MS: What was your pivotal moment in life that made you take this direction?
GJ: I really don’t know what made me choose this path to be honest. I remember just not knowing what to do in my next part of life after graduating undergrad. I knew I had to figure out my next move, but had no idea which move to make.
MS: What made you want to be what you are now?
GJ: Honestly, I never expected that I would be in this position five years ago, let alone three years ago. I think I knew I wanted to help people all along, but it was figuring out the way in which I would do that. Knowing how much powerful knowledge comes from a law degree made me want to take up law. Plus, the legal field is not diverse. Only 2% of lawyers in the U.S. are Asian, and as an Indian, I make up an even smaller percentage of that categorization. The field is predominantly white and male. How can there really be equal justice for all when the individuals who can represent clients and people do not get what it’s like to be in their client’s shoes?
It’s so stressful to throw young adults into the world and expect them to know what to do. I do know that I saw amazing work some individuals were doing. Supreme Court justices fighting for equal rights and politicians pushing forward progressive ideas about equity really made me think that the legal field had so much to offer. I think I’ve always been interested in the way in which the law shapes our daily lives.
MS: What are your favorite parts about what you do?
GJ: Honestly, not every single day is amazing. It can be kind of monotonous and it can be pretty dry. It’s also A LOT of reading. But, I think my favorite part is honestly learning. You learn so much doing anything and that, to me, is such a blessing. Learning is a lifelong process and being able to do so while advancing the interests of those individuals who have been traditionally unable to access justice is worthwhile. You can help individuals who society tends to ignore and suppress. Being able to touch and connect with clients who have been disconnected from the legal system, through shared common experiences, excites me and makes me want to be an even more powerful advocate.
MS: What are your short-term and/or long-term goals at the moment?
GJ: For long-term goals, I want to aspire to be the best version of myself that I can be mentally, physically, and emotionally. I want to grow as a human being and continue learning and helping others. I also think it’s important for me as a person not to look too futuristically because living in the moment is more my forte.
“You’re living your own life and you’re the only person who will be thinking about that life in its entirety when it comes to an end.”
MS: What is something(s) you wish you knew in the beginning?
GJ: These small little things we worry about in life are irrelevant in the grand scheme of life. Doing poorly on something is not indicative of you as a person. Life is too short to spend it in constant stress. Also, I wish I understood it earlier that it really doesn’t matter what other people think, say, do, etc. Do not compare yourself to others because everyone’s life trajectory is different. Uniqueness is beautiful. Live a life you want to be remembered for. Surround yourself with people who pull you up. People will come into and will exit your life when they’re meant to. If something is not suiting you, do not feel guilty cutting it out. Honestly follow your heart. It’s so weird how doors open for you without you knowing or trying. What’s meant to be will happen. I never thought I’d be a lawyer and most people around me would not have pictured it, but here we are.
MS: Who/what are your biggest inspirations and why?
GJ: All of my good friends inspire me in different ways. Everyone has qualities that I admire and respect. I think when you surround yourself with worthwhile people, you learn from them and vice versa. I also find myself inspired by people who stand up for others in their times of need. People like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, who represents progressive ideals in a society that fights against equality and equity inspires me.
MS: What is your favorite food/drink-related memory?
GJ: It’s so hard to think of a favorite food or drink-related memory. I know sometimes I’ll crave my mom’s cooking because it brings me comfort and gives me a sense of home. Other random foods and drinks remind me of travels and friends. I have so many moments where food makes me feel nostalgic and connects me back to random memories. These moments make me smile and make me enjoy the food even more because it means more. For example, every time I eat Nutella it reminds me of this small cute cafe I used to go to on my way home from school while studying abroad in Australia. I used to treat myself to a Nutella donut every Friday (or twice a week sometimes, but shhh). That trip makes me really think about my first experience living alone in a new country. It brings back so many memories of joy, new friends, and just that walk back to my apartment. It’s funny how food is like a time traveling machine of sorts.
MS: What is your favorite quote(s) and why?
GJ: I remember seeing this quote a few months ago and really liking it: “At the end of life, what really matters is not what we bought, but what we built; not what we got, but what we shared; not our competence, but our character; and not our success, but our significance. Live a life that matters. Live a life of love.” – Unknown. This quote resonates with me because it kind of hits home on how I feel about life. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily my favorite, but I remember seeing it a while back and connecting with it. Other than this, there are so many quotes that resonate with me, and most speak about living your truth and treating others with kindness.
MS: What is your ideal day in the work life?
GJ: Ideally I would be working on something I’m truly passionate about. I’d be learning something new and contributing towards something that is positive and helpful to people in need. Work can be pretty mundane, but if you truly love what you do, then time can go by pretty fast. I will say that I wish work was different in this country. I wish work was only 4 days a week and prioritized the public’s mental health more than profit.
MS: What is your ideal non-work day?
GJ: My ideal non-work day depends on my mood. Sometimes my introverted side comes out and I want to spend no time with anybody but myself. In this case, I’ll read a book, watch some TV, listen to music, nap, maybe head to the beach, eat a cheat meal, and do whatever I can to relax my mind. Some days I need to be extroverted and need to see friends and unwind in that way. Sometimes you need to share a laugh to feel better.
MS: What are some things that keep you going?
GJ: Hope - I’m constantly hopeful about the future. I’m also just so grateful to live the life I do. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or a little pessimistic, I’ve always noticed that putting things into perspective helps. I’m so grateful to be healthy, to have the means to get things I need, to have an education, to have a car, to have clothes, etc. I’m so grateful to be alive. Each day is such a blessing, even the most boring and dull days. Also there’s too much to enjoy in this world to not keep going, whether that be food, nature, the sun, etc.
MS: How do you approach a work life balance?
GJ: The key is separating work from life. Being able to disconnect from work and live your life is what keeps you mentally okay. Your work should only be part of your life, not your whole life. I don’t think about what I have to do for work during my days off. I think America prioritizes work way more than it should be. So many people spend their whole lives cooped up into an office working while life flies by. Doing what you enjoy mixed with knowing your mental limit is key! When you do what you love, you love what you do.
MS: What is something you wish people learned or knew more about in your industry?
GJ: Honestly, nothing. I’m pretty sure people know what they need to know about lawyers. Like every profession, there are good and bad. There are those in it for the profit versus those in it for the general welfare of others. Something that shocked me was learning that the legal profession was 86% white – but I think these staggering statistics exist in most professional fields. Also, lawyers don’t know everything about everything. The law is so dense and differs between states (so don’t ask me questions).
MS: What does supporting local mean to you?
GJ: Supporting local means helping and buying from those nearby who are competing against these enormous corporate chains. It seems like everything has been swallowed up by big corporations and that gives us a lack of personalization and care/attention to detail/a monopoly of goods. Supporting local nowadays also means supporting businesses that are likely struggling due to COVID-19. These local companies or businesses are focused on a smaller amount of things that they are passionate about, and they actually put care into their products.
MS: Do you have advice or encouragement for ways to support local?
GJ: A beginning step could possibly be to think about things you could start buying locally. I started buying coffee beans from a local coffee shop instead of from larger chains or grocery stores. Although this is just a tiny example, it shows a simple way to support smaller businesses. I think if someone starts a business off when they’re passionate about that specific area, it’s more important to support them than big chain stores who likely don’t have as much passion or care towards their products, and care more about the profit. It’s also better for the environment to buy locally, which is a huge plus because we should all do what we can to decrease our ecological footprints.
MS: If you could solve one problem in the world, what would it be and why?
GJ: There are so many changes I would make. I think we spend way too much time creating divided classes of people based on characteristics like race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, and so on. If humanity could see beyond these irrelevant classifications, there would be so much less conflict and strife.
MS: What is the most valuable advice you’ve received?
GJ: I think what changed my viewpoint on the world is being told that I should look at everything in a more grateful sort of lens. I’ve applied it to my thinking and it’s shifted the way I perceive things, including small troubles I face. It really puts things into perspective and makes you worry less about trivial stuff. Also there’s so many times where I’ve been told to follow my intuition – which is definitely not bad advice. Most elementarily, treating others like you want to be treated is a tenet of life for me. Lastly, something I live by is the idea that time is the most valuable thing you can give to another person.
MS: In your experience, how do you organize and prioritize your work-load?
GJ: I’m a very visual person. Making lists decreases my anxiety and helps to organize the tasks I have to do. There’s something just so incredibly satisfying with crossing something off of a list of things you have to do. I often make these lists based on deadlines and sometimes jump around projects to keep my mind fresh. I also make sure to give myself breaks. I know myself and I work best when I’m not piling on an intense amount of work in one sitting.
MS: What is your definition of success?
GJ: I find success in quality over quantity. For me success is not rooted in money or fame or notoriety. Success to me is rooted in doing something you’re passionate about and helping others lift themselves up. Though money brings comfort, money does not bring success. I think my quote above perfectly encapsulates how I feel about success.
“Success to me is making significant connections with others in the world based on shared experiences. It involves uplifting those around you.”
MS: Looking back on life, how have you or values shifted or refined?
GJ: I think my values in life continue to change as I grow. I’ve definitely learned to love myself a lot more and appreciate my time. I’ve learned to cut out certain energy I do not want in my life and to prioritize me. I’ve also learned to be a hell of a lot less apologetic – life is honestly way too short to surround yourself with inauthentic people. I’ve also learned how to really be happy. Living your truth makes every single day feel like such a beautiful day.