Gautam John is full of hope for law students turning entrepreneurs. He cites the example of his own batch (NLSIU batch of 2002) which produced: Sachin Malhan, Nikhil Chandra and of course, him.
Gautam John is a TEDindia fellow, a ‘recovering’ IP lawyer, an entrepreneur, project manager and a foodie. He recently also became one of the creative commons superheroes!
We caught up with Mr. John on email and on phone. We hope his example will encourage law students to travel the road less travelled.
1. Why did you choose law? How did you land at NLS? Your academic record? Your interests@Law School? The five years and the learnings?
I chose law because it seemed to be, and in hindsight was, the best liberal arts education in India. Also, I was horrible at Math and didn’t want to be a doctor. In 1997, it was NLS or bust if you wanted to do law and being Bangalore based was an advantage.
I certainly wasn’t at the top of my class at NLS.
During law school, I have to confess that I spent much time on interests other than law – cultural fests and all. The five years at NLS were fantastic – absolutely no better place I could have gone to. It’s not so much what they taught as much as the method they gave us all to view the world and that has held me in good stead. Also, made many life long friends.
2. Why IP law? Why not a law firm?
Because it’s fascinating and allowed me to combine my interests in technology and the law.
3. Work you do with NGOs: Pratham and Akshara? How being a lawyer helps? You said no to peer pressure; how come?
I work with both Akshara Foundation and Pratham Books. Being a lawyer always helps and more so at Pratham Books because a lot of the work I do is grounded in Copyright Law. Being a lawyer is a useful thing.
[Mr. John also does a lot of project management and advisory work for these NGOs and his work is not always law related].
As for peer pressure, it never existed. My friends from NLS aren’t all lawyers and all of them do varied and interesting things. In fact, my friends have been tremendously supportive and helpful.
4. Advice to entrepreneurs. Advice to law students.
Don’t be afraid to be a lawyer. More importantly, don’t be afraid to stop being a lawyer. [Mr. John told us that for law students interested in education working or interning at Akshara Foundation or Pratham books should be a good learning experience].
You can follow Mr. John on twitter http://twitter.com/gkjohn