This interview has been conducted by Geetika Srivastava, Campus Manager, USLLS.
University topper for over 6 semesters, recipient of University Scholarship fund, Academic School Representative and Executive Member of the Student Body Council of the University, a black belt in Taekwondo, a professional ballerina having performed in 3 productions, trained in classical Hindustani Vocal Music, an intern at top law firms such as Amarchand, Luthra and Luthra and others, Gold medal winner at Delhi state level for artistic skating, roles in Bollywood movies such as “Fukrey”, cover girl for Cosmopolitan Magazine Delhi Edition in 2011, and to top everything off a Debater par excellence, there is probably very little that Shilpi Nanda cannot do.
Better known as the “gem” in USLLS’s crown, this young woman is humble, beautiful, and sharp.
Here are some questions which we asked her:
1. What inspired the law school decision?
As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer, because it made me feel strong, aware and empowered.
As a little girl, I watched my father practise for a few years and then head towards corporate direction. It’s not like I really understood what he used to do for a living back then, but his black coat always fascinated me. That’s probably when the seeds were sown.
As I grew up, my interest in sociology, economics and political science made me choose humanities in my higher education. So once I completed my schooling years, I knew that for me law school was the only way to go.
2. You have been a consistent topper. How do you prepare?
Personally, exam time has always been a stressful time for me! I start about 10 days in advance of my papers. I get hold of the past six year papers of the university and read the pattern that follows the questions. I mark my syllabus, get books and consult my seniors if anything extra needs to be taken care of in the subject.
It is important for me to get my reading text ready, as I don’t like to run around for notes during my exams. A lot of times due to shortage of time, or vastness of syllabus I prefer selective studying, so that I can focus on the main repetitive questions.
I like to make a list of case laws to memorise for every subject before my examinations begin. And I make a point to revise my syllabus, before appearing for the paper.
As law papers can get a little technical, it is hard to recall everything in detail if I don’t revise the morning of the exam.
3. You have a more than impressive amount of extracurricular activities on your CV. How do you manage to balance that with academics?
It has not always been so easy for me! I am a day scholar, so I spend three hours travelling, and with law school classes and ballet classes it gets extremely tedious to manage. However, I plan my holidays ahead and squeeze in internships, social work and mooting activities as much as I can.
I keep a to do list, and if I am not able to do my assigned tasks on time, I just try better next time. I am a still a student, and I am continuously learning from my errors. Keeping my head on a positive note always helps me.
Plus, I have an extremely supportive set of friends and family who keep me motivated whenever I feel like it is getting too much to handle.
I would not be happy with myself if I were just doing well academically, I strongly believe in a well rounded personality. It is so essential to interact with different sets of people in different environment, and learn from them.
I strive not only to be a good lawyer, but a good person as a whole.
4. What kind of internships have you pursued till now and which one has been the most memorable?
Till now, I have interned with seven corporate law firms and one government organisation which include Amarchand Mangaldas & Shroff Co, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, J. Sagar Associates, Gurgaon, Dua Associates, Vaish Associates Advocates, Link Legal Offices, Dhir & Dhir Offices and the Central Information Commission, New Delhi.
My father has been a guiding light as to my career in law. I have planned out my internships at top tier corporate law firms, wanting to specialise general corporate, banking law and project finance.
For me, the experience of Amarchand Mangaldas & Shroff Co., New Delhi has been the most memorable internship experience. This is solely due to the quality of work that was assigned to me.
The senior associate that I was assigned under treated me as part of the team, where my suggestions were valued and I was kept on my toes. This is an experience hard to find at a top tier law firm.
She encouraged me to improve my performance and called me back for another internship with the firm. At the end of the internship, I enjoyed submitting my research paper and presenting the same.
5. Tell us about Ballet and your passion for it.
Beyond the walls of the classroom, the identity of a ballerina is the closest I can identify myself with and has had profound impact on who I am today.
I have been training in the beautiful art of Russian Vaganova Ballet since the past five years now, under the instructions of Mr. Fernando Auguilera with the Imperial Fernando Ballet Company. Alongside, I have trained in lyrical contemporary, jazz and hip hop forms of dance.
Ballet training, specifically, has demanded brutal precision and perfection from me, which reflects in my approach to academia.
As a dancer, I have been expected to meet the standards of the company which has pushed me to meticulously work on my technique, etiquettes and musicality. Accordingly, I have performed in productions of Swan Lake and La Bayaderey Ballet.
These productions require extensive coordination with other ballerinas who come from different parts of the world which brings diversity into the classroom.
I have had the opportunity to demonstrate this beautiful art in a mainstream Bollywood movie: ‘Fukrey'(2013) and in ‘RC Cola’ advertisements.
However, my passion for ballet has never hindered my academic merit. In fact, I have often found myself preparing for my law class assessments backstage before my recital performances.
Never could I have imagined that the precision and dexterity of dance would facilitate the learning of logical subject like law.
6. Future plans?
I hope for a career as a successful corporate lawyer specialising under banking and finance law at at top tier firm in India.
However, before I start my career, I plan to complete an LLM under specialisation of banking laws from a prestigious university.
7. What has been your most memorable incident in law school?
This happened a few weeks ago, I was visiting college for my last year final project submissions and was waiting for my professor to arrive at his office. One of my old professors saw me and invited me to join her in her office.
She is one of the most learned yet strictest professors of our college. When she used to teach us, I was terrified of her and to impress her was really difficult. She was really polite to me and enquired about my future plans.
And then all of a sudden she pulled out a project from her drawer. It was a project that I had submitted to her three years ago. She had kept it neat and intact. I was surprised that she still had it, because she has taught so many students and I thought of my project as just another submission in the huge pile.
She told me that day that she was so touched by my work, that she has been using my project as a guideline for the past three years for juniors who come up to her for help.
She wanted me to know that she was proud of me, and that I was one of the brightest students she had taught in her teaching career.
I was so touched, I literally had tears in my eyes, because I wasn’t expecting this at all. I thanked her warmly and quickly got out of the room to grasp some air so that she doesn’t realise that I was being an emotional mess.
8. Any tips for those who’re trying to build a well rounded CV?
It is very important to recognise your strength as a law student, whether it is in academics or in other activities like mooting. However, it is important to try your hands at everything in law school.
Participate in as many committees, moots, debates, academic conferences, volunteer work, internships, research paper submissions and any other opportunity that is thrown your way as a student.
However, keep in mind that your CV must be focused towards the direction of your interest area. For example: If one wants to specialise in finance, then research papers relating to financial laws are preferred and show clarity of direction in the CV.