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Meet Ms Smeeksha Pandey who completed her under graduation BA.LLB. (H) Specialization in IPR from Amity Noida. She went on to practice in Indore High Court. She did masters from Hidayatullaha National Law University, Raipur in IPR. Pursued certified courses in posh from IALM Delhi, Courses from Harvard Edx on Justice and Children’s Rights. She has had 3 years of experience in the field of litigation and has done over 30 sessions on various socio-legal issues in the past year.
Presently she is teaching law students and CLAT aspirants also and is actively doing counselling and Mediation in association with online Alternate Dispute Resolution platforms. She has headed the Jabalpur district Lok Adalat as district core organised by Sama online ADR platform. Got an opportunity to train police officials about the online alternative dispute resolution under the pilot project of Sama Lok Adalat taking place in Madhya Pradesh Council member at Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Here’s the excerpt from the Interview with Ms Smeeksha Pandey
Legal Bites: Ma’am, you have experience in diverse legal fields starting from Intellectual Property Law to also being an Associate Editor with the Journal on International Human Rights Practices but what was it that had drawn you towards mediation in the end?
Ms. Smeeksha Pandey: I think when we talk about the legal field it is restricted to one picture of fighting cases in layman terms but the true term is we contend it’s never a fight. As the jurisprudential aspect has taught us that there are different Schools of Thought and in each situation, we discuss which school should prevail. This field has enormous capabilities and opportunities to offer if you are open to learning and evaluating how the growth or your work trajectory should look in the bigger picture and I strongly feel for Mediation and the enormous growth opportunities it has to offer in the coming times.
Legal Bites: What suggestions do you offer for young law students who aspire to begin their career as a Mediator?
Ms. Smeeksha Pandey: The concept of private Mediation is still not very developed in our country. However the new Mediation Bill, 2021 do emphasize some important aspects such as compulsory pre-litigation mediation in civil and commercial disputes, the conduct of online mediation, an indicative list of matters which are not fit for mediation etc.
The Role of the Mediator is very restrictive in nature like just facilitating the process and bringing parties to a mutually agreeable resolution, without giving their personal opinions on any part of the disputes. However, every process has pros and cons and a genius should know where to stop, I have also come across many family matters which are referred to Mediation time and again at the District Court level, then High Court level and the matter still is not able to proceed towards settlement so we have to be mindful as to how we can benefit the most from this tool.
Legal Bites: This question is for young law students. What role do you think internships play in gaining legal acumen? And do you think there should be any prescribed number of internships one should pursue while still in college?
Ms. Smeeksha Pandey: I think internships play a vital role in understanding the working of the legal industry. No matter how many Courtrooms Drama you see like Suits, How to get away with murder and so on until you don’t enter the drama yourself and have a first-hand experience of it you won’t really know where and how to act.
Students should be open to all work experience and should try to understand the field by interning in various offices like startups, tier 1 firms, litigating offices, law ministry etc to know where they belong. Now there are two types of people in the world; one who is clear from day one and passionate about what they want and the other who want to experience all sectors and then decide what is best for them and both are the right types.
Legal Bites: Being a member of the prestigious Singapore International Arbitration Centre is itself a huge achievement. Could you please elaborate on what were the challenges and how did you overcome those?
Ms. Smeeksha Pandey: Attending various seminars, workshops and learning about other nations’ dispute resolution regimes and reflecting on our own’s. The hurdles which I faced initially was there is a lot of reading which one has to do in order to understand the local laws of different countries and how the system work in order to have a balanced interpretation and understanding.
Legal Bites: Could you please lucidly elaborate for our young lawyers and law students as to how one can be a member of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and what opportunities it brings along?
Ms. Smeeksha Pandey: It was in the year 2020 that the signing up forms link were there on LinkedIn and initially I just tried my luck by signing and got chosen as a member. It is a good exposure to International Dispute Resolution development and to do a detailed comparative study and develop a vision.
Legal Bites: Being a young achiever within a very short period of time and also being a woman in the legal field, how did you manage to reach this height and what are the challenges you came across in your path?
Ms. Smeeksha Pandey: I think it is too early to use the term like an achiever for me; it’s all about survival and what you do for this field and society makes you the same. So, I would say I have a long way to go and I am passionate about Mediation, feminist jurisprudence, period poverty etc and hope to contribute well to the field.
The field is still male dominant which is true but women are slowly and surely finding their niche and making their place and we are nothing less than proud of it. This field and profession need time it’s not a wonderland, you have to constantly thrive here, not all days you’ll be winning in fact winning days will be less and most days you will be just working but you have to wait to see your glory days and not give up.
Legal Bites: Lastly, how do you sum up your experience in the legal field? What are the pros and cons that worked for you?
Ms. Smeeksha Pandey: The experience till now has been amazing and I own it all as I am the first generation. This field is all about long term investment and I will suggest students to start investing in it in their college life in terms of moots, publications, internships.
Learning takes time. I am still learning myself. Always invest in the field well and success is a return on it.
The internships helped me a lot to understand the field and the passion to keep working. Success and failures are just a small part of the story when you have so much to learn and go ahead and contribute. Always keep evaluating your work that will help you to grow. Also, take that break and take your dream trip. Shine on!