In Conversation with Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Director-Symbiosis Law School, Pune

Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Director-Symbiosis Law School, Pune

Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Director Symbiosis Law School, Pune and Dean, Faculty of Law, Symbiosis International University. She is Member of Board of Management, Symbiosis International University. Dr. Gurpur, a recipient of Fulbright-Nehru International Education scholarship – 2011, is a distinguished academician who has been the recipient of the National and South Asian Legal Education Innovation Award 2011 conferred by SILF and MILAT. She has also been the member of the 19th Law Commission of India and also the member of the Bar Council of India. Her vast experience in the education sector in India and abroad has brought in many new ideas and vision for the institution. She is a member of the International Advisory Board of Irish Journal – Irish Review of CED Law & Policy, Northside Community Law Centre, Dublin, Ireland (2011) & IALS, International Legal Education, USA.  She has been a resource person at the Judicial Academy and also a resource person at several other distinguished forums. Apart from that she is advisory board member of Legal Desire.

Dr. Shashikala is interviewed by Anuj Kumar, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Legal Desire. We are thankful to her for giving us her valuable time out of her busy schedule.

Anuj: Briefly describe about Symbiosis International University and the main features which adds to the repute of the university? 

Dr. Shashikala: The University was established under Section 3 of UGC Act, 1956, in the year 2002, with the basic principle:

  • To provide facilities for education and research of University standard
  • The encouragement of the dissemination, advancement, development and application of knowledge.
  • The provision of courses of study or instruction across a range of fields, and the carrying out of research, to meet the needs of the community.
  • The provision of teaching and learning that engage with advanced knowledge.
  • These campuses epitomize the Symbiosis motto, ‘Promoting International Understanding through Quality Education’ and are a beehive of international students from all across the globe, being privy to Indian culture and hospitality.

Padma Bhushan Dr. S.B. Mujumdar established Symbiosis on the principles of Vedic thought of “World as One Family” and is resplendent of the activities and students of several countries. The University also has MOU’s of collaboration with several renowned universities of the world and encourages students & faculty to participate in its programmes. Symbiosis International University was given “Deemed to be University” status by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2002. The University is re-accredited by NAAC with Grade ‘A’ and CGPA of 3.58 on a four point scale.

Symbiosis International University is nestled on a beautiful 300 acre campus, the Symbiosis Knowledge Village, on the outskirts of the city of Pune in Maharashtra, India. The University’s name fittingly captures the quintessence of the relationship with International students; a mutually beneficial bond between India and the International student community.

The genesis of the University stems from the Symbiosis Society, a ‘Not for Profit’ organisation. Its growth reflects the dynamic changes in Indian society. It would not be far-fetched to claim that the history of the University is intertwined with the history of Management education in India. Today, SIU is a clear leader in management education with several of its management institutes ranked amongst the best in the country and its alumni occupying leadership positions across the world.

With changes sweeping across India’s higher education environment, SIU has established need based institutes across the 7 faculties of Law, Management, Computer Studies, Health & Bio-medical Sciences, Media, Communication & Design, Humanities & Social Sciences and Engineering. Symbiosis International University continues to grow…. Evolving by benchmarking itself against the best in the world. A student centric philosophy leads to innovatives in teaching and learning, student affairs, academic programs and health care.

Cutting edge technologies, smart classrooms and modern infrastructure positively impact the delivery of world class education. Diversity in the classroom and faculty rooms, service learning projects, internships and value added activities lead to a more holistic development of students.

The University bears in mind its objective that its ultimate aim is to participate in the task of inculcating knowledge and hone skills which are vital to the young graduates and post graduates who passes out from the University.

Anuj: What was the main aim behind establishing School of Law and how is it different from other law schools?

Dr. Shashikala: The aim was to address the unmet legal education needs of a large workforce of Pune in 1977 with only one other Law School being there. Later it adopted quality legal education mission. As a topmost private law school, standing 5th among 1000 and odd law schools in India, Symbiosis Law School, Pune has a classic excellence and rich heritage spanning 37 years. It was among the first few to introduce the professional, interdisciplinary, full-time 5 year programme including the unique BBA LLB (Hon.), 1 year LL. M programme (with seven Specializations) and a structured Ph.D course work. SCALSAR, the research and excellence wing of the Law School consolidates knowledge creation and innovation in all areas of operation including the IP Cell of the University. SLS, Pune is a pioneer in introducing innovation in dispensing legal education in the country and impacted others through its best-practices with profound curriculum, teaching- learning, community legal service, floating credits, internationalization, research, comprehensive student care and development.

The leadership team has contributed to the legal fraternity in India and abroad; through involvement as Resource Persons training lawyers, law teachers in Academic Staff Training colleges, training law enforcement officers, in law-making and legal systems through the Law Commission of India, being part of Curriculum Development Committee (CDC) in our national regulatory body (BCI), contributing to curriculum building in leading national law schools,  contributing to  International conferences of international law networks  such as IALS, ASLI and various regional delegations and, contributing to research agenda at NALSAR.

Its impact can be evidenced by the galloping increase in admission since 2007, prominent stakeholder collaborations and visibility in national and international media.

Anuj: How is your University imparting practical skills to students apart from academic knowledge?

Dr. Shashikala: SLS, Pune orients its students practically through the following activities.

  • Field visits are conducted as part of curriculum and also assessed as internal component.
  • Compulsory Moot Court in the life cycle of a student. Avialibility of Moot court Hall to train the students. Een those who partice in International Moot court competitions at the time of their term exams are not treated as backlogs and given an apporutunity to appear for the fresh term
  • Drafting and pleading is subject taught to 5th year students, where students are trained by practicing advocates of Maharashtra Bar.
  • The colleges encourage at least 3 internships, client counseling in the life cycle of a student.
  • Legal aid clinic is a most vibrant and most active part of both faculty and student activity.
  • Various Capsule courses are organized on contemporary subjects of law and recourse persons include both national and international as well.
  • Exclusive paper for practical learning in 5th yr
  • Seminar ,conferences ,workshop are organized on weekly basis.
  • Guest lectures from judges and renowned people

Anuj: Kindly let us know whether there is any provision for scholarship for your programmes and if yes how to apply for it?

Dr. Shashikala: SLS, Pune provides various scholarships in order to encourage the merit.

  1. Financial Assistance for Special cases: Kashmir Flood victim: 1 student was given fee waiver during 2014-15
  2. Govt of India SC/ST Top class scholarship: 129 students amounting to Rs.1.43 Crores since 2007.
  3. Other SLS Pune special scholarships such as Symbiosis Foundation Scholarship, Ram Jethmalani Award, Nani Palkhiwala Award, Government of Meghalaya Scholarship, Government of Jammu and Kashmir Scholarship awarded to 43 students amount to Rs.35.24 Lakhs

Anuj: Describe about future career prospective, tie-ups and placements?  

Dr. Shashikala: Placement is an ongoing phenomenon in any good professional college, all the more in our college, SLS, Pune being a premier law college of the country.

Not all students opt for placements through college as many study further or litigate, go abroad or join family legal practice. Usually, 60% students in UG (BALLB/BBALLB) and around 55.% students in PG (LLM) opt for official placement assistance from us.

And those who opt for it are usually all placed either in law firms, or in corporate houses or in NGOs/ voluntary sector organizations.

We are currently having a data-base of more than 100 law firms, NGOs/INGOs, and corporate houses with whom we are well introduced and who keep coming to campus or inviting our students for internships and placements interviews. Average pay of Rs. 6 lakhs per annum and highest about 18 lakhs per annum.

In near future, these numbers will be increased through pro-active interaction with the industry and legal firms furthermore.

We can explore written understanding with some of these organizations for first visit to SLS, Pune for recruitment. Even otherwise many here usually come first to SLS, Pune for recruitment.

We are exploring tie-ups for internships or projects or skills enhancement training for placements with these organizations today:

AZB & Partners, Khaitan and Co., Nishith Desai Associates, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Luthra and Luthra, Majumdar and Partners, J. Sagar Associates, Economic Laws Practice, Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan, Kochhar & Co., Desai and Diwanji, Gagrats & Co., Legasis, Pune, Indus Law, JSW Steel, Justice and Care International NGO, Central Information Commission, Supreme Court of India Clerkship, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, HCL, Bharti Airtel, PwC.

Prospects exist for civil services, judiciary, in-house legal team, managerial and administrative profile, leadership careers and academia.

Anuj: Your Message to our readers and wanna be lawyers who will take admission this session? 

Dr. Shashikala: Make the right choice, play all your strengths, invest with prior information. Your interest, ability, engagement will bring great opportunities. If you want to excel, this is the place withpassionate, compassionate learning culture and to a warm academic community.

Student seeking admissions at Symbiosis Law School, Pune can visit:

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