We recently got a chance to interview Prof.(Dr.) Santanu Mitra here’s the transcript of the Interview: (Dr.) Santanu Mitra

Prof. (Dr.) Santanu Mitra, currently the Vice-Principal of Heritage Law College, Kolkata, is a luminary in legal academia and corporate governance. His multifaceted career spans both corporate leadership and academic mentorship. Prof (Dr.) Santanu Mitra holds a PhD in Law from the prestigious University of Calcutta. His educational journey includes an M.B.A. specialising in HR from Jadavpur University, and an LL.M. from the University of Calcutta, complemented by an M. Com. in Corporate Governance from IGNOU.

With a profound commitment to legal excellence, Prof. (Dr.) Santanu Mitra is a member of the Central Bar Council of India, Bar Association of Calcutta High Court and West Bengal Bar Council. As a Fellow Member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and with a rich tapestry of experience at ITC Group of Companies and Duncans Group of Companies, Prof. (Dr.) Mitra brings a nuanced understanding of corporate dynamics to the academic landscape.

In addition to his corporate achievements, Prof. (Dr.) Mitra is deeply involved in academia, serving as a supervisor to PhD & LLM scholars and as a guest faculty at renowned law colleges in Kolkata.

He has also served as an adjunct and guest faculty at several other prestigious institutions like IISWBM, and IBS-Kolkata among others. His contributions extend beyond the classroom, with a remarkable track record of conducting workshops and seminars on corporate governance, and national and international publications and serving as a regular judge in national moot court competitions organized by ICSI.

Interview: Prof. (Dr.) Mr.Santanu Mitra | Vice-Principal, Heritage Law College, Kolkata

We recently got a chance to interview Prof.(Dr.) Santanu Mitra. Here’s the transcript of the Interview: (Dr.) Santanu Mitra

Legal Bites: What inspired you to seek a career in legal academia, and how has this experience influenced your approach to teaching and research at our college?

Dr. Santanu Mitra: Seeking a career in legal academia was driven by a combination of my passion for the law, a commitment to social justice, and a deep-seated belief in the power of education to effect change.

Early in my career, I was inspired by mentors who demonstrated the profound impact that legal scholars can have, both in the classroom and through their research. These experiences showed me how legal academia provides a unique platform to influence future lawyers and contribute to the development of legal thought.

My journey into legal academia has profoundly influenced my approach to teaching and research at our college in several ways:

  • Interdisciplinary Approach: I have learned the importance of integrating perspectives from various disciplines into legal education. This approach not only enriches the students' understanding of the law but also prepares them to address complex, real-world issues with a more holistic perspective.
  • Student-Centered Teaching: My teaching philosophy centres around the idea that students learn best when they are actively engaged. I strive to create an inclusive and interactive classroom environment.
  • Focus on Practical Skills: Recognizing the need for students to be well-prepared for the practical aspects of their future careers, I incorporate experiential learning opportunities such as moot courts, simulations, and clinics into my curriculum.
  • Commitment to Social Justice: I aim to highlight issues of equity, fairness, and justice in my courses and encourage students to consider the broader societal impacts of legal decisions.
  • Research with Real-World Impact: My academic research is driven by a desire to address pressing legal and societal issues. I strive to produce scholarship that not only advances legal theory but also has practical implications and can inform policy-making.

By bringing these principles into my work at our college, I hope to inspire students to pursue their passions within the field of law and to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to make meaningful contributions to society.

Legal Bites: What essential abilities or traits should students develop, in your opinion, to thrive in both their legal education and future careers?

Dr. Santanu Mitra: To thrive in both their legal education and future careers, students should develop a range of essential abilities and traits that will not only help them excel academically but also prepare them for the diverse and dynamic demands of the legal profession. These include:

  • Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills
  • Strong Research Skills
  • Effective Communication
  • Attention to Detail whether drafting documents, reviewing case files, or conducting research.
  • Time Management and Organizational Skills
  • Ethical Judgment and Professionalism
  • Interpersonal Skills and Empathy
  • Adaptability and Resilience
  • Technological Proficiency
  • Lifelong Learning and Curiosity

By developing these abilities and traits, students will be well-equipped to excel in their legal education and navigate the complexities of their future careers with confidence and competence.

Legal Bites: What role do you think opportunities, such as internships, play in a student's legal education?

Dr. Santanu Mitra: Internships play a crucial role in a student's legal education, offering numerous benefits that complement academic learning and significantly enhance professional development. Internships provide hands-on experience that allows students to apply theoretical knowledge from their coursework to real-world legal issues. This practical exposure helps bridge the gap between academic study and professional practice, giving students a clearer understanding of how the law operates in various contexts.

Through internships, students develop essential legal skills such as legal research, writing, client interviewing, negotiation, and advocacy. These skills are honed in a practical setting, making students more proficient and confident in their abilities.

Internships offer valuable networking opportunities. Students interact with attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals, building relationships that can be instrumental in their future careers. These connections can lead to mentorship, job recommendations, and insight into different legal career paths.

Internships expose students to the culture and dynamics of legal workplaces. They learn about professional expectations, workplace etiquette, and the importance of teamwork and collaboration. This understanding helps students transition more smoothly into their future roles as legal professionals.

Internships allow students to explore different areas of law and types of legal practice, helping them identify their interests and career goals. Whether in a law firm, government agency, non-profit organization, or corporate legal department, internships provide insight into various legal specialties and settings.

Legal Bites: Having successfully navigated both law practice and academics, what guidance would you provide to students considering other career paths within the legal profession?

Dr. Santanu Mitra: Navigating both law practice and academia has provided me with a broad perspective on the diverse career paths available within the legal profession.

The legal field offers a wide range of specialities, from corporate law to human rights, and intellectual property to environmental law. Take the time to explore different areas through coursework, internships, and informational interviews to find what truly interests you.

Practical experiences are invaluable in helping you understand different legal roles and environments. Pursue internships and externships in various settings such as law firms, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate legal departments to gain hands-on experience and insight into different career paths.

Building a professional network is crucial. Attend industry events, join legal associations, and connect with alumni and professionals in your areas of interest. Networking can provide mentorship opportunities, job leads, and a better understanding of different legal careers.

Many skills developed in law school and through practice are transferable across different legal careers. Focus on honing your research, writing, analytical, and communication skills, as these are valuable in any legal profession.

Depending on your career interests, additional education or certifications can be beneficial. For example, an LL.M. in a specialized field, a certification in compliance, or courses in business or technology can enhance your qualifications and open up new opportunities.

By exploring various options, gaining diverse experiences, and building a strong professional network, you can find a fulfilling and successful career path within the legal profession that aligns with your interests and goals.

Legal Bites: What do you find most rewarding about being a vice principal at a law college?

Dr. Santanu Mitra: Being a vice principal at a law college is a multifaceted role that comes with numerous rewards. Providing mentorship to students and seeing them grow academically, professionally, and personally is incredibly fulfilling.

Tackling challenges and finding effective solutions is fulfilling. Whether it's addressing student concerns, resolving conflicts, or improving administrative processes, the ability to make a positive difference is rewarding.

In summary, the most rewarding aspects of being a vice principal at a law college encompass the profound impact on student development, the ability to foster academic excellence, the opportunity to build a strong community, the challenges and achievements in leadership, promoting inclusivity, continuous personal and professional growth, and contributing to the broader field of legal education. These rewards make the role both meaningful and fulfilling.

Legal Bites: What shortcomings do you observe in modern legal education, and what strategies would you suggest to address them effectively?

Dr. Santanu Mitra: Modern legal education, while robust and comprehensive in many respects, has several shortcomings that need addressing to better prepare students for the complexities of legal practice.

The legal profession is increasingly reliant on technology, yet many law schools do not adequately prepare students to use legal technology tools. Introduce mandatory courses on legal technology, covering tools for research, case management, e-discovery, and more. Use technology-enhanced learning methods, such as online simulations and virtual lawyering environments.

Legal issues often intersect with other fields, yet law schools may not provide enough interdisciplinary learning opportunities. Offer courses that combine law with other disciplines such as business, healthcare, environmental science, and technology. Promote joint degree programs (e.g., JD/MBA, JD/MPH) that allow students to gain expertise in multiple fields. Encourage collaborative projects and research with students and faculty from other departments.

The pressures of legal practice require a strong grounding in ethics and professionalism, which may not be sufficiently emphasized. Integrate discussions of ethics and professional responsibility throughout all courses, not just in dedicated ethics classes. Provide workshops and seminars focused on professional conduct, client relations, and mental health.

Ensure that the curriculum includes diverse perspectives and covers issues related to race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic status. Offer training and programs that promote cultural competence and awareness of implicit biases.

Leverage alumni networks to provide insights and opportunities in various legal fields.

By addressing these shortcomings with targeted strategies, legal education can better equip students with the skills, knowledge, and ethical grounding necessary to succeed in a rapidly evolving legal landscape

Legal Bites: Do you think platforms like Legal Bites not only aid students with their law school tasks but also sufficiently equip those aiming to pursue the judiciary exam after graduating from law school?

Dr. Santanu Mitra: Platforms like Legal Bites can be incredibly valuable resources for law students, offering a range of materials that aid with both law school tasks and exam preparation.

These platforms often provide summaries, notes, case briefs, and articles that can help students grasp complex legal concepts and stay updated with recent developments. Articles and commentaries from legal experts can offer deeper insights into important topics and help students develop critical thinking skills. Staying updated with current affairs and recent legal developments is crucial for both law school and judiciary exams, and these platforms often provide timely updates.

Features like forums, Q&A sessions, and webinars allow students to interact with peers and experts, facilitating a more engaging and interactive learning experience.

While platforms like Legal Bites provide significant support, there are additional factors to consider when evaluating their sufficiency for judiciary exam preparation like Depth and Breadth of Content and Structured Preparation: Mock tests and practice questions on these platforms can help in practising the application of legal principles.

Judiciary exams are state-specific, and knowledge of local laws and languages is essential. Supplementing with local law materials and state-specific coaching might be necessary.

Platforms like Legal Bites are excellent resources that significantly aid law students in both their academic and judiciary exam preparations. They provide valuable study materials, practice questions, and interactive learning opportunities that form a solid foundation for judiciary exams.

Legal Bites: What advice would you give to students and professionals on effectively utilizing legal websites like Legal Bites as a learning and research tool?

Dr. Santanu Mitra: Effectively utilizing legal websites like Legal Bites as a learning and research tool can significantly enhance your legal education and professional development.

For Students

Use the platform to find resources that directly complement your course syllabus. This will help reinforce your classroom learning. Utilize articles, case briefs, and notes to supplement and clarify complex topics covered in textbooks.

Make a habit of regularly reviewing summaries and case briefs to keep important concepts fresh in your mind. Regularly attempt practice questions and mock tests to gauge your understanding and readiness for exams.

Join discussions and forums to clarify doubts, share knowledge, and gain different perspectives on various legal topics. Attend webinars and online workshops to stay updated with the latest legal trends and gain insights from experts.

Utilize specific sections dedicated to the judiciary and other competitive exams. Follow the study plans, attempt past papers, and take mock tests. Create a study schedule incorporating resources from the platform, ensuring you cover all essential topics systematically. Use the platform to access quality articles and research papers which can aid in writing assignments and developing your research skills. Ensure you understand how to properly cite and reference materials used from these platforms in your academic work.

For Professionals

Use the platform to stay updated with recent legal developments, landmark judgments, and amendments in the law.

Focus on content relevant to your practice area to enhance your expertise and keep your knowledge current. Utilize the database of case briefs, articles, and legal updates for efficient and comprehensive legal research. Use multiple sources on the platform to cross-reference information, ensuring accuracy and depth in your research.

Consider contributing articles or case studies to the platform, which can help build your professional reputation and share your expertise. Always verify the credibility of the sources and information provided on these platforms. Cross-check with primary sources or other authoritative legal databases

Bookmark important articles, take notes and keep a list of key resources for quick reference. Engage with the platform's feedback mechanisms if available. Suggest improvements or request content on specific topics that could benefit you and others.

By strategically using legal websites like Legal Bites, both students and professionals can enhance their legal knowledge, stay current with developments, and improve their overall competency in the legal field.

Legal Bites: How do you prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively as a Vice Principal of our college?

Dr. Santanu Mitra: As a vice principal, effective time management and task prioritization are crucial to ensure smooth operations and achieve strategic goals. Here are some strategies, I use to prioritize tasks and manage my time effectively:

  • Focus on tasks that align with the college’s long-term goals and objectives. Address tasks that require immediate attention and allocate time for important tasks that contribute to strategic goals
  • Delegate tasks to capable team members, ensuring that responsibilities are distributed according to expertise and workload. Utilize tools like Trello, Asana, or Microsoft Planner to organize tasks, set priorities, and track progress.
  • Use digital calendars to schedule meetings, deadlines, and important events. Identify key tasks that must be completed. Allocate specific time blocks for different types of work, such as administrative tasks, meetings, and focused project work.
  • Avoid unnecessary meetings and use email or other communication tools for brief updates and information sharing. Check and respond to emails at designated times during the day rather than constantly.
  • Focus on one task at a time to increase efficiency and reduce errors.

Regularly review progress on long-term projects to ensure they stay on track and adjust plans as needed. Seek feedback from colleagues, staff, and students to identify areas for improvement in processes and personal time management.

Be willing to adapt and implement new strategies that can enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Set clear boundaries between work and personal time to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

By implementing these strategies, I aim to manage my responsibilities effectively, contribute to the college's success, and maintain a balanced and fulfilling professional and personal life.

Legal Bites: Thank You so much!!

Important Links

Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary, and Entrance Exams

Law Aspirants: Ultimate Test Prep Destination

Avishikta Biswas

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