K. Govindarajan


Prof. K. Govindarajan has dedicated his life to teaching and practising law in India. Born in 1948 in Coimbatore, he graduated from Annamalai University in 1968 and pursued further legal education at Madras Law College. Throughout his career, he worked as an advocate, handling civil litigation and shipping law cases with skill. In 1976, he transitioned to teaching law, starting as a Junior Professor and eventually becoming a respected Law Professor. He taught various subjects like contract law, corporate law, and cyber law in Government Law Colleges across Tamil Nadu. Prof. Govindarajan also served in administrative roles, including as registrar at Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law University and Principal in Government Law College, Tirunelveli. He authored books on contract law and insurance law, making legal concepts accessible to Tamil and English readers. With almost five decades of unblemished and exceptional service, his legacy in legal education and practice continues to inspire students and colleagues alike.

1. As someone who has taught law for nearly five decades, what keeps you passionate and engaged in the field? Have there been moments where your passion for teaching and law has been challenged, and if so, how did you overcome them?

When I entered the academic field, there were only a few holders of postgraduate degrees in law. Through self-learning during my postgraduate studies, I felt that I would excel in academia. Hence, I chose the academic field to shape the younger generation. I developed the art of teaching in such a way that every year, I made improvements. Thus, my desire for teaching turned into a passion. This passion burns within me, ensuring that teaching never suffers at any stage of my life. I wanted to engage with the younger generation pursuing a career in law.

When I began in the academic field, the methodology was solely teaching in English. One challenge I faced was transitioning from working in Government Law Colleges to teaching in the vernacular medium. I overcame this challenge by constantly learning the meanings of legal terms in the vernacular language and then conveying them to students as I would in English.

2. In your opinion, what are the key skills and qualities that distinguish exceptional legal professionals?

In my view, the distinguishing features of exceptional legal professionals are their adeptness in conceptual clarity and their prowess in presentation skills. These attributes are crucial in effectively conveying complex legal concepts and arguments. Conceptual clarity entails a deep understanding of legal principles, theories, and their applications in various contexts. Exceptional lawyers and educators possess the ability to grasp intricate legal concepts and distil them into understandable components. This clarity enables them to articulate complex ideas with precision and coherence.

Presentation skills complement conceptual clarity by facilitating the effective communication of legal knowledge. Professionals are comfortable in conveying their ideas convincingly through various mediums, such as oral presentations, written documents, and interactive discussions. They have the ability to captivate their audience, hold their attention, and convey information in a clear and engaging manner.

To cultivate these skills, one must engage in continuous learning and development. This involves immersing oneself in legal literature, exploring diverse perspectives, and critically analysing complex legal issues. By delving into a wide range of legal texts and resources, individuals can deepen their understanding of legal concepts and refine their presentation skills.

Furthermore, mastering the nuances of the English language is essential for effective communication in the legal field. One must possess strong language skills to articulate their ideas accurately and persuasively.

3. Your journey has taken you from the courtrooms to the classrooms. Can you share a memorable courtroom experience or any other experience that profoundly influenced your approach to teaching law?

There is not one memorable occasion from my courtroom experiences that profoundly influenced my teaching of law. What truly shaped my path into becoming a law teacher was an unexpected event during my time as a practising advocate in a solicitor’s firm. At that time, as a postgraduate student, one of my seniors spontaneously took me to a place without providing any prior information. It was only upon arriving at our destination that I realised we were at the Institute of Cost Accountants of India. As we entered the institute, one senior remarked that I would begin my journey as a teacher from that moment onward, despite still being a student at the postgraduate level. This sudden exposure to the student community sparked a decision within me to pursue teaching law.

The experience at the Institute of Cost Accountants of India was transformative, leading me to recognise my calling in academia. Despite my initial focus on practising law within a solicitor’s firm, the encounter with the student community ignited a newfound passion for teaching. This unexpected turn of events opened my eyes to the potential impact I could have as an educator, guiding and shaping the next generation of legal minds. From that moment onward, I was inspired to channel my knowledge and expertise into teaching law, driven by the desire to empower and educate aspiring lawyers.

4. The legal profession is often criticised for its lack of diversity and inclusivity. How do you believe legal education institutions can play a role in promoting diversity and ensuring equal access to justice for all members of society?

Whatever the level of criticism against the legal profession, particularly regarding its lack of diversity and inclusivity, legal education institutes undeniably possess the potential to promote diversity and ensure equal access to justice for all members of society. These institutions have the capacity to comprehend the psychological backgrounds of their students and unite them under a common banner, thereby accommodating diversity in a particular manner. By doing so, legal education can foster inclusivity among those who fall within diverse groups. This endeavour requires academic law teachers to understand the psychological aspects involved and to make students feel supported and valued, thus enabling them to fully integrate into the academic community.

Creating an inclusive environment within legal education institutions not only benefits individuals from diverse backgrounds but also enriches the overall learning experience for everyone involved. By embracing diversity and promoting inclusivity, these institutions can cultivate a culture of mutual respect, understanding, and collaboration. Academic law teachers play a pivotal role in this process by not only acknowledging the diverse perspectives and experiences of their students but also actively working to create an environment where all individuals feel welcomed and empowered to succeed. Through such efforts, legal education institutes can contribute significantly to the advancement of a more inclusive and equitable legal profession and society as a whole.

5. How do you advise young lawyers on the importance of making a decision between litigation paths early in their careers, and what considerations do you highlight for them to align their choices with their values and aspirations?

Based on the experiences and intricacies I encountered when I began my career, I advise the younger generation to make a decision early on whether they are inclined towards litigation or wish to diversify their career path in any manner. It is crucial that they make this decision at the earliest possible stage, as it will enable them to expand and remain steadfast in their chosen path as time progresses. Often, students who opt for litigation seek my guidance on whether to specialise in criminal law or civil law.

In response, I draw a simple analogy: I ask them whether they prefer sugar or sugarcane. If they express a desire for immediate gratification, akin to sugar, I advise them to pursue criminal law practice. Conversely, if they are willing to exercise patience and aspire to become seasoned professionals, I recommend they opt for sugarcane and delve into civil law practice. This analogy underscores the notion that while sugar provides instant satisfaction, sugarcane requires diligent effort, perseverance, and the willingness to savour its sweetness through hard work.

Making a choice between criminal and civil law practice entails recognising one’s priorities and inclinations. Each path offers its own set of challenges and rewards, I aim to guide aspiring lawyers in understanding the nature of their chosen field and the commitment required to excel within it. Ultimately, whether they opt for the immediate gratification of criminal law or the enduring rewards of civil law, it is essential that they make a decision aligned with their aspirations and values early on, setting a solid foundation for their future endeavours in the legal profession.

6. You have authored books on contract law in Tamil and insurance law in English. What motivated you to venture into writing books, and how did you find the experience of authoring them?

I have authored two books, one in vernacular and the other in English. It was an opportunity that presented itself rather unexpectedly, prompting me to delve into the realm of writing. While I thoroughly enjoyed the process and found it fulfilling, circumstances arose that prevented me from pursuing further literary endeavours. Despite my genuine interest in exploring various subjects and penning more books, I made the conscious decision not to venture deeper into this area due to the constraints imposed by these circumstances.

7. Throughout your career, you have witnessed significant developments. How do you believe these external factors have influenced the way law is taught and practised today?

In fact, compared to when I started practising, I have witnessed significant societal changes, technological advancements, and shifts in the legal arena. These external factors have led me to approach the study of law in a different manner. During my student days, we received lectures solely from advocates practising in the Madras High Court. However, now fully qualified professionals with postgraduate degrees play a significant role in legal education. Witnessing this change has also brought about considerable changes in the way law is taught. Gone are the days of mere extemporaneous lectures; students are now exposed to various educational mediums, including technical concepts like zooming in on the screen. Ultimately, students are encouraged to develop their understanding of the law according to their requirements and preferences.

This evolution in legal education has allowed for greater flexibility and innovation in teaching methods. By embracing technological advancements and accommodating to the changing needs of students, legal educators can provide a more dynamic and interactive learning experience. Encouraging students to actively engage with the material and develop their own perspectives fosters critical thinking and a deeper understanding of the law.

Moreover, these developments reflect a broader shift towards a more student-centered approach to legal education, where the focus is not only on imparting knowledge but also on empowering students to become active participants in their own learning journey.

8. If you were to design a course on a legal area that is not explored properly, what would it be and why?

I would like to suggest focusing on an area of law that deserves attention: Marine Law. This field has not been thoroughly explored or studied in depth. While there is now one university in India offering a postgraduate degree in maritime law, solely completing an academic cycle may not suffice to become properly specialised in this field. Therefore, I recommend designing a course that incorporates the practical aspects of marine law. By doing so, students will be better equipped to deal with the complexities of this legal domain and excel in their future endeavours.

By integrating theoretical knowledge with practical application, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of marine law and be prepared to address challenges they may encounter in their professional careers. Ultimately, this will enrich the legal field and deal with the evolving needs of the maritime industry.

9. In addition to your expertise in law, you have also pursued interests in areas such as personnel management and industrial relations. How do you believe interdisciplinary knowledge contributes to a well-rounded legal education and professional practice?

When I was engaged in teaching law, I had opportunities to undertake courses like personnel management and industrial relations. This helped me gain interdisciplinary knowledge, which has significantly contributed to my legal education. Now, when I deliver lectures, I can draw analogies from those interdisciplinary subjects and present them to students, which they also appreciate the most.

This interdisciplinary approach enhances the quality of legal education by providing students with a broader perspective and allowing them to see the interconnectedness of various disciplines. By incorporating insights from fields such as personnel management and industrial relations, I am able to enrich my lectures and make them more engaging and relevant to students’ experiences and interests. This not only enhances their understanding of legal concepts but also fosters critical thinking and interdisciplinary thinking skills, which are essential for success in the legal profession.

10. As someone who has served in various administrative roles within legal education institutions, what do you see as the most pressing challenges facing these institutions today?

One pressing challenge that institutions face today is effectively managing the diverse needs of students. It is not just a matter of overseeing students but addressing their specific requirements. Institutions can accommodate these needs if students communicate them accordingly. From the institution’s perspective, there is a need to make various arrangements to provide students with practical exposure, such as organising visits to courts of law or legal aid clinics.

However, a significant challenge lies in fostering a uniform mindset among all students so that their experiences and opportunities contribute positively to society as a whole. This necessitates creating a sense of shared purpose and responsibility among students, ensuring that their educational journey aligns with broader societal goals and values.

11. Looking ahead to the future, what legacy do you hope to leave behind in the field of legal education?

The only legacy I would leave behind in the field of legal education is to create an endowment that serves as a motivating factor for students to excel and achieve success. I believe that providing scholarships in this manner makes students feel valued and honoured for their skills by the institutions offering the scholarships. It serves as an encouragement for them to strive for excellence and pursue their academic goals with determination.

Furthermore, I urge my colleagues to consider their own legacies and the lasting impact they can make in their institutions. By creating enduring memories through initiatives such as establishing endowments with their names, they can ensure their contributions to the field are remembered and perpetuated for generations to come. These endowments not only benefit current students but also support future generations of aspiring legal professionals, leaving a lasting legacy of support and encouragement in the field of legal education.

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.