This #JGLS alumnus traded the corporate dream for social entrepreneurship

Does it come as a surprise that the only first-year undergraduate student researcher for the UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty and Human Rights from Jindal Global Law School (JGLS) went on to become an accomplished woman in no time? Surely not! Merin Peter was living the corporate dream. Yet the #JGLS alum’s passion for socio-economic development led her to choose a path less taken. Read about how she gave up a promising corporate career to revive the Indian textile industry. Her passion for textiles led her launch her own social enterprise – Clasilks Designers which offers a platform for local women artisans from economically challenged backgrounds to showcase their skills. To scale up her textile ventures, she is now intent on pursuing an MBA.

That’s Merin for you–versatile, dynamic, driven and compassionate!

Her ascent to success began on a high note when she received the Savitri Jindal Scholarship to O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU). At JGLS, Merin’s conscientious nature allowed her to stack up many accolades during her time as a student. A few of them included:

  • Student coordinator for the Herbert Smith Freehills–Oxford University International Lecture Series
  • Speaker of the winning team for the fourth K.R. Ramamani Memorial Taxation Moot Court Competition
  • Treasurer of the Jindal Women’s Law Society
  • Board Member and Student Coordinator for Career Development and Placement Division
  • Member of the Centre for Public Law and Jurisprudence
  • Assisted JGU’s Sexual Harassment Committee in drafting its constitution by the Sexual Harassment Act of 2013

From organising workshops on gender-related issues to assisting illustrious faculty members, Merin seized every opportunity on campus to prove her mettle and enhance her skills.

“Access to some of the best thinkers from across the globe as faculty members was a huge advantage. I was constantly mentored and guided by them at every step,” she shares. She made the most of it. At JGLS, Merin was an undergraduate research assistant to Professor Khagesh Gautam, and teaching assistant to Professor James Nedumpara. The experience she gained working with them and the belief system she developed at JGU later shaped many of her decisions as she started her career with a corporate legal giant.

An internship stint with Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. (SAM) took Merin to Mumbai. Later, she and four other students from her batch at JGLS secured job offers from SAM, although she was the only one chosen for the Mumbai office. This resulted in her working for one of South Asia’s leading international disputes team. Moreover, SAM’s rotation policy enabled her to also venture into the general corporate practice. Her time at SAM allowed her to engage in a panoply of complex legal matters. The firm’s equity partners, Mr. Rishab Gupta, an esteemed Rhodes Scholar and Mr. Mithun V Thanks, mentored her during her time at SAM. Her diverse professional engagements, include international commercial arbitrations, bilateral investment treaty disputes, and mergers and acquisitions. But even with the extensive work pressure, her interest in academic discussions never took a backseat.

Merin says, “The network and the global interactive learning space at JGU enabled me to explore many areas of interest.” She created that space in her professional life too, as she became a member of Young International Arbitration Group (YIAG) of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), Young Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration (MCIA), and HK45 of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC), among others. While in Mumbai, she organised initiatives like Q&A sessions at the YAIG event in the city and regularly took part in scholastic opportunities that encouraged academic discussions. Merin adjudged the India qualification rounds of the 2017 Frankfurt Investment Arbitration Moot Court held at the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration.

Although she enjoyed her work, her passion for innovative change inspired her to employ her legal knowledge to a worthier cause. It motivated her to shift her focus from a purely corporate sector and be more involved in the development of the community. In order to pursue her dreams, she quit her job with the firm and decided to revive her textile-based social enterprise – Clailks Designers, a social enterprise she had launched in 2014 to empower local women artisans from economically challenged backgrounds. During this time, she was also awarded the University of Chicago’s International Innovation Corps Fellowship. However, she did not take up that opportunity since the particular project she wanted to work with did not commence that year. Currently, she is launching an online store for her mother’s textile business and is the creative head and e-commerce director of the venture.

In a bid to grow her entrepreneurial venture, Merin recently took the GRE to pursue an MBA degree. She hopes to launch her own ethically conscious Indian textile-based clothing line. The voracious learner with a deep interest in academic pursuits and passion for socio-economic development leaves no stone unturned in her path—and it’s leading her to the top!

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