Academics, Researchers & International Organisations

Garima Tiwari on pursuing masters from UNICRI, doctorate from Univ of Camerino and legal research

garima-tiwari-2Garima Tiwari is an exceptionally meritorious student of 2009 batch of NLIU, Bhopal. After working at National Judicial Academy, Bhopal for two year, her interest in International Crime and Justice led her to pursue Masters from United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute in collaboration with University of Torino, Italy. She has been awarded the Justice Makers Fellowship by International Bridges to Justice, Geneva for project on awareness of HIV/AIDS amongst the criminal justice system as also legal aid for the under-trials. She has a number of publication and has authored various books. Currently, she is a Doctoral candidate at University of Camerino.

In this interview, she talks about:

  • Course structure of Masters at UN Research Institute
  • Key ingredients of Statement of Purpose
  • Authoring books and publications
  • The best ways to do Legal Research

 

Given that most of our readers are law students and young lawyers, how will you introduce yourself to them?

I would first like to congratulate the whole team of SuperLawyer for concretising this innovative and stimulating idea of ‘inspiration dissemination’. I graduated from National Law Institute University, Bhopal in 2009. I worked at the National Judicial Academy, Bhopal as Law Associate (Faculty) for 2 years. I have a Masters in International Crime and Justice from United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute in collaboration with University of Torino, Italy. In 2012, I was awarded the JusticeMakers Fellowship by International Bridges to Justice, Geneva for my project on awareness of HIV/AIDS amongst the criminal justice system as also legal aid for the undertrials.  Currently I am pursuing my Doctorate at the University of Camerino, Italy alongside my work as a Researcher in comparative law with Lexidale-International Policy Consulting, Cambridge MA. I am also co-founder and author at A Contrario ICL- an international think tank devoted to research and writings on International Criminal Law and senior editor with The Lex Warrier.

 

How did you gravitate towards Law? Tell us about your college life at Bhopal. What all activities did you partake in?

I remember reading the achievements of few of my seniors in the newspapers. Law always fascinated me, and when my father brought in the brochures of the law schools, I was all ready to get in. In 2004, there was no CLAT and all universities conducted their separate exams; I cleared the entrance and there I was at National Law Institute University, Bhopal. I concentrated more on my academics. When I joined law school, it was all about getting a corporate law job. I wouldn’t deny that I tried to fit in, but somehow I wavered from that path. I loved research and writing and I guess I made good use of the crazy amount of projects we were supposed to write. I could publish a lot of them subsequently. I was a part of the environment law cell and we conducted various activities including mock parliament, slum drives, awareness camps etc. I wasn’t into moot courts, was not my thing. I enjoyed my college life thoroughly, and it makes me nostalgic thinking that it’s been almost 10 years when I first stepped in there.

 

What were your areas of interest during your graduation? How did you go about developing expertise and knowledge in these areas?

I loved international law, comparative law and human rights. Internships for me were testing the water for what I wanted to do ahead. I interned in NGOs, Human Rights Commission, law firms and with lawyers.  During one of internships, I developed interest in international trade law and I decided to work further on it. In my fourth year itself, I started research and drafting work for an advocate practising in international trade law and on graduation, I went ahead and joined his law office, before joining NJA. My advice would be to use internships to understand what you like, and not as something to fret over. As for my interest in Public International Law, I knew I would someday do a specialisation in it and so I kept myself updated with its readings.

 

You were one of the most exceptional students at NLIU. You bagged a silver medal during your B.A.LL.B. Please give us a few actionable tips on managing higher grades.

Thank you for your kind words. For me nothing has replaced hard-work ever. It definitely helps to attend lectures but always make a point to read beyond them. That way, you develop an understanding for the subject that is not just exam oriented. It is easy to score high, if you are not stressed about it. Be regular in your studies. Don’t leave for later what you can finish today. Time management is a skill which one needs to develop gradually. Frankly, there is so much time that if one is disciplined and focussed, it is easy to manage academics, and extra-curricular.

 

What made you pursue your LL.M from United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute after pursuing LL.M. in IPR from IGNOU?

I did MIPL from IGNOU when I was working at NJA.  MIPL is not an LL.M. It is specialised master programme for 2 years. After two years of work at NJA, I wanted to further my academic profile, and I decided to get an LL.M. Gaining insight into Indian judicial system at NJA, I was very much interested in studying international organisations and implications of international dynamics on the domestic legal system. Masters from UNICRI was an apt course for this. Located in beautiful Italy, there was nothing better than combining my interest for studies and travel.

 

Tell us about the course structure and specialization of Master of Laws at UN Research Institute?

UNITO/UNICRI LL.M was a wonderful experience and it introduced me to international criminal law, international organisations and international humanitarian law The LL.M is set at the United Nations Campus in Torino Italy. It is highly specialised and tightly scheduled programme of 3 months online phase and 6 months on-campus phase. The classes started at 8/9 in morning and continued till 6 in the evening. We were a batch of 42 people from 28 countries. The programme is a perfect combination of theory and practice. We were exposed to various exercises – mock trials, moot court, seminars, prison visits, practical exercises with the Italian Army, defence seminars and witness psychology classes. The moot court itself involved participation is an army camp where we enacted half of the problem of the moot court. It was an amazing learning experience, which worked on group dynamics. The faculty was very experienced and included lawyers and judges from international courts and tribunals. It was one of the best decisions I took, as it exposed me to the international and varied nature of law; of multiple career opportunities and a chance to travel the world.

 

What is the key ingredient of a well written SOP? Can you make it personal? Any tip to those making their SOPs? What might be the one mistake that the majority make?

Incorporate your strong points. While many other applicants will have similar traits, your SOP should be written in such way that these points make you stand out.

Show that you are different from the lot, but do not go overboard in doing so.

Highlight the reasons for going back to academics after your work. Stress on how your work profile, makes you a better candidate. Be articulate yet precise.

Exaggeration is a common mistake. After working with many professors and selection committees, I can definitely say that use of complex language and bragging, generally puts the committee off. Do not forget it is a formal statement, and as a law student you are supposed to have some drafting skills. Though one needs to make it personal, but it cannot be an informal statement showing your desperation to join the course. You may ask colleagues and professors, to read and see what they make of it. It should not read a negative trait for you.

 

Do you think that having your recommendation letters written from distant acquaintances with influential position may backfire against you while making your application? What is the proper thing to do instead?

Definitely, one should use recommendation letters only from people who know you academically and professionally. Universities, may make a call to the person recommending and discuss about you. A distant acquaintance, might be left without clear answers on such occasions.  This also holds true, when the universities directly contact the referee with online forms. Therefore, it is always advisable to take recommendation from professors or employers you trust and who would be able to speak accurately on your profile.

 

You have publications in various renowned journals. How should one go about writing papers and getting the same published?  How do you identify and decide on a topic or area of law to write on? What is the process like?

Selection of the topic depends on the medium you are going to publish, the audience and definitely, based on your interest. If you are writing for a blog, I would suggest write posts on current issues of your liking. That not only gives readers a chance to understand different views, but would also help you to develop critical understanding. Unlike blog, for journals and authoring a book, deadlines are important. For writing articles in different journals, you have to carefully follow the guidelines provided by the journals regarding the word count, formatting, referencing and language. They may accept your paper in the first go, or may send it back for editing, it is all a part of bringing out quality work and so patience and an open attitude to criticism is the key.

For books, there are in general two situations. If you already have a manuscript which you would like to get published-you have to write to the publishers, have discussions and come to a common ground. The other situation is when the publisher approaches you with a project, in which case, you have to decide whether you are comfortable working on the format and idea. Usually, you submit a sample chapter, before proceeding. Once that is accepted, there is an agreement outlining all the copyright and payment issues, and you are all set to go.

 

garima-tiwari-4You have published 6 books also. Tell us about the whole process. How did it all start? Please give us the highlights of your best work. When did you start writing your first book? How much time did it take?

I read on Facebook that LexisNexis India was looking for academic writers, and I applied. After discussions with them, I started working on the Quick Reference Guide on Jurisprudence I and subsequently Jurisprudence II. QRGs are quick referencer cum revision books mapped to syllabus of all law universities, focussing on quick conceptual clarity. It contains notes, case materials and important questions.  This was very challenging as for my first book itself, I was writing on jurisprudence which students find really difficult. So I concentrated on simplifying the subject yet still not losing the essence and details. Soon after, I was contacted for an innovative project by LexisNexis, to work on Understanding Law Series which is a series of books aimed to make different laws accessible and understandable to people interested in studying law, lawyers and common man. Essentially it aims at legal awareness. I worked on four titles under this series – 1. Understanding Laws –A Legal Quotient Primer 2. Understanding Laws: Contracts 3. Understanding Laws: Consumer Rights 4. Understanding laws: Cyber Laws and cyber crimes.

I wrote all the 6 books in the 2013-2014 and it has been a very enriching journey.

 

How did publishing affect your legal career? Apart from academia, does it help one to secure jobs at all?

Research is highly respected in many countries and I am glad, that slowly India is also moving towards accepting legal research as a possible career option. Publishing articles, writing blogs and authoring books, all has definitely helped me in obtaining more work. Apart from the academic benefit it offers, publications have helped me to gain independent research projects with various organisations and companies. For jobs in legal research, you need to show you can write on varied subjects with precision .There is immense opportunity to travel and be part of amazing discourses. Good research pays really well, unlike what is normally understood. It was because of my publications during university and internships that I secured the position of senior researcher with Lexidale-International Policy Consulting Cambridge, MA. So, yes, publishing does help secure jobs.

 

Presently, you are a Senior-editor at The Lex Warrier. What are the top three things you consider as sine qua non for a great research work?

Knowledge on the subject you are researching. You should know where to look for the right and authentic material. Research is not cut-copy-paste.

Good command over language-this requires a lot of reading. A good researcher is not just born overnight. Be ready with your diligence and patience.

Carelessness in research shows in the product. One should be very precise and write only what is essential. Be honest and avoid plagiarism.

 

garima-tiwari-3

At present, you are a Doctoral Candidate at University of Camerino? What is your motivation behind doing so much study? What made you to pursue Ph.D.?

Yes, currently I am in the second year of my doctoral research at the University of Camerino, Italy with full fellowship. With the same objective of understanding the impact of international law on domestic jurisdictions, that I pursued my masters, I am carrying out my doctoral research. My research deals with understanding legal imperialism and cultural relativism, from the perspective of countries like India in the era of international law. Ph.D will help me to specialise further in the area of knowledge. I believe the fact that I made career out of what I love to do, essentially motivates to me to study.

 

What are your long-term goals? What do you plan to accomplish in the coming five years?

I would probably be writing, teaching, researching and travelling to new places. I am already working on many research projects, so maybe I will start my own research venture and A Contrario is also shaping up well.

 

Lastly, what would be your message to law students interested in going for higher studies from India?

I say- go for it. LL.M from abroad will open up many new ideas and expose you to different career options which you might not be considering now. You will learn about other cultures which will broaden your thinking process. It does not matter in the long run, where you studied from, what matters is the quality and dedication in your work. Do what you love, dream big, and work hard towards it. Goodluck and have fun!

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