In conversation with Shivam Ninan on his journey from law school to achieving LAMP fellowship

Shivam is Founder and CEO of Socio Legal Corp. He is on a mission to empower citizens by connecting them to happenings in courts and Parliament and end the gap of legal awareness which has been stopping citizens from enforcing their legal rights. He has pursued BBA LLB from Chanakya National Law University, Patna. He was Convenor of Legal Aid Cell, CNLU. After graduating from CNLU in 2020, he was offered LAMP Fellowship under Dr K. Keshava Rao (MP Rajya Sabha), Chairman of Parliamentary Committee of Industry under which he assisted him in several interventions apart from helping him in preparing 305th Report on Demands for Grants (2021-2022). Currently, while working on Socio Legal Corp, he is preparing to pursue master in law in constitution or international law.

He has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Jyotshna Yashaswi who is currently pursuing law from CNLU.

 

  1. How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Shivam. I am from Patna, Bihar. I have completed B.B.A., L.L.B. from Chanakya National Law University, Patna last year. My father has worked in the Air Force for 20 years, which involved several postings due to which my childhood was spent in different corners of India at places like Assam, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, and Chandigarh (wherein I completed my primary education). I truly believe the environment I was brought up in my formative years has played an important role in shaping my personality.

I completed the latter part of my schooling and fortunately college too in Patna. For me, despite the feeling of moving out of my home state to a metropolitan one to get more exposure and learning, staying in Patna has truly been an enriching experience. Because guess what? At CNLU, I made some of the great friends who make your life better and make you a better person. For me, ‘Friendship’ is something which matters a lot. My friends are the achievements of my life.

When I am not studying or engaged in other activities, one can usually find me watching football or Netflix. My most preferred football player is Cristiano Ronaldo. His mentality, hard work, and consistency are something, which I adore a lot.

  1. What inclined you towards the field of legal education? Do you reckon any specific incident that made you choose law as a career?

Haha, I wish I could come up with a serious reason which changed my life and made me choose ‘Law’ as a career. But to be honest, there is none. I guess the only reason I chose law was because at that time in 12th I had clarity of ‘What is it that I do not want to do?’. Although being a science student, I knew that I did not want to make a career in it and several other options at that time felt vague, something which I was not able to connect myself with.

When it came to the law, I had this impression where there is ample space for writing and speaking and even though I was not very active in debating or writing in my school days, this field used to interest me a lot. In my head, I could see myself being committed to this for a lifetime so I decided to pursue Law. Now when I think, I believe I made the right decision back then.

  1. You have interned in the area of sports law, GST, and other areas. What got you interested in these distinct niches? Also please share any remarkable internship experience which shaped up your career?

I would rather try to answer ‘Why’ than ‘What’. At the beginning of law school, the fact that I had got CNLU and I will have to stay in Patna for the next 5-year was a big deal for me. I wanted to get out of the place at that time. So I mustered the courage to prepare for CLAT again while I was in my first year. Haha, this whole plan blew up in the end. In my first year, I got 4 repeats and 2 backlogs. In case you wonder what happened to the CLAT score? Well, I only scored enough that I was getting an NLU one or two ranks above CNLU. So, you know, for me there was no point in taking admission unless it was in the top 5 NLUs. (God !! I still can’t imagine how almost all of us used to be hooked up with this whole idea of getting admission to NLU and in case if one doesn’t crack then it was like this person will probably not do well further. Now, I would say the TAG does not matter in the long run but it’s your efforts).

 

Yeah, so after having a terrible First Year at law school where also due to preparation I wasn’t much part of what was happening in college, I felt a huge existential crisis in my life. So it was a very conscious decision to work on me and to start experimenting without any further delay. In my 2nd year, I was part of almost every event which happened in college from sports to mooting and debating to mun. I just wanted to have the first-hand experience of everything and learn as much as I could.

 

This is where I thought of doing Internships in sports law because of my love for football. I did an internship with Plawyered (India’s 1st Sports Law Magazine)  where my task was mostly covering important legal developments or disputes in the field of sports. It was a very fun experience. Apart from this, I did an internship with an advocate, several law firms, and a research centre. I did all of this not because of interest but with the ‘idea of experimenting’. I wanted to see if after graduation I see myself doing litigation or working at a law firm. I did all these to gain clarity as to what exactly do I feel comfortable and confident about.

 

The one internship which played an important role after which I felt to pursue a career in law and policy was my last internship in my 5th year at Centre for Criminology and Victimology (CCV), NLU Delhi. Therein my work was related to Research work on Fast Track Courts and creating a report on the performance of courts. The nature of the job and work culture here was so good that I felt this is what I want to do in the future at one point in time.

  1. How important is doing proper legal research and how should law students equip themselves with proper research skills?

“Knowledge is Power” is a famous quote from Game Of Thrones. “Legal research” is that power in the legal fraternity. It is one of the most important skills one should have if they are thinking of making a career in the field of law. The other two skills are speaking and writing. But these two are incomplete without research. Research gives one an understanding of the issues in-depth and helps a person to frame their ideas and arguments in a better way.

 

I think law students should inculcate the habit of reading. They should read on varied subjects ranging from books on law to the book on fiction. This helps them in improving their imagination and creative ability. Apart from this, if one is thinking of writing a research paper then they should refer to tonnes of articles rather than relying on a few. They need to know things in and out on that topic only then they will have clarity of thoughts and will be able to give correct words to their thoughts. In the end, they should have a hang of how to use SCC Online, and HeinOnline as these are a must for them.

  1. Did you always plan to be a part of the LAMP fellowship? If not, what inspired you to go for such an unconventional career path?

Nope. As I said, I have always been experimenting through internships and extra co-curricular activities during my 5-year law school journey. But over the period of time, I realized I am a bit more inclined towards research and academia and was interested in an interdisciplinary approach in the field of law and policy.

 

Also, when I was in law school, I started an initiative called Socio-Legal Corp ( Insta Id – @sociolegalcorp). SLC is on a mission to protect the rights and interests of society by connecting citizens to information on laws and legislation. We are achieving this mission through providing day to day legal news and information, law school updates & queries, policy insights & analysis, and surveys & reports. We also have another platform SLC Social Justice Boot Camp where we conduct legal awareness programs at schools and workplaces. Being associated with Legal Aid Cell for 5-years (and ending up as LAC, Convenor) gave me a great insight into how these events are conducted and I felt that I should start doing it at a personal level too.

 

While being an active participant in writing research papers and trying to make something good from Socio-Legal Corp, during my 9th Semester I got to know about LAMP Fellowship. After going through the nature of the job in the Fellowship I felt it to be the ideal career path. Through the fellowship, I got the opportunity to be one step closer to understanding the implementation of laws/policies. And, this is something that aligns with the future objectives of SLC(which I will answer in further questions) so I decided to give it a try.

  1. How does one apply for the LAMP fellowship(eligibility and other criteria)? Please provide your suggestion to the aspiring LAMP fellows.

The Application for LAMP FellowshipApplications is live around December/January. One needs to stay updated with their website to know any developments regarding fellowship. When it comes to the eligibility, LAMP Fellowship is open to candidates who are 25 years of age or below. Also, candidates must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in any academic discipline. Only Indian citizens are eligible for the LAMP Fellowship.

 

Statement of Purpose (SOP) and Essay on Law/Policy are the two important factors that play a very crucial role in the selection.

Coming on to how to write an SOP? Well, there’s no perfect answer for it as there are many ways people approach their SOP. But here are some suggestions as to what to do or what not to:-

 

What to do-

  1. Make a good opening statement about yourself.
  2. Mention some of your achievements and life-changing events.
  3. Why do you want to do the LAMP fellowship?
  4. How does it align with your future goals?
  5. Why they should take you as a LAMP Fellow?

What not to include-

  1. Writing your achievements throughout your SOP.
  2. Mentioning irrelevant details about your life.
  3. Mentioning achievements, which has less to do with public policy space.

 

In nutshell, you have to be a good storyteller. You need to tell them a story that makes as to why you did what you did in the past and how LAMP Fellowship is that one step that will take you to your future goals. Approach it like this, I believe one will be able to write a superb SOP.

 

Coming on to Essay on Law, make sure you are choosing a topic with which you are comfortable. I think Read, Research, and Review are the key to a perfect essay. So read and research as much as you can on the topic you are planning on writing an essay.

 

Some of the thing which should be there in a policy essay is –

  1. Legislative intention of the bill.
  2. Historical Development.
  3. Amendments/Judgments
  4. Merits/Demerits
  5. Your commentary on the bill.

 

Once you have written your essay make sure you get it reviewed by your friend/professor. I had my Policy Essay reviewed by my faculties of law school, Father Peter Ladis( Faculty of Criminal Law) and Shantanu Choubey ( Faculty of Corporate law). To be honest, due to their suggestions I think I was able to write a good enough Policy Essay. So guys, make sure when you don’t understand something or when you are in doubt, ask for HELP.

  1. Please give an insight into your work experience as a LAMP fellow.

Thanks to the amazing Team at PRS Legislative Research that we had a one-month rigorous training for the fellowship where we got to learn about different aspects of parliament, the working of our MPs, and how we can assist them inside the Parliament.

 

I was allotted to Shri Dr. K KeshavaRao, MP-Rajya Sabha (Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry). Under his guidance, my fellowship has been very enriching and fruitful. He provided me the opportunity to work on different bills and committee reports. I worked on driving numerous Parliamentary interventions including Zero Hour notices. I assisted in preparing the 305th Report on Demand For Grants(2021-22) pertaining to The Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises (Department of Public Enterprises). I drafted briefs for press interactions, seminars, and other stakeholder engagements. Also, I got the chance to prepare speeches for his public engagement on Finance Bill, Farm Bills, Agriculture and Farmers, Mines & Minerals, and other topics.

 

Due to the pandemic, we were not allowed to move to New Delhi for the Monsoon Session and Winter Session. But in the budget session when we were called up, things began to get better for me on a personal level. The highlight of the LAMP Fellowship for me was while assisting my MP it got late around 9 PM. That night when our work was over then my MP came with all the briefs I have worked on and sat with for an hour and a half to give me feedback on work and instructing me where I could improve or what it is that I am not doing actually. So this whole mentor session with him was superb for me.

 

Apart from work, I think I have made some lifetime friends during the LAMP Fellowship. So that’s another big takeaway for me on a personal level.

  1. Do you have any plan to pursue higher studies or are you intending to work in the area of public policy or anything different?

After completing the LAMP Fellowship, I have been preparing for doing Post Graduate in Law from India only. Also, I am back to work on my venture, SOCIO LEGAL CORP. So these are the two priorities for me currently. I wish to make a future in public policy through SLC only. As we are planning to make our own research centre at SLC focusing on law and public policy.

 

I have done 5 years of law school. I have worked for 1 year in the public policy space. I think now is the time to get expertise in law by doing a master’s. So that once I have enough experience and expertise, through SLC I can better the lives of people around me by protecting their rights and interests.

  1. Would you like to give any parting message to our readers?

Do Experiment. Make Mistakes. Get clarity. Try to be part of everything in your formative years in law school. Figure out what works for you. Take baby steps in that direction and start gaining expertise and experience in that area.

 

One of the most important things – “Make good friends at law school/college. Dost hi kaamaatehainbaadmein”

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