Home > Editors Picks > When Its Your Turn To Intern: Srija Kumar (Batch 2020, NALSAR)

When Its Your Turn To Intern: Srija Kumar (Batch 2020, NALSAR)

Gone are the days when the summer and winter break meant lazing around indoors and watching your favorite TV shows! If you have voluntarily or involuntarily decided to pursue legal education, you know this is a far- fetched dream now. Without sounding more sadistic, I would straightaway come to the point for which I have been told to pen down this article i.e. to give you insights into the possible mistakes one could avoid while interning. Having finished only half of law school and some four- five internships my experience too is not that grand but from whatever limited exposure I have had and from the wisdom passed on to me by my seniors, I would still like to share a bunch of things which hopefully might help at least those of you planning your internships in your first or second year (kindly excuse me if I shamelessly sound preachy at any point).

When I entered one of the most prestigious law schools of the country, my understanding for the longest time was clouded by the myth that my college is so prestigious, it wouldn’t really matter if I don’t intern in the initial semesters. And if you too like me think the same, let’s demolish the myth right now. Whether you belong to a tier-one law school or some private university, it barely matters because at your internship place you will entirely be adjudged by your skills and hard work and not by the rank you scored in an exam which can easily be called a lucky-draw (with no intention to undermine anyone’s achievements).

Deriving from my experience even though I have done some four-five internships, majority of my learning was from only a couple of them owing to the factors that I would discuss below.

Firstly before applying for internships, I never did a background check as in I did not bother much knowing about the work culture of the organization/firm I was intending on working with. Try consulting your seniors who have interned at that place to understand the actual work experience before you decide to join a certain internship place. Honestly speaking, in my initial semesters, I was always inclined towards doing ‘chill internships’ but to my mind this is the biggest mistake one could make. Get this straight internships are the time to LEARN, if you decide to take up an internship only because there isn’t much work and you have more time to ‘chill’ it is going to defeat the purpose of doing an internship ultimately. And the remorse of being nonchalant at my initial internships hit me hard when I met my co-interns at later internships from other universities with much more expertise and experience than I had. Hence, this particular break I decided to wholeheartedly intern at a place where there is no dearth of work. After doing some preliminary research about various litigation experiences, I decided to apply at the Chambers of Senior Advocate, Geeta Luthra and it has turned out to be one of the best internships I have done by far. But this ride wasn’t as smooth as I thought it to be in the first place. I have had days when I simply wanted to throw my file in the air and run to my PG because of the mounting work pressure. I have had days when I was constantly questioning the rationale behind putting myself through the torture instead of simply doing some ‘chill’ internship. But now when I look back and ask myself if it was all worth it? I will say a resounding yes. Try finding your ‘chill time’ during weekends but as far as your internships are concerned, take them as seriously as possible because believe me or not this is the only place where you will see the practical aspects of law. From running frantically to getting the court pass made to standing in the overwhelmingly long queues. From gawkily carrying files from one court room to another to eventually getting awestruck seeing some eminent lawyers argue, this litigation internship experience was arguably among the most enlightening experiences for me. It not only helped me to understand the diverse facets of litigation as a career but also helped me learn to cope with strenuous work schedule. What amazed and inspired me the most was despite the tremendous work pressure, the associates around me had dogged determination and unbridled enthusiasm which was commendable.

Try figuring out what area of law you would want to work in post law school. The sooner you figure this out, the better it would be for you because it will help you to streamline your internships accordingly. But do not rush into making a call without having a fair idea or experience, focus on making an informed choice. Do all the experimentation and testing before reaching a conclusive decision. You can choose to dedicate the initial two years of law to discover your field of interest by trying your hand at diverse internships

It is a good idea to intern with an organization which specializes in the field of law you are interested in. For instance, if you pick family law or labor law you might consider interning in either a boutique law firm or a practicing advocate who specializes in the area of law which interests you.  Secondly bear in mind the duration for which you apply for internship, for instance if you plan to intern under a practicing lawyer choose to intern in the months when the courts are functioning because interning in the months when the courts are shut can deprive you of the court room exposure which forms an essential element in learning the intricacies of litigation. Also the third and the most important thing to remember while applying at any place to intern is to gauge the extent of learning you will have at that place. Many a times one seems to be carried away by the big name of the organization while applying, of course having an internship in a reputed organization will have a great CV value but jumping on the bandwagon of interning at big places in your initial year of law school might not turn out to be that great of a learning experience unless you are assured that someone there will be willing to teach you work or you are Harvey Specter. Moral of the story at least in your early years of college, try focusing on the learning and the practical experience you will gain so that you can bank on it when you decide to intern at big firms in the later years. Once you have the fundamental understanding of things, then it will be easier for you to work in the bigger firms and organizations with adeptness.

Once you land up your coveted internship, the goal should be to maximize your practical knowledge. Because let’s face it law school inadvertently conditions us to adopt a pedantic approach where our learning gets limited to mugging up case laws and sections but when you take up an internship focus on gaining the pragmatic understanding of law. When you are interning the cardinal rule is to go ask for work. You must show your interest in the work to have it reciprocated and this is coming from my very own experience. Because of being hesitant to approach the people at my workplace and most importantly apprehensive of wrecking any important work, I always had inhibitions approaching the seniors for work which hampered me from getting the work of my choice. Therefore, don’t miss out on any opportunity to get as diverse work as you can. Even if you are unacquainted with any specific provision or area of law, do not be hesitant to try it because this is your chance to make mistakes and learn. Another great opportunity internships provide you is the opportunity of networking. Building a good rapport within the organisation and also among other interns will reward you throughout your career. Starting this as early as possible is a smart move. Networking will open your mind to new opportunities and keep you abreast with the dynamic legal industry.

Your internship experience will become more adventurous (quite, literally) if you choose to intern outside your home town like I did this time. If you curse your college, welcome to the PG life. When you are stepping into a metropolitan city like Delhi or Mumbai to intern, the chances of getting a comfortable, cheap and not very distant PG are as minimal as managing to have breakfast before the 9 am lecture. But as I believe in the silver linings, I’d suggest take it as an opportunity to not only grow on a professional level but also on a personal level. Basically it teaches you the necessary survival skills which you might miss out to learn in the University.  In simple words, enjoy this experience of interning because that’s the place where you will amaze yourself by doing a 100 page due-diligence even though you dread doing a four page reading for class, that’s place where you fill end up researching on a complex issue in the area of law about which you got familiar with just an hour ago and most importantly this is the place which might be your home some years down the line. Welcome to the real world, it sucks! You are gonna love it!

We’d like to thank Srija Kumar (Batch 2020, NALSAR) for taking out time from her busy schedule and sharing her experiences.

You too can do the same. Email us at collegesnoops@gmail.com or contact us through our Facebook page. 

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