Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

Jayanth K. Krishnan '96: Working at the Intersection of Human Rights, Law and Politics

Buckeye Barrister Club
Jay Krishnan with one of his
William Mitchell students

At the end of his first year of law school, with a summer split between the Moritz Oxford program and a small firm behind him, Jayanth K. Krishnan '96 wasn't sure law was the best path to the work he wanted to do. He met with then-Associate Dean Nancy Rogers and described his interest in India and the human rights issues he wanted to study. Dean Rogers said he needed to be working with Professor Marc Galanter at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a friend and former Fulbright Scholar at the University of Delhi. Dean Rogers suggested he contact Professor Galanter and consider complementing his legal studies with a Ph.D. in Political Science.

Jay followed up with Professor Galanter who invited him to apply to Wisconsin . program. Jay completed his final year of law school at University of Wisconsin as a visiting student and six years later earned his Ph.D. in Political Science there. His dissertation compared how public interest groups in the United States , India and Israel use litigation, rather than other tools such as demonstrations or legislative reform, to affect social change.

A year before he earned his Ph.D., Jay tested both the law and political science job markets and landed a visitorship at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. He learned much about teaching and published several articles. A year later, Ph.D. and J.D. in hand, he accepted an offer to teach at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul , Minnesota . The school's emphasis on interdisciplinary work was a good fit with Jay's goals.

In addition to teaching, Jay is currently a consultant to both the United Kingdom 's Department for International Development (DFID) and has been a consultant to the World Bank. "Both are essentially philanthropic enterprises," says Jay, "that consider promoting a transparent, efficient, and timely rule of law in developing countries because of the belief that the rule of law underlies development efforts." Jay's consulting came as the result of his published work on access to justice in India .

India has one of the most crowded court systems in the world according to Jay. Its Supreme Court can have up to 20,000 cases pending review at any given time. "Cases take decades, if not lifetimes, to adjudicate," he says. The World Bank asked Jay to conduct a pilot study of how India might begin judicial reform.

Jay examined Lok Adalat (people's courts) which were forums statutorily established by India in 1987 to introduce dispute resolution as an alternative to litigation. Although the government was touting Lok Adalat as a huge success, Jay and his collaborator, Marc Galanter found empirical evidence that suggested otherwise, including claimants' dissatisfaction with both process and outcomes.

Based on his work in India , the United Kingdom 's DFID also asked Jay to continue evaluating the Indian legal system and propose reforms.

As rewarding as his consulting is, Jay considers teaching the best part of his job. "William Mitchell places a special emphasis on teaching," he says, "and that's one of the primary reasons I chose to come here."

Many of Jay's teaching role models are at Moritz. Jay had Robert J. Nordstrom Designated Professor Dan C.K. Chow for property during his first year and found him an excellent teacher who was exceptionally well organized and thoughtful in the classroom. Jay teaches property today using his notes from his class with Professor Chow as well as the textbook. Jay loved Professor Rapoport's energy and enthusiasm in the classroom and was influenced by Isadore and Ida Topper Professor of Law David Goldberger, first as a constitutional law professor and then as a peer reviewer providing timely and expert editorial comment on one of Jay's articles in progress.

Jay learned his teaching lessons well. In 2004, William Mitchell students voted him "Teacher of the Year" in just his third year of teaching.

Although Jay teaches property, immigration law, legislation, and law and society, his first love is comparative law. "The U.S. doesn't operate in a vacuum," he says, "Issues of alternative dispute resolution, access to justice, and timely adjudication are not unique to the U.S. " Jay believes that the one of the reasons the U.S. is so influential in the world is its exporting of the rule of law to emerging democracies. "However, the United State 's ability to export our jurisprudence" he cautions, "depends on the cultural, historical, and religious customs within a society and the extent to which those factors create resistance."

In return, Jay believes the U.S. can learn from other countries' legal systems - a belief upon which his scholarship and consulting are based.

Classmates wishing to reach Jay can contact him at jkrishnan@wmitchell.edu.