.

5. Do let us know how one should shape up his profile during law school for higher studies from some world’s top universities?

You’re welcome. Higher studies for me is about one’s interest in either specialising in some area of law, or/and about entering into research and academia. Both need sheer interest in one or more areas of law, alongside rational thinking and the passion to read. Indulging in open discussions and civilised debates are without a doubt essential. I would also add that the role of a university is lesser than the individual herself/himself.

6. Also tell us about the role of mooting and other co-curricular activities in college?

They are important, particularly if you were not privileged enough to have your schooling from an English medium school, as I faced this problem a lot in my initial years. The first half of my schooling was from a Hindi medium school, so I have faced the difficulties. Participation in such activities help you improve your confidence level in public speaking, you get to know how to accept successes and failures alike, and you get the opportunity to travel as well by which you learn about different cultures and places. Mooting is important if you’re thinking of practicing law, as you learn the skills of research at an early age, and presenting your arguments in a coherent and effective way. Cultural events are important too. For the reasons I have mentioned above.

7. Kindly throw some light on how one should enhance their researching skill as you have been an avid Research scholar?

I think the critical bent of mind is important. You can’t research if you cannot question and then look for the solution. And as I said, investing time in reading is a must. Raising questions is important as it gives you an opportunity to not believe things as they are, and make you understand what could be the possible questions in a set of facts. Moreover, I would also suggest wider readings, by which I mean not restricting oneself to reading judgments and statutory provisions. Read history, everyday socio-political issues etc. For critical bent of mind, I would like to add the role of one of my alma maters JNU for sure.

8. Apart from this any other experiences or suggestions you would like to share?

Most important thing is, I would say, to decide as soon as possible what you really want to do professionally and what you love doing, and how do you reconcile the two. It’s easier said than done but still. Keep your smile intact both in your good and so-called bad times. Nothing is impossible, and life is making me learn this every day.

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