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Samvaad

From the Editor’s Desk
NILANJANA BHATTACHARJEE

With this issue that you are reading now, Samvaad becomes exactly a year old. And it has been a great journey with you- for in creating and nurturing Samvaad, we

have grown immeasurably ourselves, as professionals and as people. What has made the journey all the more special is the enthusiasm with which our efforts were greeted. The satisfaction that that enthusiasm has given us is our only incentive, and it is with gratitude for the same that we present this issue. The theme this time is legal entrepreneurship, and the people who speak are path breakers in their fields. From a consumer complaints portal, to the reason why most of us have cleared CLAT (read LST), the stories are inspired and inspiring. To give up on plush jobs to chase your dreams to the end of the rainbow requires courage, motivation and strength of conviction, which each of these stories are steeped in. If you have the courage to think differently, perhaps this will be your window to their world: It is a world of excitement, courage

and belief. This issue captures the ‘Samvaad’ spirit, which is creating something lasting with a rebellion. In keeping with this spirit, Samvaad is now going to create a portal for memories – a portal where we all write and we write for ourselves. This portal or website, as we envisage, will give us all a chance to share our thoughts on poetry, mooting, music, law, internships, life, and all that is there to it. That is to say, a website that would do exactly what we do, only on a greater scale. Needless to say, you, the reader will be the author, and it is important for you, everything that made you who you are today.

with you that we wish to take this journey forward. Please feel free to contribute anything and everything that was

Of Making Rain, and other things

Sachin Malhan
It was 1999 and creativity was in the air. It was the year when men and women in Bangalore, or in the more colorful climes in the Silicon Valley, were all creating dotcom startups. You couldn’t go to a coffee shop without being infected by that virus, as we were eventually. A bunch of us decided to go for some fun and creating great learning content to help students get through NLS seemed like a good way to do that. It also made sense that we should create something fun and solid and we did. Law school contributed towards this immensely. I was part of a group of peers (my classmates) that enriched my thinking considerably. Many of them were way smarter than me and helped me improve my skill sets. The ‘question Sachin Malhan is the cofounder of LST, Rainmaker and Inclusive Planet. He is an alumnus of NLSIU, and shares with us his experience in following his calling.

everything’ approach at law schools (maybe it’s more like a ‘question almost everything’ approach) is something that lies at the core of the entrepreneurial work that I’ve been able to do. Knowing that you can trust first-principle thinking more than arbitrary rules, categories and labels gives you strength in a

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world clogged by that stuff. I also believe in first steps - and my first steps towards a creative life were taken in law school. It was with two classmates that I created LST. One of them, a dear friend - Sameer Singh, went on to create an incredible food joint (Moolis) in London. We used ICQ chat software, early email systems, a basic website etc. to interact with students. They started getting admissions. More law schools opened. We got better. And so the story goes. But those days of sitting in our hostel rooms, late at night, over bottles of, er, thums-up and kebabs, and planning out LST were so awesome! Nothing like ‘creating’ something ground-up. The inspiration wasn’t just upfront but got developed along the way. It’s hard not to be inspired by the students you teach. We came across so many spectacular young men and women - many of whom are still in touch. One of my other ventures, Rainmaker, set out to make the legal industry smarter. Not that lawyers weren’t smart enough - but additional training once you graduate, career development and matching right talent for positions, were not really happening in the legal industry. Now, through Rainmaker and its Vahura spinoff, the organization does executive search for the top law firms, career development courses, the national bar exam and a lot more. I was directly involved from 2006 to 2008 - but not since then, when I left to focus on the social impact space. However, the folks running Rainmaker and Vahura are

friends and I see them doing great stuff that’s going to benefit the legal industry in a very real way. I’ve been on a break from ‘legal entrepreneurship’ since 2008. I’ve never seen myself as a ‘legal entrepreneur’ - in fact, I’ve never been big on seeing myself as any category - I’d just like to do stuff that engages me, helps me grow and is

meaningful. If I’m having fun and being useful
then I’m happy. I worked on building Inclusive Planet till late last year, and now am working with Ashoka’s Changemakers to help them build a platform that can help social innovators, i.e. anyone working on an idea to improve the world, succeed in their missions. Some of my greatest experiences have in been teaching students - even if it was something as corny as legal reasoning. That experience, of engaging with eager, fresh-faced 16-17 yearolds, is inimitable. At that age we’re so idealistic and energetic - then we go to college and get a bit too clever for our own good, a bit too cynical. I hope each one of you can retain the core of idealism. Like a wise man once said: “To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great.” One more thing - we never see it that way but law school helps us tell stories. After all, we’re really telling great stories (hopefully true!) in moot courts etc.! Telling stories well is a powerful skill set - useful right through life.

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Cloud Nine
Chetan Tripathy
I joined National Law University, Jodhpur in 2006. I realized, as a law student, my priority was to build upon my various legal interests. I could write a paper, participate in a conference or even be a research assistant. But it was during my time at Jodhpur that I felt that we needed a comprehensive information dissemination mechanism when I realised how difficult and sometimes impossible it is to visit the website of every law school or organisation in search of such opportunities. As future lawyers, it is important that we choose interest areas and engage with them. Project Cloud provides law students a platform to search and tap into opportunities that interest them thereby serving a simple objective for law school students - access to relevant information. This is beneficial in not only creating awareness for a particular competition or magazine but also increasing its popularity. Other features in the website such as Engage allows law students to directly ask questions to announcers and receive answers. One of our latest features that was launched last month has been an Application that allows anyone with an iPhone, iPad and Android phone to follow announcements and upcoming deadlines. Our flexibility also allows anyone running a blog to embed the Project Cloud widget that will help the blogger display the latest announcements. There is a lot of work to be done on Project Cloud. We really need to build a community that is keen to share opportunities with their peers not just in India but across the world. Hopefully, we will be able to see our spirit reflected on Project Cloud and build a global community sharing valuable opportunities with each other. I feel that Law School is a great place to experiment in terms of brainstorming on ideas, looking for product validation and partnering with talented as well as moti-

Founder of the law school portal ‘Project Cloud’, Chetan discusses with Samvaad his experience at Law school and how it helped shape his perspectives. He is an Alumnus of NLU Jodhpur as well as King's College, London.

vated people. The fact that I could conceptualize and launch Project Cloud during law school can only be attributed to the exciting and encouraging atmosphere existing in my University where I felt supported and invigorated. What many of us do not realise or realise too late is that the law school environment is very much like an incubator. While you may receive very little or no institutional support, you do have the chance to experiment and work on any number of ideas that interest you. As a second year student at NLUJ, I started the NLU Green Club having returned inspired from an internship at the United Nations Center for Regional Development, Japan. Although the University did not oppose the initiative, they seemed uncomfortable when we started petitioning them to invest in various environmentally friendly infrastructure. While some of them did get implemented, many did not. Ultimately, the lessons I took were not of failure or success but rather the skills that I picked up along the way which help me even today.

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iPleaders
Ramanuj Mukherjee
iPleaders is a legal education company - we use vestors and fitechnology to make practical legal knowledge acces- nally the cus-

You sible. Learning law makes one a better decision tomers. would require maker. Law can also be a great tool for strategy many other skills He an Alumnus of NUJS. He making, and this is why businessmen can use law too depending on speaks to us of his debut venmore effectively than lawyers in some situations if what you are ture on encouraging entrepre-

they are aware of it. On the other hand, there are going to do. So neurs in India and equipping them with the Legal Edge. few resources they can use at the moment, because the most imporbooks on law are not written keeping a non legal tant step in doing something different is to iden-

clientele in mind. To fill up this void, we started our tify the skills needed and hone them. Most lawyers in India are very averse to first course as a joint venture with NUJS. This will also be suitable for law students who would like to learn the practical aspects of law, which are mostly taking risks when it comes to doing anything outside the traditional practice models (legal

ipleaders began as a reaction to the discontent I felt most lawyers acquire these skills in practice, at my job profile at a law firm. I was working with they are already too entrenched to start afresh. many entrepreneurs who I saw growing at a much After having invested so much in their

chambers and law firms). We are also not not taught. There are many more courses in the trained in essential business skills like, although pipeline. they are important in legal practice. By the time

higher pace in terms of professional, financial and present career, to start up from that point is very personal growth, while I had little scope and re- difficult for most lawyers. However, there is a sources to develop my abilities. I always had ideas in huge scope in the market in terms of technology the back of my head that I wanted to give shape to. I development, education, publishing etc., which

felt that I could do much more if all of my skills are students can, and should tap with the skills that utilized. So starting afresh seemed to be the best they have. We need young lawyers to take the choice. plunge, to think out of the box to create a suc-

Education in Law is not the foremost requisite cessful legal entrepreneurship eco-system. You'd for a career as a legal entrepreneur. One needs to de- notice that all the successful legal startups such velop a diverse set of skills to be successful in getting as LST, Rainmaker, Legally India or Lawctopus a startup off the ground. Firstly, a thorough under- have been started by young lawyers or law stustanding of your target market would help. Then, dents. I feel that for law students to do that, we marketing skills need to be developed considerably - must encourage and support them in a big way. and that does not mean knowing how to advertise. That support be it from institutions or from You need to convince a lot of people about your idea families, is what will give young lawyers the - your potential co-founders, future employees, in- spring board from which to take the leap.

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The Story of Lawkhoj and Legal Sutra
Arjun Sheoran
I belong to Chandigarh and I currently practice law at the Punjab and Haryana High Court. I got into NLSIU in the year 2006. When I joined law school, my IT skills were limited. The motiva-

tion for me to work on this was never, and has never been

I started Lawkhoj in the year 2010, as I realised that as law students while researching for our papers and moots we end up using various really useful websites but the whole experience is tedious as one has to use the notso-advanced search engines of different web journals and websites. Plus one has to go to these websites to get the relevant research material as search engines like

money and both my initiatives (thus not

businesses) were not -for-profit ventures. I never thought that they’ll gain the moderate popularity that they did and in fact I was encouraged to work on Lawkhoj

Google often are not able to give contextual results. For

example if one searches for the word murder in Google, the first hit it is murder the movie, which is wholly irrelevant for legal research. So, I wondered if it was possible to build a search engine which will not just do con-

What does an award holder for entrepreneurial activities have to say about legal entrepreneurship in India, today? Arjun Sheoran, alumnus of NLSIU enlightens us on that crucial question.

textual research, customised to a legal researcher’s requirements. Consequently, Lawkhoj was created. Now for example, if one searches the term murder using Lawkhoj,

and Legalsutra only after several people found it useful.

one will get the legal definition, case law, academic papers on murder. Another thing I had in mind was that I

ship full time, I believe the parameters would be very different as financial considerations are involved.

However, if one is getting into entrepreneur-

must build something that gives access to every legal re-

The thrill of running one’s own venture is unparalleled and an experience of a lifetime and even if one doesn’t build one’s venture into a money making machine, one will surely learn great skills and lesson that’ll be useful all through life. I think each year

searcher with an internet connection to the wide variety of excellent yet undiscovered academic research resources such as free to use legal databases, web journals, government web resources etc.

Lawkhoj was built with help from a IT whiz friend of mine. The response to Lawkhoj has been pretty good and it enjoys popularity amongst law students and lawyers. After the success of Lawkhoj I realised that, a legal search engine was only as useful as the material it can find and what would really help the law student/ lawyer community was a free to use online legal database.

spent doing something of your own is worth several years of working for someone. Lawkhoj and Legalsutra are both aimed at law students and legal professionals, and provide (free) legal research tools and resources. I plan to expand the facilities offered by both these websites using professional help. In addition to it I am currently looking at a few ideas, especially

Now Legalsutra reaches researchers across the globe and has about ten thousand typed pages of academic research papers on about 60 different areas of law, which have been contributed by authors from all over India. Furthermore, Legalsutra has a variety of legal research tools incorporated into it as well.

using mobile phone apps which will make a lawyer’s and litigant’s life easier. Hence, last month I launched an android app for conveniently displaying the EDisplay Board of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In the coming time I plan to come out with something

similar for other High Courts and the Supreme Court with added functionality of case status search etc.

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Vakilsearch

Hrishikesh Datar
Vakil search is much more than a search engine for lawyers or legal advice. We have come, just get it done on his phone travelling to while

built a Company that can serve the world, legal solutions and services using a largely automated, technology we're actually at the forefront of creating a driven

from India. Aiming to provide world class platform,

work or back.

new system. This system would transform the

We have an excellent and growing relationship with the CII, and that has really helped the

way legal services are acessed every day, very much like Amazon has transformed the landscape in the US, eliminating the need to Flipkart also threatens to do in India). visit a bookstore or appliances store (which

Speaking on how a lawyer search engine could grow and develop to be a fully euipped legal service provider, Datar takes us through his formative years, and what he took away from them.

Unlike a masters or a counsel practice, we

While most of

us.

don't fit into an existing institutional set-up, nor are we participants in an existing system. It is a revolution we want to create in a

building has been done by vakilsearch.com itself, and we have managed to create a popular brand in our space, there is no doubt that the relation-

brand

world hitherto dominated by mom and pop lawyers and law firms. Our vision is that the default for a person needing legal or profeshis computer or tablet; or in the years to

ship with CII is a great asset and one whose potential we are yet to fully realise. There is great perately need quality support at an wallet friendly price. potential even for them, as their members des-

sional assistance should be to go online on

Concept: Editorial

Peeyuse Prakhar Nilanjana Bhattacharjee

Shreyas Shrivastava

Design:

Sonal Girdonia
Public Relations:

Subhra Mahapatra Sharanya Mukherjee

Astha Sinha Rucha Anant Pande Sandhya Shridhar Akshata Singh Anjali

The Team

Special Thanks To:
Ankur Singla Gautam John Arjun Sheoran Sachin Malhan Chetan Tripathy Ramanuj Mukherjee Hrishikesh Datar

And to everyone else who believed in us