Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Third Year of Law School - My first Law Firm Internship - New Delhi - November 2012


The Technicalities - The Formalities - The Work - The Small & Big Things - The Lesson Learnt - The Butterflies

It was a neither that chilled, nor that breezy as Delhi was supposed to be during winters. Temperatures were not just ready to soar down, not even when the first ray of the Sun had not completely shone. Just to add to my anxiousness, it was a new day and new beginning altogether as I was swiftly completing the long walk from Rajiv Chowk Metro Station to my office. Yes, my office but only as an intern, for the first time in a Law Firm. The butterflies in my stomach were just not taking a break, the closeness to my target for the next one month was becoming inversely proportional to their activities. I do not why but I think it was a bit obvious to be nervous as in fact it was my very first law firm internship. Before this day, Law Firms for me was just all about the good and bad stories I had heard from my Seniors, Super Seniors, and Supertime Seniors. Boston Legal and Suits had of course added a lot to my imagination. 

Frankly speaking, on one hand, I was slightly early to make my debut with these work places and work culture and on the other hand, lied my forever persisting ambitions of life, to make it big, to carve a niche for myself. Considering the "Balance of Probabilities", and my inclination towards the latter I entered the office exactly on time, with the firm faith and belief that I shall joyfully sail the one month long voyage of this Intern 'Ship'.


The office size was neither extremely huge nor very compact. It was decent enough. I had heard a lot about them and going by the name and fame of the firm, I never expected it to be furnished with wooden floor or wooden walls. Rather, they believed in the idea of Simple Living & High Thinking, making their deeds count more than their words. We were provided sufficient space to work and all worked together in a separate L-shaped library cum. study area. It was equipped with a few desktops and of course, we had the option to work on our laptop as well, wi-fi/wired LAN connectivity being provided by them. The interns area was not really adjacent to where the associates sat, so we could avail our own opportunity and privacy to crack some jokes, talk about each other colleges’ and chit chat to relax and take small short breaks.
There were like some twenty people working, out of which two were partners, one Principal Associate, 3-4 Senior Associates and some 8-10 Associates.
The majority of them interning were 4th year students. But they did prefer taking 2nd and 3rd year and even LL.M. students as well even through normal application process.

There was no seniority based discrimination as such but a lot often did/didn't depend on which college you belonged to at the time of applying. Interning in the 1st year over here would have never made sense altogether. The office where I worked had major focus on the practice related to Corporate law including Mergers, Acquisitions and Takeovers and IPR and not Taxation, something for which the firm is very well known.

The main tasks in this office were basically working on such propositions/research questions allotted to us by the Associates on which either the question of law was either disputed or undefined or was utterly confusing and unclear. We then had to look into all such statutes/cases/articles (Indian and sometimes foreign) where the thing in question found mention. Most of these research areas/questions were related to the Companies Act, the FERA & the FEMA, SEBI Takeover Guidelines, the RBI Master Circulars, the Copyright Act, Patents Act, Competition Act, and sometimes the Civil Laws like CPC etc, Delhi Stamp Act etc.

I interned for an exact period of 4 weeks. They even took interns for 3 weeks but again it depended, as there was no assurance on that part. Moreover, there was very little to gain if one interned for just three weeks. Rather, one would have neither made substantial contribution to the organization nor would have gained anything.

The working days were from Monday to Saturday except that 2nd and 4th Saturdays alongwith all Sundays were off. We were never required to work on those two Saturdays and the Sundays unless there was an extremely grave emergency and we ourselves were so willing to forego this one day off. Sometimes, it depended on the concerned Associate as well.

The official timings were from 9:45 to 19:00 Hours. The interns were expected to be there latest by 10:15 which otherwise created a bad impression, as they did keep a note of our punctuality. Normally, the working hours would extend by an hour or so but in one out of twenty times, I  stayed beyond 20:30 Hours as well.

The first day was basically spent in completing introduction forms, confidentiality contracts, getting laptop settings synchronized with the available wi-fi connection, talking to co-interns and making myself accustomed to the place, environment. Above all, on the first or the second day as per availability, I just like all other interns, had a compulsory interaction with the Principal Associate who alloted me a project/presentation/research paper to be made/submitted at the end of my internship on a current burning issue, something on which even the associates were working day in and day out.

This indeed served a dual purpose. The more was the amount of effort the interns put in their respective projects, the more the firm gained from us and lastly, it helped honing our own personal skills as well. Each of us separately worked and made submission on different critical issues on which we had never worked on because we thought we were not qualified/confident/able enough for that, which indeed led to a superb feeling of self accomplishment and achievement once we were through with it.
Coming back to the daily chores, often, we did a simple case law based research as well which is a very basic part of every small and big internship, whereby the Associate asked us to find an apex Court authority either in favour/against of a very small/easy proposition. But then he still required a case law on it to suffice his purpose. That is where the real researcher out of you should come out.

Many people did well in making a research note on the former as they supported it with very well written scholarly articles but suddenly stumbled when they were asked to do a case law based research. Every person over there had his/her own style of working and requirements to be fulfilled and we adapted ourselves accordingly for that, which indeed was not a daunting task at all.

Our response to all those queries/questions were in the form of small write ups of 3-5 pages including everything like the current position of law, what the commentaries said about it, what the courts had ruled , what the judges opined and and lastly our own viewpoint, suggestions and conclusion.

Perhaps, the work environment and the people was the biggest USP of the internship. The friendly way in which the interns were dealt with was just so commendable. The atmosphere was extremely healthy, congenial and conducive which created zeal to work in every intern. There was no categorization of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ associates. Everyone was equally approachable and one was free to revert through mail/intercom/personally in case of any query/confusion. There were no hierarchical formalities. There was not any kind of fooling around or people remaining absent for days and days together.

The timings were really suitable as well. There was no physical drainout of energy due to work. In fact, the Metro journey was more exhausting than the office work.

Lastly, the good work done was duly applauded and appreciated on spot. The work done in a wrong/inefficient manner was constructively (sometimes heavily) criticized with the expected changes/outcomes being notified immediately. We were always treated as a PARTNER IN EQUALITY and not someone who was small/big or above or below few people.

The project/presentation allotted on the very first day formed an integral part of the internship experience. We worked on it on a side lined manner basis either on the weekends at home or whatever time we were left with after reaching home. Any opportunity of doing work for associates in lieu of completing the project was not supposed to be missed because those were just short term assignments and the really learning came from there only. On the other hand, the project/presentation/paper had to be impressive enough, speaking for itself.

The work culture did not tolerate any act of smartness or flamboyance and demanded utmost amount of decency and sincerity, etiquettes, and specially clean language. One's personality and body language was important so as to give out positive vibes that we were extremely willing to work instead of remaining laidback and lazy.

The 10 minutes journey from Rajeev Chowk to the office was so full of places like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Dominos, CCD etc etc. But come what may, one should not miss an opportunity to treat himself/herself at Sarvana Bhawan which serves amazingly delicious South Indian Food. Out of all the names mentioned, it is the closest to office. You would at least have to wait for minimum of 20 minutes or so before you get a vacant table, but then the food and service makes you forget all the tiredness finally. The area in and around CP reminds you of the ancient and awesome British architecture, and vaguely the streets of Piccadily Circus in London as well.

The internship was my first law firm internship and was a very good opportunity to get an insight as to what the culture of Corporate Law Firms is all about. It was indeed no rocket science. The only difference was that, in college we work for the sake of gaining marks. But here it was an entirely different professional world, there was pressure both of work and of deadlines, as well as competition from other same tier law firms as well. To be very true, I never really felt it as I was just an intern but got words of genuine appreciation and a feel of accomplishment while substantially helping in reducing it to contribute to the growth of the firm as a whole.

On the last day of the internship, I received the much awaited certificate which had a special mention of my effort regarding my month long project presentation. But, to my utter surprise, it even had a mention of my attendance record at the end of it including the three leaves which I took without any reason whatsoever. I was a bit disappointed but then was simultaneously joyful to see the first ever paycheque in my name.

The last few hours were all about exchanging hugs, best wishes, greetings, contact ids etc. It was in fact the same day, on which Ricky Ponting had hung his boots forever. Somehow, within myself also, I felt as if something had come to an end very untimely, an end of an era, an end to the daily eight-to-eight schedule which I don't know why I had surprisingly started enjoying over all these four weeks, which I never wanted to end, be it because of the friends I made over there or because of things like, that it made me a changed and open minded man altogether. But just as all good things must come to an end, so did my internship. I walked out for the one last time with pride, had a last minute-long look at the office building, wondering that someday I would come back here again to work with the same zeal. Thanking the Almighty, I traced back my path to the escalator of the Rajeev Chowk Metro Station, from where it had all started, but without a single butterfly this time.

5 comments:

  1. Good one, felt the same when I did my internship,by reading this post, I just rode back to the time when butterflies did some hopping also in my stomach..A good piece, one must say :)

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  2. Chuninda words are here: Good one, rode back, butterflies, hopping, stomach :)

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks a lot Ellen. I am glad that you liked the post. Keep reading and help us in improving by your suggestions. So sorry for the late reply.

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  4. Thanks for sharing such a nice information. Keep posting !!!Law firm Delhi

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