“Serendipity: the effect by which one accidently stumbles upon something truly wonderful”
I started working in the area of legal reforms in 2009. My work has been born completely out of passion. I worked the way I did because that felt right. I somehow always knew that if my heart was in the right place, the road ahead will chart itself out.
Setting the stage for Innovating Justice Competition!
It was only briefly that I had met Sam Muller from the Hague Institute for Internationalisation of Laws (HiiL) at the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council meeting in Abu Dhabi. Sam had encouraged me to apply for their Annual Innovating Justice competition – which attracts outstanding justice innovations from across the world!
I was confident about our project on making a comic book on law for kids, which we call Lawtoons. There was also another idea – LawForMe – to demystify the laws through flowcharts and visuals. Since I was in the process of developing that idea further, I was not entirely assured of it for the competition. Nonetheless, I applied for both the projects.
As the results of the first round of screenings were declared, I was surprised! While LawForMe had made the cut, Lawtoons was screened out! The next stage was online voting and honestly, I was reluctant to spread the word out. I gathered few votes. The deadline for voting passed by and I told myself that ‘I will apply with full force next year.’
One day, I saw an email notification from HiiL. The email read that LawForMe was chosen as a wild card entrée and was now a part of the top 9 justice innovations! I was informed that I was to go to Netherlands! I was to make a pitch for LawForMe at the Peace Palace – in front of World’s who’s who from the legal fraternity!
Going to the Peace Palace and talking about my tryst with Justice and working towards bringing about a change in the Indian legal system – was an overwhelming feeling!
I met the other contestants and started preparing for presentation with them! How amazing it felt – standing shoulder to shoulder with giants of the legal innovation industry – being among the top 9 justice innovations in the world! Thinking about this, even now, gives me goosebumps!
After a full day of preparing and meeting key people from the legal industry, I awaited the next day! The day, I had to make the pitch AT the Peace Palace in front of hundreds of people!
There was a sense of nervousness and excitement in the air before the pitch. Everyone was seated in the posh looking yet modern auditorium inside the Peace Palace. When my turn came, I went up on the stage and poured my heart out! I spoke about the plight of access to justice in Indian society and how in India, people have technology but not justice. I spoke about my own experiences to create better access to justice as a lawyer and ended with the optimism of LawForMe – of making laws simple and accessible with the aid of technology. I almost forgot where I was and came back to my senses only when I got down from the stage and walked back to my seat! I felt empowered. I felt as if my passion for legal reforms had spoken through me – I felt happy!
Selection of slides from the presentation
Both days, during the feedback sessions – I felt so lucky! A diverse group comprising of senior lawyers, Supreme Court judges, Ministers of justice, Advocate Generals, prominent academicians from all over the world – some of the most renowned people within the legal industry were all sitting around one table – guiding me, suggesting ideas for my innovation, telling me things which were all music to my ears!
Evening was the time for the highlight: announcing the winners! Contestants had to wait just below the stage and go up as our name was to be called out.
That moment was not just made up of minutes – it was made up of 6 years: of working each day in my small office, trying to make a difference in the legal system of India. That moment was, as if, a witness to the millions toiling every single day in the courts of India, trying to get justice. That moment held with it all those times I had decided NOT to give up – to continue my fight. And when my name was called out as the winner, I knew I was not alone – it was also the hope – that change is possible!
26 November 2014: the Law Day: the day that changed my fate! I found people who put faith in my passion and my vision for a better legal system in India; people who through ‘Innovating Justice’ Prize gave me wings to fly on this journey to demystify laws through design and technology!
The flight has just begun: hold your seatbelts tight!