Sneha Pandya ’21: Thinking Differently About the Law

Pandya shares how she wants to create a pipeline for diverse students interested in pursuing academia and what the law means to her.

Hometown: Sarasota, Florida 

Law for me is . . . “being in service of others, of communities, and of people. My time in law school has really highlighted the importance of thinking about the law differently. Not accepting it the way that it is, because the system is so deeply flawed and broken, but instead trying to imagine what it could be.” 

Why the law? When Pandya graduated from Northeastern University in 2017, she decided to work at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. “I fell in love with doing legal work,” she says. There, Pandya developed an interest in consumer protection and deepened her understanding of strategic impact litigation.

Law School goals: For Pandya, law school presented an opportunity to consider a career in law teaching. “I myself have been thinking about academia . . . thanks to the encouragement of a lot of different mentors,” she says. She also wants to open that door for others. “It’s really challenging to become a professor when a lot of us just aren’t in these spaces. People of color, LGBTQ people, first-generation professionals. . . . I applied for a fellowship with the Davis Polk Leadership Initiative to try and create a pipeline for diverse students in academia.”

Moot court community: Pandya tried out for the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition just a few weeks after arriving at the Law School. “I met this incredible community of racial justice–minded 1Ls who went on to become some of my best friends,” she says. Pandya and her moot court partner, Alex Werner ’21, qualified for the national tournament and won best petitioner brief and the competition. This past winter, she served as a judge for the 1L Frederick Douglass boot camp and saw the students she mentored “grow through the very same experience that we had.” 

Honors and activities: Harlan Fiske Stone scholar; Simon H. Rifkind Prize; Davis Polk Leadership fellow; Millstein Public Service fellow; articles editor, Columbia Human Rights Law Review.

Next steps:  As a recipient of the Millstein Public Service Fellowship, Pandya will be moving to Washington, D.C., to pursue financial regulatory work as a member of the Senate Banking Committee majority staff.