Taniya Malik graduated in law from CLC, DU in 2009. She is an avid researcher and academician in the field of law. She graduated from Lady Shree Ram College before she decided to join CLC, DU to pursue law.
After her graduation she worked at Lall Lahiri and Salhotra (“LLS”), one of the most prominent IP firms in India for an year. Thereafter she decided to pursue Masters and therefore joined DU again. With Masters, she managed to clear UGC-NET examination. She also had the opportunity to work as an Assistant Professor at ITM Law School before she joined DU where she is currently pursuing Ph.D. in Water Security in India.
In this interview she talks about:
- Law school experience at DU
- Work experience at LLS and ITM Law School
- Clearing UGC-NET
- Pursuing Ph.D. in Water Security in India
Given that most of our readers are law students and young lawyers, how will you introduce yourself to them?
I am an avid researcher and academician in the field of law. Currently I am pursuing Ph.D. on Water Security in India from Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. Besides this I have taught law subjects at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi and ITM University, Gurgaon.
How did you gravitate towards Law? Tell us about your college life at CLC, DU. What all activities did you partake in?
Honestly, Law was a backup option. In fact after I finished with my graduation at LSR, DU, I was still quite confused as to my future plans. I had zeroed on Law but I was still figuring out things and buying more time to make up final plans. But initial few classes at CLC made me realize that somehow through all this confusion, I had found my true calling. Since those days, I have never had a second thought about my profession.
Studying at CLC in itself was an eye opening experience. I had just graduated from LSR, a girls’ college and till then I had been accustomed to a much protected environment. CLC changed all that and made me see some hard realities face to face. I got a chance to interact with people from very diverse backgrounds but most importantly I think it was the study of law that brought about a lot of change in my personality. I started becoming more upfront and confident. As far as activities at law school were concerned, I used to participate in various subject specific discussion committees. I also regularly used to attend talks and seminars held at CLC and was an active member of the Placement Committee. I was also got opportunities to work as research associate under few of my professors at CLC.
Soon after graduation, you started working at Lall, Lahiri and Salhotra as an Associate. How did your appointment take place? What kind of responsibilities you were entrusted with?
Immediately after completion of my LL.B., I got an excellent opportunity to work as Legal Associate at LLS (Lall, Lahiri & Salhotra), a Gurgaon based IPR law firm. It was a regular appointment wherein I had sent across my CV and sat through few interview rounds. I worked in the Trademarks Prosecution department of LLS wherein I was involved with the filing for registering of trademarks applications and attending hearings at Trademarks Registry, New Delhi. It was definitely a good experience for a beginner in the field of IPR
After having worked at LLS for almost one year, you joined Faculty of Law, Delhi University to pursue LL.M. What made you to prefer Masters over job? Did you consider going abroad?
While spending one year at LLS, I had developed a lot of fascination for higher studies in Law as I constantly used to feel that my studies in law were still incomplete. I discussed it with my parents and they also encouraged me to pursue LL.M. Additionally I wanted to explore judicial services as a career option and for these purposes I decided to undertake full time study of Law. As far as pursuing LL.M from foreign universities is concerned, the thought didn’t inspire me much in those days and infact I didn’t try any university abroad. I was happy with pursuing my LL.M from DU.
Tell us about the course structure and specialization of Master of Laws at CLC, DU? What was your topic of dissertation for LL.M?
LL.M at DU is a full time, two year course and the subjects of specialization can be chosen by the candidate himself. My subjects of specialization centred on Constitutional Law and International Law. My LL.M dissertation topic was on the legal regulation of Money Laundering in India. The controversy respecting Black Money was current in those days and this encouraged me to take up a detailed study on this subject.
You have publications in various renowned journals. How should one go about writing papers and getting the same published?
So far as publications are concerned, I would suggest that the authors must pick up topics that are current. I think that gives a better success rate in publications. Also I would suggest that the authors must attempt empirical study on legal topics as opposed to a doctrinal one. An empirical study of legal issues is more precise and provides more credibility to the research.
How did publishing affect your legal career? Apart from academia, does it help one to secure jobs at all?
Publications are of tremendous importance so far as academics is concerned. Infact one excellent research article has the potential to shape your entire career in academics. Apart from academia, although prima facie it seems that publications are not of much importance, but in fact they do. If legal professional wants to stand out in his field, then he must write on his area of expertise. Writing in itself is a profound activity and many of your own concepts about a particular legal topic will become clear once you start writing about it.
You have also qualified UGC NET Exam. Could you please tell our reader about the exam and how did you prepare for it?
UGC NET exam is a national level eligibility test for college level teachers, which is conducted by UGC twice a year. To secure a regular appointment at University level for the role of Assistant Professor, every candidate must clear the NET exam of the concerned subject. Fortunately I did not have to prepare specifically for NET as the syllabus comprised of all the subjects of law that I had already studied in LL.B and LL.M. I basically revised all these subjects two months before the exam and by God’s grace I was successful.
You also had the opportunity to work as an Assistant Professor at ITM University, Gurgaon and at Faculty of Law, Delhi University. How did your appointment take place? Please describe your experience?
My appointment at ITM University as Assistant Professor was a regular appointment. There was an advertisement by the University and I applied. It was followed by few rounds of interviews before the final selection. I was asked to teach Constitutional Law to the students of third and fourth years. Since it was my first teaching assignment, so I found it a bit challenging but in totality it was a great learning experience for me. Whenever my classes went exceptionally well, I always felt so calm and satisfied and that feeling can have no other parallel in the world. My stay at ITM University was followed by another teaching assignment at Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. I taught the subject of Wealth Tax at Law Centre – I. This in itself was a very overwhelming experience for me initially as I was teaching at the same University where I passed out from. I always used to put myself in the shoes of my students. In retrospect, I think I understood by students at DU better but may be this feeling is just psychological.
Tell us about your teaching methodology? What subjects did you teach there?
So far as teaching methodology is concerned, I try my best to keep the concepts of law simple for my students. I always preferred my classes to be interactive rather than a mere lecture discourse. Also I have always paid a lot of stress in case law analysis because that is what ultimately consolidates students’ understanding. So far I have had the opportunity to teach Constitutional Law and Wealth Tax.
What made you to pursue Ph.D.? What is your topic of research for Ph.D.? What was your motivation behind the selection of that topic?
When I cleared my UGC NET, I was simultaneously awarded a Junior Research Fellowship by UGC to pursue Ph.D. in Law. I realized it was a golden opportunity for me to solely dedicate myself for research in law in my decided field. Ph.D. today is essential if you wish to thrive in academics. Additionally, I was lucky enough to obtain my registration in Ph.D. at Delhi University in my area of interest i.e. Water Law. Water is basic for human survival, yet so far as India’s water resource management is concerned; we still have a lot of legal and policy gaps. Groundwater overexploitation, among other factors and the threat posed by climate change in near future will seriously endanger India’s Water Security. My research is an attempt to identify these legal issues and suggest proper remedies so that India’s water future is secure.
Going forward, how do you expect the Ph.D. experience to influence your career?
I obviously wish to be an accomplished academician and researcher in the field of law. I hope that through my Ph.D. thesis, I am constructively able to contribute so far as the understanding of water law in India is concerned. Further I hope that I come across some good opportunities where I can work with accomplished individuals and organizations in this field. I hope that this Ph.D. thesis will place me amongst the good researchers in the field of Water Law.
What would be your message to law students reading this interview?
To all the students of law, I wish, first of all, to congratulate them for the career path they have chosen. You are the leaders of tomorrow and within yourselves lie the potentials to positively impact this country in a way that no other profession can.
Studying law in itself is a very empowering experience and please make most of it. Now unlike other professions, law has a higher gestation period and it will take you sometime to realize your true interest. So in the process, have patience and don’t get disheartened. Success will surely come with hard work and perseverance. Another important thing is to keep yourself updated and acquire excellent communication skills, as this field is very competitive if you wish to carve a niche for yourselves. Further if the circumstances are favourable, do go for higher studies in law. Although LL.B is sufficient to do well in this field but higher studies in law will open up your mental faculties and give you an very analytical and holistic approach towards law. I wish you all the best.