"Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access"

Empowering underprivileged students through legal education.

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About us

The IDIA project was initiated to reach out to these marginalized and under-represented groups, sensitize them to law as a viable career option and help interested students acquire admission to these law schools. It is hoped that such access to legal education would go some way towards empowering the marginalized and underprivileged students and the communities that they represent.

Why law?

Legal education is just not about memorizing hundreds of legal maxims and cases. Rather, a good legal education enables the cultivation of personal autonomy, intellectual independence and the development of critical life skills beyond the traditional goals of teaching/training/learning of specific skills.

IDIA Research

The IDIA Project seeks to empower marginalised communities by fostering access to the leading law schools. Along with sensitisation and intensive training programs, IDIA will also attempt to drive policy in the area of “inclusive” legal education and “diversity” within law schools and the legal profession.

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Call for Applications – Disability Rights Fellow

IDAP is a key national vertical of IDIA that attempts to foster a more disability friendly ecosystem within the law schools and the legal profession. It was conceptualized to address the lack of consideration for differently-abled students in law schools and the profession with regard to the opportunities and infrastructure offered to these students. IDAP is looking to hire its first Disability Rights Fellow. The Fellow will be tasked with shaping the very future of IDAP.

Lessons from the Legal Rebel: Lainey Feingold on Structured Negotiation

Leading disability rights lawyer Lainey Feingold wanted to solve problems differently. Rather than the skeptical and distrusting demeanour she feels some American law schools still cultivate amongst their students, Lainey advocates for cooperation, patience, kindness, optimism, and equanimity in her legal practice. She believes that in nearly every field, people are yearning to solve problems without conflict.

Guest Lecture on Ambedkar Jayanti, 2018 – ‘Will the Dalits Survive?’

My name is Trilok Chand and I am proud to be an IDIA scholar. Recently, we organized a lecture on “Will the Dalit Survive?” to commemorate Ambedkar Jayanti 2018 at National Law University, Odisha (“NLUO”). The lecture was delivered by Dr. P.G. Jogdand, a renowned sociologist, and retired Dean – Faculty of Arts, University of Mumbai. Here is an account of this though-provoking event!!

IDAP Interview Series: Interview XV with Judge Ronald M. Gould

This IDAP interview features Judge Ronald M. Gould, who has served on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with distinction since his appointment by President Bill Clinton in 1999. Judge Gould, an alumnus of the University of Michigan Law School, was diagnosed with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis in 1990. While the impact of his disability was initially confined to facing occasional stumbles and numbness in other extremities, his disability has now progressed to a point where he uses a power wheelchair, has no hand mobility and is supported by caregivers around the clock.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview XIV with Tomer Rosner

Tomer Rosner, an Israeli civil servant, developed an optic nerve condition at the age of 13 which eventually led to complete blindness. As a legal advisor to the Parliament of Israel, Tomer’s position is one of great importance and responsibility. He directly advises three parliamentary committees including the committee on internal affairs. This has allowed him to make great contributions to the disability rights movement in Israel. He has played a fundamental role in the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by the Israeli Parliament and inclusion of the copyright exemption in their domestic law. An advocate by qualification, Tomer pursued a Master’s in Public Administration at the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School. In this interview, among other things, he discusses his experience of studying in a mainstream school and the role that the State played in providing adequate support to him during his formative years.

Formal Collaboration between Herbert Smith Freehills and IDIA

We are happy to announce a formal collaboration between Herbert Smith Freehills, a leading global law firm and IDIA. As part of Herbert Smith Freehills India Practice’s wider commitment to “give back” to India, the firm will provide financial, mentoring and pastoral support to a number of IDIA Scholars during the course of their legal education in various law colleges in India. In addition to assistance with fees and ancillary university expenses, Herbert Smith Freehills will also provide practical assistance through other means to the IDIA scholars which it will support, such as providing graduate recruitment support and internship opportunities, which can help the scholars in shaping their legal careers.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview XIII with David Shannon

as an author, activist, lawyer, policy-maker, human rights commissioner, accessibility advisory council founder, first quadriplegic to the North Pole (and accessible parking sign planter!) — and so much more. In recognition of his lifelong work, David was inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame, and granted some of the highest citizen honours – the Order of Ontario and Canada. In this interview, David shares that he believes there is a very thin line between people with disabilities, and those without; and that the solutions are often extremely simple. The biggest barriers are often attitudinal — the insidious, subtle lowered expectations of people with disabilities, and the resultant social exclusions. These ultimately lead to what David terms as ‘learned subordination’.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview XII with Judge David Szumowski

Judge David Szumowski. a war veteran, lost his eyesight at age 23 when shrapnel from a grenade hit his face during the Vietnam War. Instead of lamenting over this accident, Judge Szumowski displayed tremendous grit and perseverance to overcome the odds stacked against him.
After becoming blind, Judge Szumowski studied law and spent 12 years in the office of the District Attorney in trial advocacy. Thereafter, he was appointed to the Superior Court of San Diego County in California in the year 1998 and served on the court for 18 years until his retirement. In this interview, Judge Szumowski shatters the myth that a blind lawyer cannot successfully partake in a jury trial as he cannot see the faces of the jurors. While doing so, he provides detailed insights of how he discharged his functions effectively as an advocate and later on, as a judge on the criminal side. Judge Szumowski also shares with us many life lessons on overcoming adversity, in order to lead a meaningful and productive life.

Creative Destruction at it’s Best: The Death of Manual Scavenging?

IDIA had the opportunity to welcome Dr. Bezwada Wilson at its Annual Conference 2017, where he delivered a powerful keynote address on “Creative Leadership and Social Change”. He had rightly pointed out that with creativity and willingness, it is possible to eradicate manual scavenging with technological solutions. And now, Genrobotics, a Kerala based firm, has come up with ingenious solutions for this problem. Dr. Shamnad Basheer writes about this creative advancement that will change potentially the law and practice relating to manual scavenging.

Creative Fund Raising: Legal Luminaries Evolve Ingenious Ways to Support IDIA!

IDIA has always championed creativity in all of its myriad forms. In fact, the acronym for our training programme “CHAMPS” starts with “C” for Creativity—a value we seek to instill in all our scholars. We’re very fortunate in having some of the most creative minds serve on our advisory board. Two of them just helped us raise money in a rather creative way. Justice Prabha Sridevan, a celebrated former judge and a champion of equality and human rights, has been a long-standing IDIA supporter. But her talents are not...

Creating Inclusive Spaces in the Legal Industry

The Constitution of India speaks about equality. And yet we practice rampant inequality on the ground; excluding those that are less privileged than ourselves. Worse still, we do this within the legal ecosystem: one that is meant to safeguard constitutional values. “Honestly, it is unfortunate that there are 4-5 crore disabled persons in the country and there is very little in terms of infrastructure or in terms of resources allocated to them. I think the mindset is not really a very helpful mindset or where you feel it is...

Creating Inclusive Places : Empowerment Through Equality | Workshop and Training Program

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview XI with Yetnebersh Nigussie

This interview in the IDAP interview series features Yetnebersh Nigussie, an acclaimed disability rights activist and lawyer in Ethiopia. Her optimism and positive frame of mind is best epitomized by the fact that she has described the fact of losing her eyesight at the tender age of a five as an event which freed her from the potential clutches of child marriage. Born in an era in which the very fact of being a woman with a disability in a developing African country would have sounded the death knell for most, Yetnebersh’s indomitable spirit not only helped her pursue her education in a mainstream school but also to become a lawyer and social worker of great repute. After receiving her postgraduate education at the Addis Ababa University, Yetnebersh devoted herself to using the transformative power of her education to open doorways and create opportunities for millions of fellow Ethiopians with disabilities.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview X with Nirmita Narasimhan

Our next interview in this series features Nirmita Narasimhan, a Policy Director with the Centre for Internet and Society. Nirmita did her LL.B. from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University in 2002. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in German and a Ph.D. in Music. As a part of CIS she has done extensive work on web accessibility and was involved in drafting the Indian National Policy on Universal Electronic Accessibility. She has worked closely with different departments of the Government of India to bring accessibility into their policies and...

Walk the Talk

We’ve been shocked and saddened by the heinous assault on our IDIA student volunteers from WB NUJS. None of us expected that a court order (to prevent the eviction of slum dwellers in the Subhas Sarobar area) would be breached with this level of impunity. And that our students would be ravaged and mauled in this beastly a fashion. Their trauma will take a long time to heal. But we will pursue all avenues of justice, with due regard to the safety and security of our students. Read more.

IDIA Football League 2017 | IFL Night and Gala Dinner

IDIA announces IDIA Football League 2017, the fourth edition of its annual fundraising football tournament for law firms and corporate legal teams, scheduled to take place in Mumbai over 9th and 10th September 2017 at the Turf Park, Jio Garden, Bandra Kurla Complex. IFL is 6-a-side tournament, in which around 20 teams of 11 players will battle it out for winning the IFL Trophy and IFL Plate. This year, the IDIA Football League features a celebratory IFL Night and Gala Dinner on closing day of the tournament. To add to the excitement, we have...

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More Glad Tidings on IDIA Strikes | Message from Prof. Shamnad Basheer

We had recently announced wonderful news about IDIA trainees making it to top national law schools. Prof. Shamnad Basheer, Managing Trustee, IDIA Charitable Trust has an important message to share as more glad tidings keep pouring in!

IDAP Interview Series: Interview IX with Rajesh Asudani

In this IDAP interview, we interview Rajesh Asudani. Born into a family with four blind siblings and limited means, Asudani has displayed immense grit and determination throughout his life to beat the odds against him. Despite having an academic record par excellence in his law college and many awards and honors to his name, Asudani began his career as a railway announcer. Not one to lament, Asudani quickly turned the tide in his favour and secured a job of an Assistant General Manager at the RBI. Asudani speaks to us...

IDIA Scholars Strike Again!

As the sweltering sun summers on, straining the sturdiest of us, here is a piece of news that is sure to rejuvenate. As with earlier years, our IDIA trainees whip up an impressive CLAT strike rate! Out of the 50 students that we trained this year, 8 of them made the cut in the very first CLAT list. And one more made it to the NLU Delhi, which runs its own entrance exam (AILET). These scholars represent a wonderful diversity of talent, hailing from Pattan in Kashmir to Surpura Khurd,...

Nikita Shukla – A Story of True Grit and Determination!

“Nothing can dim the light which shines within” – Anonymous On this note, we are pleased to introduce to you the latest addition to the IDIA Family – a young, bright and highly inspiring girl! A visually impaired aspiring lawyer, her spirit and attitude towards life and the challenges it throws are worth emulating! It is in the rarest of rare circumstances that IDIA takes on a scholar mid-way through his/her journey through law school. However, a student as exceptional as her deserves all exceptions to be made for her! Nikita Shukla is a third-year law student at Government Law College, Mumbai and has seen her fair share of hurdles in life. Her parents wanted to marry her off right after she finished school. However, Nikita was adamant on pursuing further studies so as to become financially independent and fight her own battles! Sadly, her parents refused to support her decision and she was asked to leave the house. Its been three years since – in this period, she made her way to law school and has been performing exceedingly well! Unfortunately, her family continues to sever ties with her and and she has not had any contact with her parents and her siblings. Read on to know more …

In the Backdrop of a Heritage Site, IDIA Reaches Out to a Minority Institution | Sensitisation Stories

IDIA visits New Horizon School, an unaided minority institution in the backdrop of the Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi. The team had an exciting Sensitisation workshop, and conducted the aptitude test which garnered the interest of many students in law when none of them had considered law as a career option before. IDIA’s mission is to reach more and more communities to ensure greater availability of legal resources, and for a more diverse legal profession.

My Tryst with the First National Constitutional Law Olympiad | Scholars Achievements

We’re very happy to announce that Yamuna Menon, a 2nd year IDIA scholar at NLSIU, Bangalore, won the first National Constitutional Law Olympiad amongst great odds! She takes us through her exciting journey through this blog post, focusing on the types of challenges she faced and the arduous Constitutional Law exercises she went through to win this. Read on below!

Call for Applications – Fundraising Director

IDIA Charitable Trust is currently seeking applications for the position of ‘Fundraising Director’. We are looking for a committed, passionate and dynamic director to be a part of our small, focused team for taking IDIA to new heights.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview VIII with Senior Advocate SK Rungta

We began this interview series with the principal objective of curating insights from lawyers with disabilities who can serve as ‘waypavers’ and ‘pathmarkers’ for law students and young lawyers with disabilities, in India and beyond. It would be no exaggeration to state that few people fit that description better than our next interviewee, Senior Advocate Santosh Kumar Rungta. Blind since birth, SK Rungta has surmounted challenges most would consider insurmountable and has successfully defied, and continues to defy, what most would consider incredibly difficult odds. Senior Advocate Rungta’s accomplishments would be noteworthy even if he was merely a practicing lawyer – he was conferred with the prestigious senior advocate title by the Delhi High Court in 2011 – but what sets him apart is the fact that he has generously devoted his skills and energy to breaking down many barriers that have prevented the disabled from realizing their full potential.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview VII with David Lepofsky

Lepofsky, a highly distinguished Canadian lawyer who happens to be blind. Born in 1957, David graduated from the Osgoode Hall Law School with honours in 1979 and obtained a Masters of Law from the highly prestigious Harvard Law School in 1982. Thereafter, up to 2015, David practiced law with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General in such diverse areas of law as constitutional, administrative and criminal law.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview VI with Richard Chen

Richard is a highly accomplished counsel in the corporate and securities practice group at Arnold & Porter LLP. He received his B.A. with honors from Harvard College and he then went on to graduate from Harvard Law School in 1998. In this interview, Richard speaks to us, at length, about his corporate career spanning over 18 years and the challenges that he faced and overcame in college and at his workplace.

Call for Applications – Assistant/Associate Director, IDIA Charitable Trust

IDIA Charitable Trust is currently seeking applications for the position of ‘Assistant Director’ and ‘Associate Director’. We are looking for a committed, passionate and dynamic assistant director, and an associate director to be a part of our small, focused team for taking IDIA to new heights.

IDIA Comes to Goa: A Sun Salute to Salgaocar!

The 16th December 2016 turned out to be a memorable day in the annals of IDIA history. For on this day, we sowed the seeds for our newest IDIA chapter: “IDIA Goa” in the Salgaocar College of Law. So how did IDIA Goa come to pass? Therein lies a story of sheer persistence; and perhaps even a love for the sun, sea and sand.

IDIA is in the news for all the right reasons | Media Updates

From scholars making waves to the important year-round IDIA events. From sensitisations in Naxalite prone areas of Chattisgarh to a story of philantrophic ventures by members of the legal community. IDIA has been in the news for all the right reasons. Find out what they are.

IDIA Odisha chapter conducts sensitisations for diverse audience, and catches media attention – Sensitisation Stories

IDIA Chapter conducted 5 sensitisations for diverse audience ranging from housekeeping staff to school students. They traveled 30 kms for a sensitisation, and their activities caught the attention of Odisha Diary, Telegraph India, and Sambad (the largest circulated Odia daily in Odisha). NLUO, Cuttack students have many interesting things planned for this year.

IDIA – Look Back 2016

2016 was our biggest year yet. We want to thank everyone who made it possible. Here’s a look back at the year!

IDIA – Look Back 2016

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Arodhum selects first year law student Dharu Ram as Arodhum Scholar 2016

Arodhum awards scholarships to deserving rural students who demonstrate laudable strength or skill in a field, and show great potential to be agents of change. It has selected IDIA scholar, Dharu Ram as Arodhum Scholar 2016. Dharu, hails from a village in Rajasthan, and wants to fight for justice. Read his story and about Arodhum scholarship that provides opportunity and resources to bridge inequality.

Tribal children in remote parts of Chattisgarh are the key to transforming communities – Sensitisation Stories

IDIA members visited villages in interior of one of the most disturbed regions in India in Chattisgarh for conducting sensitisations. With the support of Indo-Tibetan Border Police that was conducting many civil action activities in the area, IDIA reached out to many children from tribal communities who demonstrated great potential. Abhay, IDIA team member, talks about his experiences during the trip, and the hope that children from tribal communities hold for transforming the area.

Nipman Foundation Promotes Equal Employment Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities

In spite of equal employment opportunities being promoted internationally, status of employment of persons with disabilities is dismal. Workplaces continue to be non-inclusive. There is a need to recognise and promote efforts fostering equal opportunities and inclusion in employment. One such effort is Equal Opportunities Awards by Nipman Foundation.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview V with Jack Chen

Our next interview in the IDAP interview series features Jack Chen, a highly accomplished patent attorney who works at Google in New York City.

Despite being completely blind for the last 25 years, Jack has scaled many peaks in his academic and professional life, having obtained degrees in computer science and law from Harvard University, UC Berkeley and Fordham University School of Law.

In addition to being an exceptional patent attorney, Jack has also competed in marathons and ironman triathlons. You can read more about his stellar achievements here.

We are particularly thrilled to be getting an opportunity to bring you this interview on the 3rd of December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. For it is our earnest belief that stories such as Jack’s are a testament to the fact that one’s dreams should not be handicapped by one’s disability; that having sight is not a prerequisite to having vision; and that, if provided appropriate support systems, there is no impediment too difficult to surmount for the disabled.

Not hereditary property; common property! – Justice Prabha Sridevan writes about IDIA

IDIA recently had the honour of Justice Prabha Sridevan writing about IDIA in a very popular Tamil daily – Dinamani. She talks about IDIA, our scholars, and opportunity to pursue education for all.

IDIA Kerala Chapter conducts a Street Play

On the 29th of October, 2016, 15 members of the IDIA Kerala Chapter conducted a street play at Marine Drive, Kochi. The first street play by the IDIA Kerala Chapter proved to be a fun and rewarding experience. The day began with an hour long journey by the team in a bus from NUALS, Kochi to Marine Drive, starting at 2 p.m. from NUALS. On reaching the venue, we started scouting the area to find the best place for maximum impact – a task of no small importance for a successful street play. We shared the joy felt by colonial explorers when we discovered moving crowds at the pathway adjacent to the backwaters. Having found our audience, we started setting the stage with our modest prop – a flex with the chapter’s logo and information. With the preparations over, we began the street play.

Call for applications: Executive Vice President

IDIA (Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education) is looking for a visionary and creative Executive Vice President to lead its operations and take it to the next phase of growth. If you are that person, please apply immediately.

IDIA Stories Booklet

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IDIA Football League 2016 and Fundraising Dinner

Welcome to the Third Edition of IDIA Football League (IFL 2016) and the IDIA Awards Ceremony and Fundraising Dinner 2016 About the IDIA Football League Conceptualised in 2014 for football’s popularity amongst legal professionals as also sport’s ability to nurture diversity by being open to all classes of society, the IDIA Football League (IFL) is IDIA’s annual fundraising tournament. The funds raised from the IFL go towards the education of the brilliant and deserving scholars that IDIA supports across premier law schools in India. The 3rd edition of the IFL...

IDAP Interview Series: Interview IV with Haben Girma

The fourth interview in the IDAP interview series features Haben Girma, the first deafblind student to graduate from the prestigious Harvard Law School. Haben has been recognized as a White House “Champion of Change” by the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. She has also been recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 leader, and a BBC Women of Africa Hero. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Skadden Fellowship instituted by the Skadden Foundation. Haben had the singular honour of introducing President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015 and has also received recognition from former American President Bill Clinton.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview III with Shweta Bansal

The third interview in the IDAP interview series features Shweta Bansal, an accomplished lawyer at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, whose appointment to the Indian Foreign Service was recently cleared by the Delhi High Court.

Shweta, who sustained a spinal injury in a car accident when she was 6 which left her orthopedically disabled, pursued her schooling at the prestigious La Martiniere school in Lucknow. She graduated from the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences in 2007 and secured a job at the erstwhile firm of Amarchand Mangaldas and Suresh A. Shroff & Co.

IDIA Mumbai Starts the Sensitisation Season with a Novel Approach to Sensitisations

Keeping up with its efforts to sensitise students about law as a career, the IDIA Mumbai chapter started its sensitisations for the present academic year with two back-to-back sensitisations. The first sensitisation was conducted at the Hume High School, Mumbai on 24th August 2016, and the second at the Chandrabhan Sharma College, Powai on 27th August 2016.

Starting a new culture, the IDIA team was accompanied by professionals from the legal field, who could share their experiences of law school, and law as a career with the school students. Ms. Khushnaaz, Mr. Sanjeev and Ms. Asmita Roy from the legal team of Mahindra & Mahindra, and Ms. Aditi Rani from Advaya Legal joined the student volunteers from IDIA Mumbai chapter for the sensitisations.

Five Team Leaders Selected for SAGAR – IDIA FELLOWSHIP 2016

IDIA family extends heartiest congratulations to the following five team leaders, who have been selected for the prestigious Sagar-IDIA Fellowship 2016 for their outstanding leadership in 2015. The Sagar-IDIA Fellowship has been instituted by Mr. Jyoti Sagar, a leading lawyer and educationist who founded J. Sagar Associates. It is awarded to Team Leaders and Deputy Team Leaders who lead the various state chapters and national verticals at IDIA and demonstrate outstanding leadership and passion.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview II with Judge David S Tatel

The second interview for the IDIA Disability Access Programme (IDAP) Interview Series is with the distinguished Judge David S Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, often referred to as the second most important court in the United States of America. Judge Tatel was nominated to the bench in 1994 by President Clinton, to a seat vacated by Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

IDAP Interview Series: Interview I with Justice Zak Mohammed Yacoob

The IDIA Disability Access Programme (IDAP) was launched in January this year. As part of the programme, we’ve initiated a series of interviews with leading legal luminaries who are disabled (including lawyers, law professors and judges). The first interview in this series is with Justice Zak Mohammed Yacoob, a legendary judge, social activist and educator who served as a judge on the South African Constitutional Court for 15 years. He was appointed to the bench in 1998 by Nelson Mandela. Justice Yacoob became blind at 16 months because of meningitis.

A Huge Victory for Diversity

Diversity scored a big victory when the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the University of Texas’ race-based affirmative action plan for its undergraduate admission! The landmark decision in Fisher v. University of Texas case came as a welcome surprise to the champions of diversity.