Public Leadership Credential (PLC) alum Nidhi Singh has spent her entire career leading through law, creating immense impact in her many different communities. With ten years of experience as a practicing lawyer, she has spent her professional life drafting and arguing matters before the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court, working as a visiting faculty member at multiple law schools in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata in India, and doing pro-bono legal cases for the East Palo Alto Housing Association, among many other accomplishments.
Her work primarily revolves around the intersection of law and public policy, which is ultimately what brought her to Harvard Kennedy School’s PLC. “Public policy is very much a part of the law-making process,” Nidhi says. “As lawyers, we are mostly trained to read between the lines and interpret specific laws, but a good public policy and its impact measurement is evidence-based and empirical in nature. Through completing the PLC, I was hoping to overcome the challenge of understanding evidence-based policy making and the various tools used to measure the impact of a policy.”
With her specific goal in mind, Nidhi learned tangible ways to craft meaningful strategies and measure impact. “The PLC program has helped me appreciate how a more meaningful policy should be enacted to ensure that the laws which are legislated are in line with the underlying policy. Many things that we understand about the policy making process are intuitive in nature, and the PLC helped me overcome this challenge by making me aware of concepts like decision tree, strategic triangle theory, theories of change, the fish tail diagram, impact measurement and implementation challenges in policy designing.”
These learnings are already making a profound difference in Nidhi’s daily life, specifically changing the way she approaches her leadership on a moral and ethical level. “The lessons learned on moral leadership have helped me appreciate the difference between public value and social value, and this differentiation helps me make better and more informed decisions,” Nidhi explained. “The understanding of causal chain, counterfactual, and appreciating the evidence to evaluate impact has helped me design better legal strategies and arguments before the Indian courts. Applying these concepts to legal scenarios as well as policy related situations has helped me avoid unintended consequences.”
With this newly honed approach to leadership in her legal field, Nidhi is now tackling a new challenge: becoming a licensed lawyer in the United States. “Some of the skills that I acquired during my PLC experience have already helped me while studying Elements of Policy Analysis course at Stanford Law School and attending policy practicum and labs as part of the JSM program at Stanford. I’ll also use these skills in my legal career for overarching litigation and various policy aspects, especially as I become licensed in the U.S. in New York and California.”
While Nidhi’s experience at the PLC was critical to furthering her success as a lawyer, she also recognizes how transferrable the skill set she’s learned are to other fields. “The skills taught in the PLC are useful in every possible pathway, be it as a policy maker, manager, lawyer, doctor or engineer. It helps in recognizing and adapting to uncertainty in implementing policy designs and in developing necessary skills to test the strength of the solutions designed. Any learner would benefit by learning about system maps, assessment techniques and other tools for risk assessment that help in finding innovative solutions to various policy challenges at all organizational levels.”
Nidhi is the first to admit how emotionally charged the field of law can be, but as a new alumnus of the Public Leadership Credential, she is now equipped to lead through even the most complicated of circumstances. “Law as a profession is quite demanding and calls for both emotional and behavioral management to achieve the desired policy outcomes,” she said. “My experience with the PLC was incredibly fulfilling and will undoubtedly help me address these challenges in my litigation and dispute resolution roles, as well as future opportunities in the U.S. legal field.”