Mentor. Artist. DJ . Humanitarian . Lawyer . Head of Office at Justice Without Borders
Endless research, tireless hours, the lack of a social life- these are but a few of the common traits associated with those studying law but for Shalini, being a part of the legal justice system is so much more than that.
As the Head of Office at Justice Without Borders, Shalini works to seek justice for migrant domestic workers who have returned home, ensuring that they are not exploited whilst abroad.
While shows like How to get away with murder or Suits have painted lawyers as a ruthless bunch, people like Shalini are working hard to mentor a new generation of lawyers that are passionate about using their law degree to fuel a greater good. Inspired by those she has mentored, Shalini feels reinvigorated and proud that increasingly, people are pursuing their own dreams, rather than the aspirations of others.
As if studying law and using it for social causes wasn’t already impressive, Shalini moonlights as a DJ and an artist. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, that’s pretty badass.
Shalini does mural paintings and works closely to secure projects with a large social impact for Mural Lingo, a social enterprise dedicated to the promotion of the arts in Singapore through the creation of employment opportunities for young local artists and providing opportunities for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
“ I have always been interested in and passionate about music and the arts”
Shalini has expressed her interest in electronic music, but did we mention that she can spin?
Yep, Shalini happens to be Mural Lingo’s in-house event DJ and has since Dj-ed at a Psyckaholics event. She shared that music has effects on creativity and is thankful to have had the opportunity to pursue both of these passions outside of work.
When we asked her about her life motto, she dropped some truth bombs on us, saying that by trying everything at least once and exploring all that life has to offer, one can identify opportunities and carve out a path that is in line with one’s life purpose.
Well said Shalini, we couldn’t agree more.
If it weren’t for being the Head of Justice without Borders, what and where would you be?
Shalini: I would probably still be in a law-related role, for an organisation with a social cause or mission, or one that conducts investigations for transnational or international crime. Having spent over 4 years in The Hague working on Defence Teams at the International Criminal Court, I developed a strong interest in investigative, conflict-related and/or humanitarian-related work.
As someone with the ability to assuage the pains of the marginalised with legal aid, it is inspiring to see someone like Shalini going against the grain to fight for what she believes in, using her skills to fulfill a greater purpose.
“ I think it is important to be able to contribute positively to the world”
After chatting about her work and interests, we asked Shalini what it means to be a woman, and who she admires.
To Shalini, being a woman is about banding together with and supporting other women to challenge the adverse gender biases that still permeate the professional and social structures. She adds that women are stronger and more empowered when they stand together – and there are ways to break the glass ceiling.
You can see the adoration is Shalini’s eyes when she spoke about Professor Rathna Koman, her Professor for criminal law at SMU who Shalini deeply admires for her teaching methods and constant drive to do more for her students the school and society.
With all the incredible years of service she has put into the Law School and with all the students she has inspired and motivated, it strikes me just how humble Professor Rathna is. She is always looking towards how she can do more, for the students, for the law school, for society, for good. I want to be like that, too.
Shalini continues by saying how it is important to remember that we are all part of a single race of humanity and that we should be looking to serve just anyone who walks along our path. Remembering that one is privileged to be in a position to help somebody, and I think getting in touch with Professor Rathna has reminded her of this.
Even though we only asked for one person she looks up to, Shalini could not help but mention one more person. “Can I list another one?” She asked excitedly, “ Another female who inspires me is Sri Aryani. She is the Head of Office of Justice Without Borders’ Indonesian office, a Ph.D. student, and a mother. I am constantly in awe of how she balances her responsibilities to the organisation, her family and her studies.” Shalini hopes to one day achieve Aryani’s discipline and drive.
To end of the interview, we asked Shalini what she would tell the ten-year-old her, she smiled, as if she was reminiscing her childhood and told us:
“Life is too short to be playing by the rules of others. Follow your heart and don’t let anyone tell you what to do. Listen to your inner voice and you will not get lost. There is no such thing as “not practical” – if you can imagine it, it is possible.”
With more women like Shalini constantly working to spread love and support, there is nothing that can’t be overcome.