Expert Insight


Women, Law and Success, three words that sound paradoxical when used in one sentence for the Eastern Cultures. It has been a revolutionary struggle for women to make a mark and be seen as economy drivers in various fields. Representation of women in law has been especially challenging. Breaking this stereotype is Rishika Arora, 30, a young and dynamic advocate from India. She is overcoming barriers of gender and race bit by bit and thriving to be in the top spot of the International Legal Fraternity.

Her CV reads like an Edgar Allen Poe’s most enchanting poem. Her journey excels from words to work and thoughts to actions. She is a litigating lawyer at the Delhi High Court, India. A philanthropist, a mentor and a teacher. She is also the pioneer member of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association as their Young Lawyers Representative of the Australasian Region. She had her first tryst with advocacy and empowerment at the age of 17. When in high school, she worked closely on the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports project on ‘Adolescents’ well-being and related issues. That set the course of her career. “I was driven to make a change in the society, to be the voice of the weak and the underprivileged, and create social awareness amongst the masses” she says.

With the aim to empower the weak and the marginalized, this young lady enrolled herself for a bachelor’s degree in law at the prestigious Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi, India. Alongside she joined Women’s Political Watch (WPW), an NGO committed to the cause of women empowerment and creating awareness about legal and voter rights. In the capacity of an advisor and trainer she sensitized women dwelling in the slums on their legal rights. She also   conducted several sessions for the trainers and undertook voter awareness sessions.                                                             

Rishika tasted her first slice of the legal fraternity while working as a law researcher under Hon’ble Ms. Justice Indermeet Kaur at the judicature of Delhi High Court, India. In her words, “Justice Indermeet Kaur was nothing short of being a superwoman. I strive to be as professional, strong and resilient as she is. I am in awe of the Iron Lady that she is and idolize her.”

To establish herself as an International Lawyer, the young enterprising advocate went for Masters in Law to the esteemed Columbia Law School, New York, U.S.A. While there, she worked with the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA), a non-profit organization that provides legal aid for low income New York artists. Excited to have learnt new skills and having gained a multi-cultural perspective, she surged into her legal career back in India with much passion and commitment. “I was really excited to come back to India and start work on my dream project of providing legal aid to the lower income groups and thereby empowering them to strive for a better life. It took me a couple of years to finally shape up and launch ‘The Legal Cell’ with fellow lawyers. As one of the founders, it gives me immense joy and satisfaction to share that in its nascent stage, The Legal Cell has been able to create a substantial impact in the society. It is working very closely with organizations like the Rotary International, Laadli Foundation, Women’s Political Watch, The Earth Saviours Foundation and Policy Foundation to name a few. We have the ambition to extend our services pan India with a pool of capable advocates and allied professionals” is her passionate reflection.

As the youngest Chairperson Legal of the Rotary International Organization (RCDS), she is humbled by her own experience and thanks her family for standing by her like a rock and giving her the courage to achieve and overcome all odds. She reflects on the difficulties and challenges faced by her as being a part of the litigation system “I take courage and inspiration from my boss Advocate Mr. Pawanjit Singh Bindra who has placed immense faith in me and pushed me beyond my limits to achieve and excel. He has been extremely supportive of my philanthropic pursuits. I look up to him and his counsel. Whenever I am in doubt or feeling under confident, he would say reassuringly to go fight and leave my fears to the wind. I have been able to carve my independent identity under his able supervision and guidance.”

“Legal fraternity in India has been largely male dominant. It is progressive thinking men such as Mr. Pawanjit Singh Bindra that encourage young women lawyers like me and give them opportunities to grow and flourish. It has been a struggle for Indian women to enter into litigation and to battle it out with gut and glory. I feel lucky to be a part of the first generation women lawyers in litigation to reap the fruits of the predecessors’ achievements.” There has been a huge influx of women in litigation in the recent times, some women have also contested in the Bar Council elections. Indian women lawyers have made a mark for themselves in the legal fraternity at the national and international level.

Although we still have a long road to travel before we can have an equal and just representation of women advocates in litigation” says Rishika recollecting that many of her peers dropped out of litigation and pursued other courses of law owing to several barriers faced by them. There seems to be a glass ceiling in the legal fraternity for women in terms of pay disparity and gender discrimination. It can be demotivating and heartbreaking for a professional, especially when one has just started the course of their career. However, it is important to keep your head in the game and bounce back with resilience and twice the strength.

I think we need to educate and empower our girls and give them the power to chart their own journey. Education has changed the Indian legal scape with more and more women opting for law as their chosen profession. We need to form groups of women lawyers who help, support, motivate and inspire each other. Gone are the days when a marginalized group would carry out protests and demonstrations to ask for their rights. The key is to be strong and determined in our pursuit. We cannot and should not let a few bad experiences deter us from our path. One should take each day as a new beginning and every challenge as an opportunity in disguise” sums up the resolute lawyer. Such spirited words have the power to move boulders and women in law are all set to play this monumental role.

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