By Mamta Siwakoti, Advocate, Social Media Specialist (The Digital Lawyer)
In 2009, as I stood in the queue for my passport in the District Administration Office, I heard a middle-aged man comment “I would rather want my son decay in foreign land than stay in this hellhole of a country”. I was 14 then, I am 25 now and this is still one of the common sentiments of the general public in Nepal. Instability, impunity, underdevelopment, corruption have been among few indicators of my country.
This was the incident that first inspired me to do something inside the country. This dramatic trigger to be a lawyer was further substantiated by my proximity with the legal profession. Having a father who worked as a lawyer gave me first hand understanding of the profession and the prospects, opportunity and challenges that come along. And the more I understood the legal field, the more I became drawn to it.
I joined BA. LLB. in 2013 in Kathmandu School of Law. That was where my father completed his LLM. When I started my journey of Law, I aimed to become a bureaucrat, specifically one working in Foreign Ministry. However, as my years in Law started to grow, I started leaning more towards litigation. The paucity of women in litigation was what drove me to pursue this field. I was particularly inspired by noted women lawyers like Meera Dhungana and Sapana Pradhan Malla and their contribution in the society for the rights of women and marginalized communities.
In pursuing my goals, I did face a lot of challenges. Firstly, I was not a confident speaker which is deemed a weakness for a law student. Public speaking would make my voice break, my hands clammy and my mind blank. But, thankfully I had good mentors and supportive friends who helped me in my journey of bettering myself. It was a dream comes true when I became National Champion in two major a moot court competitions and got the opportunity to represent my country in the international arena. It reiterated my belief in the quote “Practice makes perfect”.
Another major challenge that has been prevalent in all our lives for more than a year today is COVID-19. It was in March 2020 that I received my advocate’s license. I was geared to go to the Court, however, COVID happened and all plans were on halt. But, the beauty of our profession is that it’s diverse, you can choose any path if you have the will. I always desired to help people through legal means and the lockdown provided a beautiful alternative to me, the social media platform. I uploaded a video and the rest is history. You know me as The Digital Lawyer today and the Social Media Influencer.
Laxmi Nani Thapa, Advocate, Faculty and Law counsellor , Founder of Lotus Legal Clinic , Faculty of Law and Psychology , Psychologist
Leadership is something like leading other people and making them your follower but for me, it is leading my own life and being a follower of my own dream and I dream the reality or the reality is led by the dream. Reality is subjective in its nature but the truth is universal where life and the world is treated unjustly, unfairly and unequally and reality is we are also one of the survivor. So I always dream to change it into justice, fairness and equality with full compassion and integrity. Change is something which is very hard to establish by one but yes one can initiate and contribute with the knowledge, skills and the wisdom. Social Justice is my core aim in life and pursued my academic degree accordingly and got involved in social activities altogether.
I was born in the rural village of Sindhupalchok district as a younger daughter of the family and lost my father in childhood where I grew up with two younger brothers without parents . My childhood was not so smooth as most of the other children though, I had raised myself by putting all the effort and hardwork without giving up in even any life threatening situations.
The stubbornness of achieving whatever I have dreamt in life with my own annexation and affinity is my attitude towards life. My academic career started from a community school of Sunkoshi-6 named Shree Mahendrodaya Higher Secondary School and passed SLC from there.
I had decided to move to the capital city to continue my academic journey in Law, but I couldn’t join Law directly after my SLC. I had to finish my Bachelor’s Degree to join LLB and I reached Padmakanya College by wandering here and there to start PCL (Proficiency Certificate Level or Plus 2) where I had started my PCL in English, Social Service and Psychology. I had continued Social work and Psychology in Bachelor from there.
I had a scholarship from my school as I came first in rank in school but it was discontinued because I had not chosen to go to technical school or the science stream to pursue the career of a nurse, doctor or engineer. However I had maintained strengths and started 2 part time jobs and finished my Bachelor Degree through self study.
After my Bachelor’s Degree, I was very much excited to join Law college for LLB and Master Degree in Psychology, but unfortunately I couldn’t get my transcript because of some technical error and the carelessness of the college that it didn’t submit the practical marks of Psychology and I had to bear the consequence. Without any fault, I was denied my certificate and asked to appear the exam again as a back paper even though I had passed the exam with good marks. It was unacceptable for me because of the austerity of 5/6 years of my life and again I became the bystander of the above mentioned reality that was unfair and unjust but the truth was I had done all my efforts for 5 years and was supposed to get the result of it. I had to run TU and College for almost one year and keep fighting for my transcript. I was ignored, isolated, dominated and abused verbally, emotionally and psychologically throughout the process. One day as I was arguing with the Vice Controller for my certificate, he shouted at me and said stop coming to the office. He even threatened me by saying “whatever you do ,do it, wherever you go, go for it but stop irritating us” with the intention of not addressing my concern. The one statement of them was “if you want to go to court against us, please go for it, we don’t care, but we don’t/ can’t issue your transcript” which created an insight inside me to start the legal journey as it was against my right to education and right to equality that others from same batch were getting it and why not me? Even though I had completed all the processes that the curriculum had set. I thought why I had to suffer because it wasn’t my fault, it’s theirs. I had decided to file the case to save the most cherished aspect of my life that was my self respect, dignity and self esteem.
Thank God! The high court of Patan had issued the interim order by giving the verdict of not to keep any barrier for my further study.I had already passed the entrance exams,so that due to the Interim order I got an admission for LLB and MA in Clinical Psychology but I had to sign in the written application that if didn’t submit the certificate “within a week”, I wouldn’t be able to pursue the degree. Just imagine how panicked and tortured I was during that time. With this level of risk I decided to go to the Supreme court after the case was dismissed by the high court.
The supreme court had issued decision after 5 years of struggleful curtailed right to dignified life, equality, education,justice and right against torture. And the journey of psychology with tons of stress, anxiety, uncountable panic attacks and depression ( still traumatic) which really made the “Real Me” today so NO REGRET. Finally I got the decision of the Supreme court that I won the case. The transcript of BASW ( deprived earlier), LLB and MA Clinical Psychology I got on the same day.
Everyone asks the child what they want to be in the future. I was also asked by many people. I had never answered them as Doctor, Pilot or Engineer or not even Lawyer but yes, The Justice- The Chief Justice! This is the goal.This is the aim and this is the dream for which my whole sense organs with every cell of body including the mind and heart is longing and preparing unconditionally and selflessly.
For the mission of Social Justice one needs to understand the various dimensions of human psychology and society.Therefore,I had done Master degree in Clinical Psychology, LLM degree in International Human Rights and Gender Justice and the Political Science which has given me the wise understanding of the life and the world since I am working in the same field as a Lawyer, Psychologist, Social Worker, Social Justice Activist, Educator and the theater performer too.
I had started my legal career with my own journey of justice at a very young age. Being an advocate I had launched litigation from the Supreme Court practising on civil and criminal cases in all the district courts, high courts and Supreme courts. Besides that I work on Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and in other constitutional rights as Pro bono Lawyer. My serious concern always lies on the issues of citizenships or statelessness, people’s life and liberties, right to food, shelter, health,education fair trial etc. and any case of human rights violation from the both perspective of criminology and victimology specially in case of Children,Women and other helpless people seeking for justice. I always stand with the victims until the court gives its verdict presenting the case with available legal, administrative, constitutional or other remedies.
With the symbolic meaning of Lotus my legal career is continuing with the Lotus Legal Clinic, my career in psychology is continuing with Lotus Psychosocial Support Clinic ( Counselling Clinic) after serving in many other organizations. Lotus is the flower which has special meaning in eastern religions, as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth cycle of the earth even when its roots are in the dirtiest water or muds.
Under the Lotus group there are other two ventures “Lotus Photography School” and “Lotus Unifashion” ( A fancy Store and Boutique) too.
Besides that I had started my teaching career from Khwopa College in BASW as a Lecturer and a Psychologist/ Psychosocial Counselor. I was offered to teach Gender and Inclusive Justice in Master and BASW by K and K International College. Now I am performing the role of a faculty member of Law and Psychologist/ Psychosocial Counselor. In addition, I am also working as a Child Psychologist( Specialist) in Kathmandu District Court. This is how my professional career is balanced as suggested by the British naturalist Charles Darwin that the organisms best adjusted to their environment are the most successful in surviving and reproducing.The famous term Survival of the Fittest is itself a law of evolution and some traditional approaches to making law or the justice should be adopted by the easy, agile and quick process in the fair investigation, prosecution, judgement and appeal by the law administration and the bench itself.
Challenging all the risks and working off the track being abided by the professional ethics makes the profession interesting and that is pushing me to establish the rule of law and making justice accessible for all. Being a new generation woman lawyer, I must have the courage to challenge the so-called established rules and the age-long systems. The experiences of all kinds of domination, disbelief, doubt, isolation, discouragements, abuses,harassments, inequality, nepotism,behaviour towards new lawyers should be well analysed and modified if necessary or we have to fight back if it’s illegitimate and unbearable to establish or adjust ourselves in the existing legal fraternity in terms of law administration, Bar, bench, lawyers community and the concerned individual or the organization .
For the Young Women Lawyer’s career success, struggle and strategies for a more inclusive legal profession we have carried some core characteristics of the humbleness, discipline, respect to seniors and learning from them under their guardianship are the moral education which are more than a degree from a Law School/College. In fact, it is the primary assimilation within ourselves with positive thought, positive attitude and the behaviour which always leads us to our dream. The faith in dream and the confidence to pursue the dream into reality is the key to achieve and cherish it. If we are really mad to celebrate our aim or the dream, we have to celebrate our every journey. It doesn’t matter whether it is smooth or full of struggles. There will be an untiring effort to translate the dream into reality. Now the time has come and we must take the lead. The dream will follow us for sure and we will have to wait to meet and hug the dream. This is how leadership achieves the dream and we will be the leader or the achiever of our own dream of life, which will give us the personal/ subjective feelings of success of our ultimate goal set by ourselves. And for me, yes, that is obviously my dream to contribute towards social justice.
Now I am enjoying this journey of justice and equality.
By Lisha Dangol, Advocate, Human Rights/Research Officer, Faculty and Law Counselor
I was born to an advocate father and a professional singer mother, both of them were/are equally active in their respective fields. They have always inspired me to contribute to the society that has shaped me into a person that I am today. As a lawyer I saw how my father helped people who otherwise would not have access to justice. I saw him being vocal about any form of atrocities that existed in the society. That is when, as a fourth grader, I decided that I will follow the path of my father and become a lawyer.
I have always been keen on my studies and thus completed Bachelors in Law with good scores in various subjects. I was awarded with a medal during my convocation in 2015 by the Honorable Prime Minister of Nepal, KP Sharma Oli for scoring the highest score in Constitutional Law. After completing my Undergraduate studies, I started to work in a law firm whereby I learnt the basics of litigation. In 2016, I received a Chinese Government full scholarship to study Masters in International Law at Wuhan University. Studying in China, with colleagues from all over the world widened my horizon. I learnt a great deal but more importantly I made friends and memories for life. I still feel grateful to life for giving me an opportunity to explore life and freedom in a true sense which I think is really important for any woman. After two years of hard work, I completed my graduation as third highest scorer of the batch.
In 2018, I returned to Nepal with an aim to do something in the field of law. I worked with Pro Public- Forum for Protection of Public Interest as a pro bono heritage lawyer. After that, I started a 6-month fellowship with an environmental NGO, Himalayan Climate Initiative. There I was part of various environmental protection campaigns. The most important task I did there was facilitating a legal aid camp for more than 200 women, making them aware of their legal rights as a woman. Another opportunity came to me in 2019, when I was offered a 3 month fellowship to conduct policy research by Daayitwa Nepal- an NGO working to minimize the gap between youth and the government. I was honored to prepare a policy research report on identifying the barriers faced by women in access to their property rights, under the supervision of Honorable Justice of the Supreme Court, Sapana Pradhan Malla.
Since December 2019, I have been working as a Human Rights Officer at Advocacy Forum-Nepal. My work requires me to be updated with the human rights violations that occur in Nepal and in the world overall. Looking at the situation, there are times when I feel dismayed towards the system but a beacon of hope would always emerge. As there is always a silver lining in the black clouds, there is always something that inspires me to work harder and help people have access to justice. I have been teaching law to high school students at Uniglobe College for more than a year now and teaching gives me immense joy. As a lawyer and a teacher, I know I have room for improvement but I am a work in progress. With each day I aspire to be a better person overall.