IDAP Interview Series
The IDAP Interview Series is a first-of-its-kind initiative of interviewing lawyers with disabilities in all spheres of the legal profession (teaching, advocacy, litigation, corporate, etc.). It aims to solicit actionable insights from lawyers with disabilities on the strategies adopted by them to excel in their field. If you have any comments/feedback on our series or if you would like us to interview a lawyer, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Our next interview in the IDAP interview series features Yetnebersh Nigussie, an acclaimed disability rights activist and lawyer in Ethiopia. Her optimism and positive frame of
In this IDAP interview, we interview Judge David Szumowski. A war veteran, Judge Szumowski lost his eyesight at age 23 when shrapnel from a grenade