Entrepreneur & Alternative careerists

Upasana Singh Chaturvedi, Founder & CEO at Accords International, Arbitrator and Mediator In Conversation with SuperLawyer on Unconventional Careers in Law

This interview has been published by Prabhjot Singh, Priyanka Karwa and The SuperLawyer Team

We ask this question to almost everyone, but ma’am looking at your experiences, I would like to flip it a little bit, how did law choose you?

I come from a family of lawyers, judges, and professors. I think ‘law’ chose me before I was even born. From an early age, I used to sit with my grandfather and used to observe the trials he used to preside over. Also, during my studies in history in my undergraduate course, I realized how a society’s nature is modeled and governed by the legal system that it has. This realization got me interested in exploring law as a professional carrier for myself. The campus law Center, university of Delhi helped me understand law and brush up on my legal and oratory skills.

What were the struggles you faced in the beginning?

By ‘beginning’ I believe you mean the beginning of my legal career. I think the biggest struggle is coping with the rigorous work routine and keeping on doing what you like the most. I was always passionate about teaching, so along with my practice, I kept on teaching at Delhi University, IP University, Bennet University, and Sewa Samarpan Samiti, which is an NGO based in India. I think this helped me pursue my dream with passion.  

Firstly, a big congratulations on starting “Accords International”. Do you mind sharing some obstacles that might come in the way of being a founder at any firm?

You know I have started to believe in what Elon Musk once said, “starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss”. It is a difficult task to build a company, run it, and earn profits with it. My biggest challenge was to find like-minded people to work with and constitute a team that creates a conducive environment. I have been fortunate to finally find an amazing group of team members. I am liking every bit of it. No doubt you are wearing a crown of thorns, but you are your own boss. Accords International works in mediation and restorative justice. Both these fields are new to India and clients and colleagues are still learning. We provide mediation and restorative services and training regularly.

When we talk about disputes, most of the time obviously the parties commit the same number of mistakes, and both suffer as well, before even going for conflict resolution, don’t you think there is something out before that? 

In the event of a disagreement, it is often that the situation escalates to a conflict and then the parties take the matter to the court as a dispute. If the lawyers and other professionals who advise the parties during the initial stages have a non-adversarial mindset, then disputes can be avoided, and disagreements can be amicably settled at very early stages. This is beneficial for all, the clients, the lawyers, the courts, and the society.

As someone who has also specialized in cybercrimes, bullying, etc, what are the core reasons that these things happen and any unconventional ways to stop the harm?

Dan Olweus defines simple bullying as ‘unwanted aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power. Most often it is repeated over time.  If this is done via an electronic device, then that makes sit cyber-bullying.

The four Elements of Bullying are- Aggressive Behavior, Power Imbalance, Repeated act, and the players (Perpetrator and victim). If we add a computer, cell phone, and any other electronic device to traditional bullying that will make it cyberbullying.

The common types of cyberbullying and their reasons are:

  1. Exclusion- Publicly Ostracizing the target from the online world- Possible reason is to make the target vulnerable and lonely.
    1. Flaming- posting personal insults and vulgar texts- possible reasons are power play and intent to humiliate the target.
    2. Impersonation- pretending to be someone else. – possible reason can be entertainment or fraud
    3. Cyberstalking- using the internet and technology to follow someone- (harassment, stalking, revenge, fascination, show-off)
    4. Trolling- to deliberately provoke others- (attention seeking, revenge, boredom, personal amusement, paid by someone else)

Accords International is working on a model for dealing with cyberbullying and online harm with the help of restorative justice. Teachers, parents, and school management can use restorative practices like regular restorative circles and non-violent communications to de-escalate conflicts at early stages.

What are the necessary skills to have as a “Trained Mediator”?

As a mediator, one learns

 To facilitate a conversation between two disputing parties.

To be objective,

To be impartial,

To be an effective communicator,

To feel empathetic, patient, adaptable,

To be trustworthy,

To understand the psychology of conflict,

To be able to distinguish interests and needs and

To become a better negotiator.

“Unconventional careers in law will spoil your degree”, why has this misconception led many people far away from the legal industry revolution and how to excel oneself to reach heights?

I think this advice worked in the previous century. Today, we live in a world where lawyers are working in tech policy, AI, cyberspace, Outer space, public policy, sustainability, diplomacy, and many other ‘unconventional’ fields. I think law teachers and colleges should update their curriculum on a regular basis and students should not only be exposed to court proceedings but also to the newer developments around the world. Accords International is working with the vision to make such experiences available to Indian students.

 Lastly Upasana, any advice to level up the skill game in this profession?

I find reading is very important for lawyers to always keep updated and informed. Also, skill-building courses in mediation, drafting, negotiation, tech policy, etc are important to learn about new fields. Accords International has launched its next mediation training for the months of January-February 2023. Training programs like this keep young professionals updated and connected.

Get in touch with Upasana Singh Chaturvedi-

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