Friday, December 9, 2022

LLM in ADR student Sharvani Navangul has always had a passion for law, drawn to areas of legal aid that offer actionable solutions that mend relationships. In this Q&A, learn why she chose USC Gould School of Law’s dispute resolution program and what she has planned for her future in law.

Sharvani Navangul, LLM in ADR 2023

What sparked your interest in learning about the law?
In the second grade, I adjudicated a dispute as a judge for the “best fruit” at the annual day play. Donning legal attire, I declared to my parents: “I want to be a lawyer.” My family inspired me with stories of fierce women in law, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Savitribai Phule, Sandra Day O’Connor and Leela Seth. I had RBG’s luminous words, “women belong in all places decisions are being made,” pasted over my bed. I wanted to become a trailblazer in law.

What made you pursue your degree, and why at USC Gould?
When I began studying the law, I had a chance to volunteer at the Legal Aid Clinic and help at Lok Adalats (People’s Court) and Panchayats (elective village councils), where the Clinic assisted in fast-tracking disputes. I subsequently had the opportunity to interact with some wonderful people from Lawyers without Borders, and I saw how effective communication between the parties could aid in resolving disputes with a “win-win” outcome. I wanted to pursue justice that pushed parties towards a solution that they could follow and that mended their relationship. ADR is a new concept in India, and while researching my interests, I read about Professor Peterson’s concept of “therapeutic justice” and the Practical Mediation Clinic at USC Gould. I knew I had to learn mediation and dispute resolution in an environment which allowed me to practice and learn, and thus I enrolled at USC Gould.

How has it been transitioning into your program, and how has USC assisted you?
The program is exceptional, no wonder it ranks top 10 in the country! Unlike my prior schooling, the program at Gould is like diving straight into the water and then mastering the swim along the way. I was particularly fascinated by the teaching style and pattern of assignments, which pushed us to reflect on situations rather than simply learn cases or statutes.

What is the most memorable experience or lesson from your USC studies?
My most memorable experience was during the Mediation Theory and Practice class taught by Professor Goetz. We had been learning mediation styles and conducting role plays for quite some time, and then one day I received an email that said: “you’re the mediator in a civil harassment dispute.” I had never dealt with civil harassment cases, let alone mediated them. But Prof. Goetz took extra effort to teach us the basics of such disputes and pushed us into the water. We had coaches who observed us mediate and provided valuable feedback. After the exercise, I received great feedback on how I actively listened, figured out the fine print arrangements, and redirected ancillary issues to the proper authority. I know it will take much more skill development, but I can confidently say that I am no longer scared of civil harassment mediations!

What is something that you’ve enjoyed during your time as a student outside of your studies?
When I came to the U.S., I received one valuable piece of advice from my father: “this country values merit.” I witnessed it firsthand when I had an interview for the position of Research Assistant at the Law Library, a job only open for J.D. students at the time. It has been a few weeks since I started as the R.A. for the Law Library, and outside of my studies, it has been one of the most fun and fulfilling experiences. I have worked on various laws in my short duration, and I have gained a valuable glimpse of the legal system in the U.S.! (the roast coffee makes it even better)

How will your degree from USC Gould give you an advantage for your future career? What do you want to do next with your degree?
USC Gould has so far given me exposure to the huge Trojan alumni network and truly taught me to think like a lawyer. I intend to take the California Bar and work as an attorney. I want to focus on employment and civil mediations within a corporate setup after the conclusion of my degree at USC Gould. Having worked for four years as an attorney in India, I want to use the knowledge I gain here at USC to tap into resolving disputes in imbalanced power situations.

What advice do you have for students who may be interested in following a similar path to yours?
Each day is a learning opportunity, from observing how your barista handles customers to negotiating through a deadlock. Another thing to keep in mind is patience. You will need lots of it. From starting your application journey to finally coming here, the process will truly build up the best quality in a lawyer – to be patient if you want to take away the best deal. So just be yourself, and don’t be afraid to leap. 

To learn more about the USC Gould Center for Dispute Resolution, including the LLM in ADR degree, please visit our website here.

Read More

USC Gould School of Law

The USC Gould School of Law is a private top 20 law school with a reputation for academic excellence and a world-class faculty. USC Gould is known for its inclusive and collegial student body, its leadership in clinical education, and its supportive and…

The USC Gould School of Law is a private top 20 law school with a reputation for academic excellence and a world-class faculty. USC Gould is known for its inclusive and collegial student body, its leadership in clinical education, and its supportive and global alumni network. Located in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s top legal markets and a hub for major law and entertainment firms, the Gould School offers a dynamic laboratory for legal training.