Exclusive Interview With Advocate Utkarsha Nikam, Associate Kanga & Co.
Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Utkarsha Nikam is a strong professional who graduated from Government Law College, Mumbai in 2019. She is an Associate with Kanga & Company where she works in the Real Estate Team. She mentors several student-run organisations in her capacity as an Advisor and editor. Utkarsha is the co-founder of the blog titled Indian Real Estate Blawg (IRB). Additionally, she has also authored several articles in reputed journals and blogs. While at GLC, she served as the General Secretary of the Legal Aid Committee and was an avid mooter.
1. How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m a lawyer by profession with an infectious smile who loves to work and has developed a deep domain in relation to transactional documentation and title due diligence. I would like to introduce myself as a person who believes that hard work pays off and setting goals early in life enhances the possibilities of huge success in adulthood. For as long as I have known, I have always strived for excellence through hard work, perseverance, and dedication.
2. Tell us a little about why you decided to pursue law. Has this always been your career plan?
I am the first person in my family to go to law school. As someone having no family background in the field of law, I was unsure of the opportunities I would come across when I decided to pursue law. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was young, but didn’t realize how much I would love being a lawyer until the day I became one. Presently, the days are long and exhausting, but I could not be happier doing what I love.
3. Please tell us your 5-year journey in Government Law College, Mumbai.
My desire to gain in-depth knowledge of the law resulted in me making the life-altering move to Mumbai, where I joined the esteemed Government Law College (GLC), post my High School studies. There was a paradigm shift in my thought process and the way I saw and perceived things before and after I joined GLC. It makes you think, question, and rationalise. As a student, it was an exciting journey of learning and nurturing my skills in research, writing, oratory skills, rationalising, and analysing the law. I was always an active participant in all the legal as well as other academic events that took place at GLC and not to forget, good in studies too.
4. During your time at Government Law College, Mumbai, what extracurricular and co-curricular activities, did you participate in?
One of the most satisfying experiences in life is succeeding in a competitive environment and proving yourself competent to overcome any challenge which comes your way.
Being recognized as a person with good leadership qualities, I have distinguished myself by participating in prestigious Moot Court Competitions, MUNs, Lok Sabha’s, etc.
On top of my impressive Academic excellence, I have been awarded a Certificate of Excellence in Sports by Government Law College, Mumbai for representing and winning competitions in Volleyball as well as for representing on various platforms including the National Sports Authority of India for Football.
My willingness to contribute in the society made me participate actively in street plays for spreading awareness on social issues like Domestic Violence, Women Empowerment, Right to safety, etc. in slum areas/ BMC schools wherein I received an outstanding opportunity to volunteer for an NGO, Each One Teach One’s Village Awareness Campaign in the academic year 2016- 2017.
5. How do you think the extracurricular activities affected your take away from law school?
There is a lot of trial and error and a number of new experiences. Being part of the Legal Aid Committee has really enhanced the manner in which I work. I have learned to be part of a functioning team and have learned to manage and lead projects and efforts, which includes taking the responsibility of getting the job done, taking the blame for any drawbacks, and even facing the backlash from my peers as well as the administration. But, I have definitely come out of it for the better.
I learned how to talk to strangers and make a conversation, ask for something, promise performance in return, communicate issues, manage crisis situations, how to balance my time, monitor my stress, and most importantly, how to persevere.
6. Your experience as the General Secretary of the Legal Aid Committee of GLC.
The leadership and organisational skills in me became apparent when I was selected as the General Secretary of Legal Aid Committee at Government Law College, Mumbai. On the personal front, I am a person who is extremely hard working and determined to the core. I am much more comfortable being a part of a team that requires me to fulfil my role efficiently as well as managing myself at the helm of responsibility.
Teamwork is my forte as evident from my successful project works. This success infused in me the confidence to take on major challenges in the future by strengthening my project management skills. Apart from learning how to function within a team, being a part of a committee taught me a number of human relations skills that just can’t be taught. Even while at a very small scale, these experiences really aid in one’s development in a professional working environment.
7. Tell us something about your initiative – Indian Real Estate Blawg? What inspired you to start this initiative.
“At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” ― Denzel Washington
Realising the dearth of content relating to real estate laws, and the irrational fear in minds of young lawyers and law students towards the real estate practice, I have co-founded the Indian Real Estate Blawg (IRB) to demystify real estate law for such young lawyers and law students. IRB has helped hundreds of students and young professionals to understand the basics of real estate laws not only through articles but also through a series of interactive live sessions. I truly believe in giving back to the students in every little way possible.
8. When and how did you decide to pursue masters? Was it a professional requirement or an endeavour out of academic interests?
I believe an LLM abroad completely changes your perception of studies and is a matter of personal choice depending upon a multitude of factors. The ambition to explore the infinite knowledge in law and give an edge to my practical learning is driving me to pursue a higher degree program. A Master’s Degree such as an LL.M. does not usually aim to enhance legal professional skills but provides an in-depth perspective in the chosen subject as well as a chance to study a wider scope of application of such topics.
9. What is your key tip to write a fantastic Statement of Purpose?
Statement of Purpose plays a very important part in your application and in fact, it can be called “the heart” of your application submission. SOP remains the most important element of the admissions process. The key point is, it is your chance to explain to the admission committee why you are going for higher education and what is your main purpose. Many people cut copy paste which I would not recommend. Read as many SOPs as you can but at the end of the day, it should reflect you as a person on academic as well as professional front highlighting your strengths.
10. What would be your message to our readers?
My senior passed on an important piece of advice: READ!! As Benjamin Franklin once said:
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”.
This is the best time of your life, I strongly suggest everyone challenge, expose yourself on personal and professional fronts. The only chances that you are going to regret are the ones that you did not take. So shoot your shot!