Interview by Yash Panchal
Fr. Dr. Davis Panadan Varghese CMI is currently designated as the Principal of Christ Academy Institute of Law. His educational qualifications include a Bachelor of Theology, Philosophy, Economics, and Law. His postgraduate qualifications include LL.M. He also has an M.Phil and Ph.D. degree at the research level.
Dr. Davis has served as the Director of Post Graduate Centre at DVK for the year 2009-12 and as Director of DVK Research Centre for the year 2012-2017. He has also served as finance administrator of DVK, Bangalore for the year 2012-15. He possesses Teaching Experience at National University of Juridical Sciences, Calcutta in the subjects of Public International Law, Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law, and Family Law) in 2009. Dr. Davis has received “Kempegowda Award” for a social worker from Brughat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike in 2011.
Dr. Davis’ experience in the education industry
Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK) is one of the largest ecclesiastical institutes in India. For me, heading the Post Graduate Centre and the Research activities at DVK was a unique experience. It gave me insights into the intricacies of research, including the selection of research areas, appropriate methodology to be adopted, and the purpose of research in society. In general, it provided me a platform, wherein, I got the opportunity to understand the society and got to know the importance of quality education that a student needs to make the society a better place to live in.
NUJS was a different experience, as I was largely involved in the teaching stream. It was a learning experience in understanding the emerging areas and issues in law, and how to design the curriculum as per the industry-standards. The pedagogy is another important area. These experiences at two different institutions, focusing on two various aspects of knowledge, helped me in my outlook towards education. Research and teaching must be given equal importance. One without the other is incomplete. At Christ Academy Institute of Law (CAIL) form day one, we have given importance to both research and teaching.
CAIL ensuring global standards of education
One should be clear as to what does a foreign student look for when he/she chooses to study law in an Indian institution. Some may be coming for quality education, especially those from less developed countries, and some may be coming for the experience of studying law in a developing country. Our institute assures to fulfill both these demands.
CAIL, in many ways, is a microcosm of India. We have students from more than 20 states in India, and they come from varying economic backgrounds. Village exposure and sustainable development are two major focus areas in the coming years. An inbound student will, in addition to the quality education, experience the rich diversity of India and get first-hand knowledge of how the Indian legal system works in rural and semi-urban areas.
A comprehensive internship scheme is followed at CAIL and special focus for preparing the students for judicial service. During their first two years, the students are required to compulsorily intern with an NGO, trial advocate, High Court lawyer, Judicial clerkship and a teaching/research-based internship. The rest of the 3 years is open for the students to intern at any place of their choice, including corporate firms. This is aimed at broadening the student’s horizon as to the various job opportunities available to them at the end of 5 years.
Note: At present, 25% of the seats are reserved for students from rural areas of Karnataka. We also have a very liberal scholarship policy that encourages diversity in our campus.
Roles and responsibilities as the Principal of CAIL
In the initial years, it is challenging for any administrator to understand the potential of each student. With this, having a proper vision and direction for the Institution is an essential task. Recruiting a dedicated and devoted faculty who are equally committed to the growth of the institution is also an important task. Students are our ambassadors, so assuring the happiness of my students and keeping them satisfied by providing them quality education is another responsibility that I have to take care of.
Challenges: Introduction and fastly changing of technology has posed to be a big challenge for each institute. In the coming future, law and legal education may have to be reoriented to address to these changes.
Curriculum of Christ Academy Institute of Law
At CAIL, we not only impart syllabus-oriented knowledge to the students but also inculcate reading, researching, drafting and presentation skills in them.
As we are affiliated to Karnataka State Law University, we are bound by the curriculum of the University. KSLU is continuously updating its curriculum to keep up to the changing needs of the legal system. Also, at CAIL, we have introduced add on courses that introduce students to the emerging areas in law.
International investment arbitration, infrastructure law, and policy, and more are examples of add on programs offered by CAIL. We also give much emphasis on skills training. Guest lectures by industry leaders is another way of connecting theory with practice at CAIL. The students are further exposed to the application of theory to practice with the help of moot courts, internships, and interaction with industry experts to equip them for best placements.
What makes the institute stand out!
CAIL is known for its diverse student body, highly qualified faculty, top-notch infrastructure. Also, we are one of the best employers in Karnataka when it comes to employee satisfaction. Tutor system that we have introduced in the first year is another innovation. It helps the first-year student to get a mentor to guide him/her in both professional and personal matters.
Availability for the students
Even though we are expanding at a fast pace, the faculty – administration – student relationship is very warm and can be described as ‘family-like’. I follow an open-door policy, any student or faculty member is most welcomed at any time of the day to discuss their personal or professional problems. I also take rounds and hold lectures in order to understand and build the required repo with them.
Read more about CAIL Faculty
Upcoming goals for CAIL
CAIL is in its third year of existence and is expanding at a much faster pace than expected. Our vision of delivering socially engaged legal education, meeting the highest global academic and professional standards is reiterated daily.
Ten years down the line, we want CAIL to be known as a center of excellence in both teaching and research. Village lawyering is one area that we would like to focus in the coming years. We hope that within a short span, CAIL will be a preferred global destination for research in this area.
Suggestions for the youth
The students are living in a transformative phase, having opportunities in abundance. My only suggestion or advice to them is to set a goal, take those baby steps every day and stay focused until they achieve their ultimate goal! Luck has favoured only those who worked hard.