Gujarat National Law University: Situated In A Place That Has Entrepreneurship In Its Soil

Anuroop Omkar, Honorary Director, Bridge Policy Think Tank looks back fondly on his journey at GNLU and shares how the college sparked the entrepreneur in him leading him to his law firm and a policy think tank.

How has been your personal experience at the college? When did you graduate and what are the few remarkable moments etched in your memories about your college?

I graduated exactly a decade back. The experience has been a mixed one. By the time I passed out, we had the new campus (existing campus). I still love seeing photos of the campus on social media by the photography club at GNLU.

Our present campus is in the ‘Knowledge Corridor’ envisioned by Shri Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. It was a project close to his heart and he often came to the campus for state functions. People would go to the function just to hear him speak. One of the remarkable moments was when for our convocation we witnessed the presence of the then Chief Minister and present Prime Minister alongside the then Chief Justice of India Hon’ble Justice Mr K. G. Balakrishnan. 

Subjects and professors you like the most. 

My favourites were (in no particular order):

  1. Dr. Ravindra Kumar Singh for Contracts I, II and the seminar paper;

  2. Dr. Girish R. for Administrative Law;

  3. Dr. Debashri Sarkar for Family Law;

  4. Dr. Fakkiresh S. Sakkarnaikar for Interpretation of Statutes; and

  5. Dr. William Nunes for Introduction to Political Science. 

What would you say is the USP of the college? 

The USP of GNLU is that it is situated in the state of Gujarat. Entrepreneurship is in the soil. Civil servants are extremely streamlined and hardworking. Every local person you talk to generally has a side hustle. They are all cool about the hard work it requires to have more than one job or to be an entrepreneur. I particularly remember this juice seller who came up with easy tools to de-husk a boiled corn cob and make a milkshake without electricity. They were innovative, open-minded and at the same time spiritually tuned. Spending my formative five years in Gujarat changed my entire perspective on life and the legal profession. I draw a lot from my lessons and experience there while now running my law firm and policy think tank.

Hostel facilities and food were good. Sports were highly encouraged. I still miss the GNLU cultural fest Pentagram.

Having spent some good years in the profession, what according to you are areas our colleges must focus on to cultivate the legal minds that the country needs? 

We are looking at a generation of professionals who try to compare the legal profession with other employments. There is a difference. This is a profession and it becomes a way of life. It is not an employment. It is rewarding but there is no instant gratification. I don’t know how a college can inculcate these qualities and set the expectations of a new entrant but that is what is extremely essential so that law students are not disillusioned when they start practising. 

Additionally, colleges should work towards creating a triple helix method of education. There is a need for greater collaboration between academia, industry and government to churn out lawyers and legal policy professionals who have adequate work exposure as they study to improve the quality of legal services in India. Adding extra credit courses and summer schools to its repertoire shall also be a worthy addition for a 360-degree focus and outreach.

While hard work may be the key to everything, sometimes education from a premium institute remains a distant dream for many reasons. What then can students do to ensure their future is not marred by a lack of resources? 

The students should learn to appreciate that the legal profession is a 24x7 job on the desk and in mind. You can be a successful lawyer if you love what you do even if you don’t come from a premier institute or a second-generation/third-generation legal family. The students should focus more on creating hope for themselves and not giving up rather than being bogged down with the thoughts of premier and non-premier institutes. 

Can one make a good career in law with knowledge of regional language and laws? 

Presently making a good career in law based on regional laws may not be possible because different states in India have not evolved equally in terms of their existence. Trial practice should not be allowed to become a dying art. For that to happen we need intelligent minds to focus on trial practice which requires strong skills in regional languages.

However, looking at law from different lenses and not just as a profession, there is room for practice not just at the topmost courts but also at the smallest taluka in a state. We need policy professionals who can work at the grassroots level to protect the rights of the unprotected. We need advocacy professionals to spread awareness of legal rights among the common man.

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