Why did you choose to attend the University of South Carolina School of Law?
I choose USC Law because SC felt like home. At the time my upbringing moved me around a lot. After undergrad, the friends I made and the City of Columbia felt the closest to home I ever felt. One of the biggest things about staying in SC and attending law school was challenging myself to thrive and experience circumstances that challenged me to grow as a person. As one of the only 2 Indian students in the school, and the only one in my class, many of the lessons I learned there were about people. I needed a law school that felt familiar and comfortable but would challenge my appropriate ways. At the time USC Law was that for me.
Where has your job taken you?
Since law school, my career has taken me to politics and private equity. From NC to Detroit to finally settling down for over a decade in Washington, DC. I spent nearly 10 years working for the Department of Justice on various policy issues. These included policing, policing on tribal lands and managing relationships with sovereign Native American communities. Eventually, I took over the work of the Department that involved securing individual 6th Amendment rights and making sure that states not only understood their obligations but helped them to meet these requirements. Finally, the investigation in Ferguson, MO led me to oversee the Department's work on fines and fees, which lead me to join my current organization where I support states & local governments along with communities and advocates around the country in achieving these goals.
You do not have to have it figured out when you leave law school. Your first job will not be your last job, so experiment when you have the most flexibility and opportunity to do so.
What is the most valuable information you learned while you were in law school?
How to work with different people. I was an outsider in many ways coming to SC. The lessons I learned about people, and how to understand them, and navigate complicated areas are some of my most valuable skills now. While much can be attributed to my overall life experience, the years I spent in SC and specifically in law school, shaped me in ways that will always be with me.
What event or professional experience has given you the most satisfaction?
My current role has given me the most satisfaction and joy. It combines all of what I have learned to this point into a single role with an organization that does meaningful work and helps make changes that impact people's lives. Spending the first part of my career experimenting with non traditional "lawyer" roles was a key factor in how I got to this place. Law school prepares you to go to a law firm or prosecute or defend clients. It does not consider the variety of careers a person may have where the law is at the foundation, but how it is used is not in a courtroom or through document review.
What information would you give a graduating class member seeking your advice on a legal career?
You do not have to have it figured out when you leave law school. Your first job will not be your last job, so experiment when you have the most flexibility and opportunity to do so. Learn what matters to you, which sometimes comes from first learning what doesn't matter to you. Law school prepares you to think. How you choose to use that thinking doesn't have to be at law firm or in a traditional legal career. Law school does not consider the variety of careers a person may have where the law is at the foundation. If you aren't satisfied or challenged or fulfilled and it bothers you, try something new. You might take several losses before you get your win, but then your win will actually be satisfying.
What do you do for fun?
I love to workout and learn new ways to live a healthy lifestyle. I love to travel and spend time with people I love. Most of my "spare" time is spent with my 2 little children and my husband exploring all Washington, DC has to offer.