Vikrant Sunderlal Chandel became Good Counsel’s Chief of Staff immediately after graduation. "It’s kind of wild to take on this position right out of law school," he said. On top of the legal work, he assumed sweeping responsibilities in August 2021, including budgeting, logistics, people management, and financial resources development.
He is personable and warm, the kind of guy who asks you how you’re doing and actually seems to care. When I spoke with him on Zoom, a well-lit apartment space was his backdrop. A black decorative plate adorned with painted birds hung on the wall—a gift from his grandmother. Besides the plate, inspiration to pursue the law was something else he received from his family of legal practitioners. Chandel grew up in Massachusetts, earned his B.A. in Government and Economics from Wesleyan, and attended Georgetown Law.
"The amount of things you can do with a law degree is vast," said Chandel. He saw a chance for broad legal exposure in Good Counsel. "We are a nonprofit and we are very short staffed," he said. As a result, the budding professional, alongside our interns, took on a breadth of work that ranges from NGO incorporation and estate work, to asylum and humanitarian parole.
Along with the broad scope of Good Counsel’s caseload, Chandel emphasizes the nonprofit’s holistic lawyering style. "Good Counsel is definitely different from anywhere else I've worked," he said, "I end up working with clients for months." He spoke about assisting Elevated Access, an organization of volunteer pilots who fly patients to receive healthcare services. Good Counsel brings its clients' ideas to fruition by building their legal structure, helping with fundraising, and conducting ongoing contract reviews. "Now they're doing it," said Chandel about Elevated Access, which flew its first passengers in June.
Each day has been notable for Chandel. Over the past year, he has had the chance to meet and empower interns situated globally. "I understand now that a year is not a very long time," he said. A shift in his mindset: He’s become more present, rather than trying to map out his future too precisely. "Now I'm thinking more about planning and how to get myself into spaces that I wanna be in," he said. Aware that life is nebulous and presents unanticipated paths, he radiates an openness to incoming experiences.
While remaining devoted to his work, Chandel has explored some interests outside of the law. "I've pursued a bunch of different lenses." He has experimented with sculpture, acting, fiction writing, and stand-up comedy. He’s an avid reader and handily displayed his copy of “The Ministry for the Future" when I inquired about his reading habits. He likes some classics, along with science fiction, and is not afraid to admit that he found Ulysses by James Joyce a bit slow. Likewise, he didn’t laugh at me when I admitted that my favorite movie is Lalaland.
I asked him about his favorite film, City of God, which he described as a coming-of-age tale about the dangers of the world. Chandel may not be a character entrenched in the dramatic Brazilian crime world, but the choice is almost symbolic. Like the main character Rocket, a photographer, he has used his own lens—the law—to interact with his community. It’s a movie about uncertainty.
"It's hard to say where the world is going now," said Chandel. But at least in his own life, he will continue to seize opportunities by the reins and work hard. He will be missed at Good Counsel.