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Life and Work with Shivani Honwad

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shivani Honwad Esq.

Shivani, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up as a first-generation American, meaning I was born and raised in the US after my parents immigrated from India. Growing up with a foot in two vastly different cultures made me very curious and interested in learning more about other people and cultures. As a student at New York University’s Stern School of Business, I spent the Summer of 2005 interning in Bollywood in Mumbai, India, where I witnessed first-hand the massive destruction of property and extreme devastation caused by the July 26, 2005 monsoon floods. Since then, I have dedicated my education and career to helping those in need obtain the services they deserve. For instance, during law school, I filed an affirmative asylum brief on behalf of a survivor of domestic violence abroad as a student attorney with the International Human Rights Law Clinic, taught constitutional law to Ballou Senior High School students as a teaching fellow with the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, and served as a comment mentor for the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy, and the Law. In addition, I served as a legal research assistant to Ms. Stephanie Ortoleva, Esquire and maintained a working relationship with Ms. Ortoleva as the Legal and Policy Consultant to Women Enabled afterwards by researching, writing and presenting at the United Nations and other international law based forums about violence against women and girls with disabilities. I founded The Law Firm of Shivani Honwad, LLC in 2014 after working in the public and private sectors and clerking for the Chief Judge of the Family Court of Delaware upon graduating from law school.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Of course, not! But to reference the well-known saying, “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor,” the non-smooth parts of the road definitely made me a better lawyer and entrepreneur. I had to learn when and how to ask for help on the things I wasn’t so great at so that I could excel at the things I did well. My advice to younger women starting their journeys is to explore and experience as much as possible. The great thing about our world today is that you don’t have to stay stuck in one job for your whole life doing something you hate. You have the power to re-invent yourself and change careers; it may not be easy, but you can do it! Network with anyone and everyone. Meet people of all different ages, from different cultures, in different industries. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. I’ve had a wide variety of unique work experiences and met some incredible people along the way. All of them have taught me something about people, the world, and most importantly – myself. I learned what I liked and what I didn’t like, which helped me build a business that has me doing what I love most of the time. I say most since there are always some less glamorous parts of running a business that you just have to deal with even when you don’t want to do so!

Please tell us about the Law Firm of Shivani Honwad, LLC and what you are most proud of and what sets you apart?
My firm focuses primarily on immigration and business law for companies in the fashion, tech, wellness, and entertainment realms. We assist individuals seeking to live, work, or study in the United States and businesses seeking to establish a presence in the US or bring over foreign workers. We primarily handle artist and entertainer visas for models, designers and artists, employee work or transfer visas for start-up and tech companies, and all types of entrepreneur and investor visas. We also handle marriage-based immigration cases. In addition to immigration services, we provide business legal services such as incorporating businesses, preparing partnership agreements, filing initial trademark applications with the USPTO, drafting business plans, and reviewing/negotiating a wide variety of contracts. Entrepreneurs and small businesses can think of my firm as their outside General Counsel.

I am most proud of my achievement while clerking for the Chief Judge of the Family Court of Delaware, where I successfully advocated for amending Delaware’s state laws to provide better protections to juvenile victims of prostitution. I am currently actively advocating for improved transparency in the modeling industry in NYC. What sets me apart from others as a lawyer is that even though like most lawyers I really like to win, I also really care about my clients. I do not take on every client referred to me for that reason since I want to spend my time working with people I enjoy working with and whose cases I believe I can positively contribute to in order to help them turn their dreams into reality.

Who have you been inspired by?
My mother and my grandmother. I, unfortunately, lost both of them ten years apart from complications related to pancreatic cancer and think about/miss them daily. Both of these women really shaped me into who I am today in being fierce fighters despite challenging circumstances and teaching me the importance of showing up for the people in your life.

The other top three women who have most inspired me professionally are Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG!) for her incredible work in not only breaking boundaries for women in the legal field but also advancing women’s rights throughout the US; Amal Clooney for her tireless efforts in combating human rights violations and being one of the most eloquent speakers I have ever heard at the UN; and Michelle Obama for pretty much everything.

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