Interview: Shivani Honwad, Esq., Founder of The Law Firm of Shivani Honwad LLC
Shivani Honwad, Esq. is the Founder and Principal Attorney of The Law Firm of Shivani Honwad, LLC. She and her firm provide business and immigration legal services to individuals and companies in the entertainment, fashion and tech sectors. She also spends a lot of her time advocating for the rights of vulnerable populations like young women, immigrants and children. In both work and life, Shivani is a fierce and passionate advocate for human rights issues. She led a successful movement to change a Delaware law in order to prevent children under the age of consent from being charged with the crime of prostitution. Read more about this incredible Like a Boss Girls #girlcrush and the many ways she is making a difference and making history today!
Name: Shivani Honwad, Esq.
Company: The Law Firm of Shivani Honwad, LLC
Job Title: Owner & Principal Attorney
Currently based in: New York City, Los Angeles & Delaware
Originally from: Pennsylvania
Name a woman in history you admire & why:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There are too many reasons to list, but to start, I love her advice on personal life and marriage (“Always good to be a little deaf”), career (“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune”), and her decisions as part of SCOTUS are, in my opinion, always spot-on. She epitomizes the Shakespeare quote, “And though she may be little, she is fierce”, which I can also relate to in how I live my life! Plus, I’m on board with how she wants to be remembered: “Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has.” This is something that we should all strive for in our lives! Can you tell I’m totally fangirling for RBG? #sorrynotsorry
Quote/piece of advice that you live by:
Always remember to make time in your life for the people who make time for you in their lives.
What inspired you to start your current venture?
Early on in my legal career, I noticed that there was a gap in legal services being provided to young women, whether in the fashion industry or as female entrepreneurs. Many women made comments to me about either being hit on by older male attorneys, being taken advantage of in a myriad of ways, or not being properly compensated for their work. Being a younger female entrepreneur myself, I was able to understand what this population needed and how to represent their interests in a way that would make them feel empowered and comfortable at the same time.
What are you/your company doing to make history today?
Working on changing laws to provide better protections to vulnerable populations including youth, human trafficking survivors and young women in the modeling industry.
What is one thing you have accomplished that you are most proud of?
One of the proudest moments of my career thus far was advocating to change the laws in Delaware while I was doing a clerkship for the Family Court Chief Judge after law school. I was able to work with State Representatives, doing the underlying research and gathering the data, to have the laws changed so juveniles under the age of consent could no longer be charged with the crime of prostitution. I was moved to do this when I saw two girls, ages 12 and 13, charged with the crime of prostitution. If the girls are that young, they are the victims of rape, not prostitution – and they should not be arrested and charged.
What is one project you are currently working on that you are most excited about?
Along with some of my clients and other inspiring friends and allies, I’m currently working on changing the laws in New York in order to provide better protections to those in the modeling industry (check out the recent Spotlight feature in the Boston Globe!)
What, in your opinion, is one of the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
A challenge facing young lawyers is that while law school tuition continues to rise, the salaries for lawyers today are not what they used to be, so the student loan debt burden is arduous.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have personally faced at this job?
There are times when I am unable to take on a case due to time or financial restrictions. I love helping people and I have such a bleeding heart. It’s so hard to say no when I hear a sob story, but my law school student loan debt isn’t going to pay itself. Additionally, I’m running my own law firm, and while I don’t have a set salary, I am responsible for covering the salaries of my staff. That means I have to be mindful of my own overhead costs and time, although that doesn’t come easily to me. At the end of the day, there’s only one of me and I can’t do it all myself, despite my best efforts! I wish I could help everyone who needed it!
What were you doing before your current role?
I have been lucky enough to work in a wide variety of sectors. Each experience has shaped me into becoming a better lawyer, a better entrepreneur and a better person. In my legal career, I held a judicial clerkship, I worked in the public interest sector (interning at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office), as well as in the private sector (at a law firm doing criminal defense/civil litigation). While in law school, I spent a year teaching Constitutional Law to high school students at Ballou Senior High School in Southeast Washington, D.C., which was one of the greatest experiences of my life on so many levels. I have lived, worked or studied in four countries outside of the U.S. – India, Switzerland, Australia and Italy (and I’ve attempted to learn the languages along the way!). Finally, I also worked as a bartender and waitress for many years, which is something I think everyone should do at some point in their lives to understand customer service.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to other female founders & change-makers?
Make time for YOU. Your company won’t work if you can’t work. I believe that self-care, maintaining your health and doing things that make you happy are key to achieving the balance you need to keep on building your empire!
Are there any great resources you have discovered that you would like to share?
Fun fact about yourself:
I was in Mumbai for the monsoon floods of July 26, 2005 and was stranded in the floodwaters for several hours…..but I survived! Story for another day….
Anything else you’d like to add:
There may be others doing similar things, but no one can replicate YOU. Keep working hard and stay true to who you are – the right people will notice and you’ll attract the right opportunities that are meant for you.
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