(Posted on 3 March, 2011)
Why is a District Court Internship a Must for Every Law Student in India
I am baffled by the sheer number of 1st year law students who want to intern under the Additional Solicitor Generals or the number of 2nd year students wanting to intern at a law firm.
Why are you so impatient? As a law student you are missing out on a lot if you don’t do at least one district court internship. And here are the reasons why you must:
1. Multiple internships: Law students nowadays can easily intern twice a year and thus the usual convention of interning at an NGO in the 1st year, Trial courts in the 2nd, Supreme Court in the 3rd, Law firms in the 4th etc. does not apply.
Now you can intern at many places in a single year, explore more and then intern at law firms maybe in your third, fourth and fifth years. That you can do lots of internships means that skipping a district court internship is not an option.
2. The 2 page CV: The recruiter in your 5th year will inevitably ask for a 2 page CV and fitting all the 8-10 internships that you (will invariably) do in 5 years wouldn’t be possible.
So even if you intern at a law firm in your first year, you’ll probably not have that written in your CV, because you’ll have bigger, better things to write about.
In your 2nd year, it is definitely not advisable to intern at a law firm or in an in-house legal cell. Why?
Why Law Firms Hate Junior Law Students?
- The good law firms don’t take 2nd year students.
- Even if they take you in through a contact, you’ll be an unwanted commodity there.
- The good law firms who take 2nd year students don’t give them any work.
- The 2nd year student who interns in a law firm is overawed by the place. He/she find himself/herself at sea.
Why you must intern at a district court in your first two years of law school
1. Start from ABC: The judicial system rests on our lower courts. They are a fantastic and humongous unit of our justice delivery system. The backlog of cases, the corruption and red tapism in judiciary, the dingy dusty courts, the ‘not-like TV arguments’ all are at play here.
Wouldn’t you want to see all this? Wouldn’t you like to see know about the journey of a case, see a cross examination and learn about the basic legal problems our people face?
2. Learning by doing: You are fresh out of your courses on contract law, the procedural laws etc. What great legal training it will be to see the words at work! A district court internship does that for you.
3. Basic legal drafting: If you are good, serious and proactive, the lawyer or his junior will give you some drafting work. Don’t be shy to ask for a template or actually ask them to tutor you with the assignment.
Learning basic legal drafting under a good district court lawyer is a a must do for any law student.
4. They take interest in you: For most of the district court lawyers and their juniors, interns are a fascinating, newly discovered breed of people. While big shot lawyers in the High Courts and the Supreme Court are bored with interns, the district lawyers are [insert an opposite of bored].
They’ll take interest in you, they’ll sometimes teach you like a professor and talk to you and ask you questions and guide and mentor you. They won’t pay you a stipend but will really make you to learn a few things. That’s why you intern, right?
5. Lots to explore: In any good district court internship you’ll come across Mediation and Conciliation Cells, Lok Adalats and tons of other institutions which will mesmerise you.
You’ll also learn about the administration of a court and will come across tons of terms which you’ll never come across in a law book. So, please intern at a district court.
How to chose a good district court lawyer for an internship?
As I have told you, district court lawyers don’t really know about interns and internships that much. Here is a way by which you can chose a good lawyer to intern under:
1. One way is to ask your parents, friends and relatives and invariably they’ll know some good district court lawyer. Make a list of three such lawyers.
2. For starters, visit each one of them and work and interact in that lawyer’s office for one day. In three days you’ll know how accommodative and good all the three lawyers are.
Intern with the one whom you like the most.
The other two really won’t mind you not coming after the singular day of work.
But I want to do corporate law
The recruiters always look for a balanced personality. If a recruiter sees half a dozen law firm internships in your CV, he’ll ask:
Why has this guy straight-jacketed himself into corporate law?
Did he really learn anything working in this tier 1 law firm in his second year?
Does he know the basic functioning of a court? The basic legal drafting? Has he/she ever interned at a district court?
See the Delhi District Courts website here.