If you’re a regular TikTok scroller, you must have come across the videos of Mamta Siwakoti. Usually clad in formal attire and dark shades, the 25-year-old lawyer welcomes you with a ‘Namaskar!’ Then she proceeds to give information on Nepal’s constitution and raise awareness on the country’s legal system.
It was boredom that first pushed Siwakoti, also popularly known as The Digital Lawyer, to step into the video-sharing platform. The first Covid-19 lockdown took its toll on her and she found solace in singing and dancing on the platform and watching content by both national and international creators.
During one of these scrolling sessions the lawyer came across a foreign doctor who was talking about his experience in medicine and giving advice. By then, Siwakoti had already passed her bar exams and gotten a license to practice law.
The lockdown had put the brakes on her plans. But she still wanted to use her free time to share her knowledge. “I thought I would put my education to good use,” she says. “But I never expected the kind of feedback I eventually got.”
She began with a ‘How to be a lawyer in Nepal’ video, which garnered over 330,000 views. After the video’s success, and the sudden realization that law was an area of interest for many Nepalis, Siwakoti decided to make more videos.
As her content got traction, people started commenting on the clips, often presenting hypothetical situations to understand how the law works. Today, the lawyer makes videos on everything from family law and property distribution, to adoption and Nepal’s constitutional history.
Growing up, Siwakoti got the first peek into law from her lawyer father, who always encouraged his daughter to ask questions. However, it was when she started getting seemingly self-evident questions from masses that she realized how most Nepalis were uninformed of their country’s laws.
“I even had people ask me the legal age of marriage in Nepal,” she says. While the subject of law is vast and can often seem exhausting to learn, it’s also something that governs our lifestyle. This is why Siwakoti has a small segment on her TikTok called ‘Know your laws’ where she talks about people’s right to education, safety, food, and against discrimination.
Since TikTok has a three-minute limit, Siwakoti has shifted to YouTube for longer videos and her channel there now has over 2,900 subscribers. However, her biggest audience is still on Tiktok, where she has more than 124,000 followers.
With such a massive following, Siwakoti has received her share of hate and controversy. After she made videos on laws against domestic abuse and property partition after divorce, Siwakoti was, for instance, accused of promoting divorce.
“I don’t mind being criticized over my content,” Siwakoti tells ApEx. She wants to keep improving and constructive feedback always helps. But when she receives personal attacks from strangers, it does get to her. “Our society is still largely patriarchal and there are many comments on my posts which stem from deep-rooted misogyny,” she says. In some severe cases, she’s also had to disable the comment section.
But these setbacks haven’t deterred Siwakoti from pursuing her love for law. Gone is the young girl who got 90 percent in SLC exams and pursued science in +2 because that was what was expected of her. Today, Siwakoti is determined to change people’s perception of law.
Siwakoti is right now working to establish a website for The Digital Lawyer with the help of different academic researches. She’s also an advisor at National Law College, freelancing as a legal report writer and taking law cases. In between, she makes Tiktok videos.
“What I’ve learned is that patience is the key,” she says. “When one door closes, another opens. You mustn’t lose hope.”