There are numerous constitutional and legal rights that most people aren’t aware of, and to be completely fair, it’s hard to memorise or remember all of these rights. However, you need to understand that, in the eyes of the law, you have certain rights that you are entitled to protect at all costs. Being aware of your rights will keep you from getting in trouble and prevent others from taking advantage of you. Whether you are keen on knowing how to adopt a child or want to know the legal way to address sexual harassment at work, knowledge about the law is a must. It’s imperative to have an understanding of your legal rights. If you are not sure about whether or not you are entitled to certain benefits or privileges, you can contact your lawyer to help you out. But what if you could get this knowledge from a trusted source on the internet?
In conversation with TC46, Instagram Content Creator & Lawyer Tanya Appachu shares how she began her legal journey on the internet. Here, she talks about simplifying complex legal jargon, the challenges of being a female lawyer in India and the feeling of being able to help out those in need.
1. What is your educational and professional background?
I am a law graduate from ILS Law College, Pune and have a Post Graduate Diploma in IPR laws from National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. I have worked with Deutsche Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers Mumbai and practised in the Jodhpur High Court. I used to be a Tax Consultant and in the recent years transitioned to Family Law.
2. What prompted the idea for Your Insta Lawyer? Why did you choose Instagram as the platform?
During my years of practise, I noticed how women in general irrespective of how educated, wealthy or independent they are, rarely paid heed to the laws of the country or knew and understood their rights. So women were in bad marriages, toxic relationships, being harassed but not doing anything about it because of all the social stigma attached and lack of awareness.
I had taken a break from work for maternity and hadn’t gone back to working full time. And everything sort of clicked for me. The idea to make women aware of their rights, make it in a simple and easy way that people of all ages would want to watch it. I noticed the reels format was doing really well on Instagram and there weren’t any lawyers out there making reels so jumped at the idea and decided to start and see how it goes.
3. When you create content on a complex subject like law on Instagram, how do you ensure it’s simplified enough so that it’s easy to understand?
When I started out I would try and imagine how I would explain something complex to my mother in very simple language so that she would get it. That was the benchmark I set.
And I have never been a fan of big fancy words or legal jargon that people in our profession use, sometimes unnecessarily. So I think it came easier for me to be able to simplify complex terms and issues. It is a bit of work though to ensure that the substance is not lost while keeping it simple and entertaining. It does get easier with time.
4. Do you have people flooding your Insta DMs for legal advice? How do you deal with this?
I do get overwhelmed by the number of DMS. I try to take it as a good sign that people feel comfortable approaching me and I try to help out most times. But if something requires a lot of time and energy, I do ask them to reach out to me on the phone for a consultation.
5. In a country where most women aren’t yet aware about their basic rights, how can we encourage them to approach experts to address their concerns?
Lawyers are generally considered as expensive and unapproachable. People often reach out to lawyers as the last resort. Lawyers are there to help and not all lawyers are super expensive. A lawyer would probably not even charge you for a consult and would charge only when they take on work. Also, it is important for women to know that they have the right to free legal aid and can reach out to the National Legal Services Authority for a pro bono lawyer.
So it is only through awareness, talking about it can we help women and encourage them to approach the right people for help.
6. When you were starting out, what was the moment that felt big in terms of a milestone?
It is usually the smallest things that make me happy. I remember when one of my earlier reels hit a million it bought in a lot of followers. And one lady DM’d me saying she watched my reel in a pink saree which was about the rights of a married woman. She was being abused by her in-laws and thrown out of her house. She remembered my reel and went back to her house and told them that no one can take her out of her house since it was her right to stay in her matrimonial house.
For me, that felt like a big win. I could help someone out in their real lives just via a video on a social media platform. I then understood the power of social media. And I was glad that I took the decision to be on it. That felt like a milestone.
7. What are the challenges of being a female lawyer in India?
Lawyers like any other women at a workplace face gender bias. I think the issue is with having to deal with so many men around us all the time. From judges to fellow lawyers to even clients. I’ve noticed how clients like to have a male lawyer, someone they can network with, have a drink with to discuss the case. So clients come with their own prejudices against women. A man would prefer to go to a male lawyer for a criminal case than a female lawyer. It is hard to fight such prejudices.
8. What are some lessons in personal branding on social media as an expert?
Honestly, I am no expert on social media. I am still learning, every day and far from creating a personal brand for myself. But I think if you are true to yourself, put your personality out there, your uniqueness and your quirks, it helps people relate to you and create a brand for yourself.
9. What’s your take on professionals now using Instagram to share information on sexual health, women’s health, dental health, mental health, laws, and other expert-led subjects?
Instagram used to at one time be predominantly entertainment based. It was all about visuals. It still is but it has also made way for professionals who are doing really well too. And honestly, I think any information is great, from whatever medium you get it from. You never know who needs to hear what. It is great to get information about something complicated packed into thirty seconds or easily readable carousels. And it is not easy being a full time professional and also being on a social media platform. So hats off to everyone doing it.
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