SS: What made you start Lawctopus? How did the idea strike you?
TK (Tanuj Kalia): From my second year in law school, I was freelancing for Legally India , which is now India’s leading online portal for the legal community. Legally India also launched a blogging competition around then, where my blog avatar, LegalPoet won the ‘Best Blogger’ award of Rs. 35,000! That felt rich. Being a law student, I was slightly disappointed that Legally India did not publish more content related to law schools or for law students. That irritated me. Then in third year chicken pox struck me. It was ugly and put me in bed for long with nothing to do.
I knew how an Orkut community called ‘legal internships’ contained useful insights on legal internships: how to apply, what sort of work one can expect, stipend etc. The idea took concrete shape during the bed-rest at the time of illness. I jotted down ideas on the back of a book, what all will the website contain, team etc.When I came back to college, I (very excitedly) pitched this idea to my friends. Some were interested, other were not. And we launched Lawctopus from, as the fashion goes, NUJS’ dorm room.
SS: Describe your team? Who’s in it?
TK: Four of my batchmates are part of the team. Kudos to them for playing vital roles during the first 6-10 months. All of us are in final year of Law. Prateek and Dhruv (two of the co-founders) have got high paying jobs, Debanshu will be doing an LLM in UK and Naman is preparing for civil services! However, now, we have got a team of around 180 law students who form a part of our team of college managers across 73 law colleges in India. Last month, we also got 2 assistant editors on board! Check here.
SS: How can students leverage this community?
TK: Law students can use Lawctopus in myriad ways. They can find all sorts of opportunities they can avail (call for papers, essay competitions, moot court competitions) on site. They can read internship experiences of other law students in different places (lawyers, law firms, companies, NGOs) across India. This helps them make informed choices about their internships and careers. We have a very good section on careers and write-ups on career advice. Those good with words can write about law school/law student life and we are always happy to publish the stories law students want to tell.
SS: Who generates the contents for you guys?
TK: Most of it is crowd-sourced. Anyone is free to share his/her internship experience and can put up an opportunity on Lawctopus. Our job is to format, edit and curate the content. The career advice pieces are largely written by me. We also have a top notch lawyer from the Kolkata High Court, Mr. Protik Prokash Banerjee who writes for us. Law school news, though still a fledgling section is something we want to build upon. We’ve got campus journalists for that but I guess we’ll have to pay them to expect regular, good quality content.
SS: What is future roadmap for Lawctopus?
TK: We are looking to create an institutional plan with some of the bigger players in the legal publishing industry so that our contributors can get paid. That should result in more quality content. A more proactive and professional career counseling section is on the cards. We want to have a Lawctopus in every college and soon in some other countries too.
SS: What kind of traction do you generate?
TK : We get around 37,000 unique visitors a month which generates more than 2,50,000 page-views . We are with pretty low bounce rate (52%) and 91% of the visitors are from India. 66.5% of our visitors are returning visitors. Also, our Facebook page is now a home to more than 10,000 law students.
SS: What are the roles of college managers? How do they help you?
TK: Their main job is to tell us about the opportunities their college has to offer. Secondly, if there is something newsworthy going on, their job is report it to us. Furthermore, when we launch some projects, for example the present one to put question papers from various colleges at one place, they act as our contact points.
SS: Does Lawctopus participate in organizing events, symposiums etc !?
TK: No, we haven’t organized events till now, though it’s something we plan to do, as we have the bandwidth to do it. However, we do act as media partners in quite a few of them.
SS: How does Lawctopus generate revenue?
TK: We generate revenues largely through advertisements and getting course subscriptions for some of the online legal education providers. It doesn”t amount to much, but last year we touched around 2.5 lakhs in profits. We expect that to double this year.