Internship Experience @ Chambers of Advocate Dash, Odisha: Court Visits, Friendly Atmosphere

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After completion of a rigorous Torts Law course in the 2nd semester, which also included the Motor Vehicles Act, I wanted to intern under a lawyer who specialized in accident claims cases and hence, Chambers of Advocate Dash.

Since this was my first internship I actually wanted to check how the law taught in classrooms was applied in the actual courtrooms and this internship exactly provided me the same opportunity.

Application Process:

Through my personal contact I came to know that Mr. Dash was one of the top lawyers in the field of accident claims practicing in the claim tribunals across Odisha, especially in Cuttack district.

With the help of my personal contact’s recommendation I was able to fix an interview with Mr. Dash who generously accepted my request for a two-week internship.

First Day, Impression:

I joined Mr. Dash’s chamber the very next day after the interview with him. He introduced me to to his juniors who were to become my teachers over the course of next two weeks.

The juniors were very helpful at every stage during the internship and they showed immense interest in teaching me in detail the tricks of the trade.

The overall setup in the chamber was informal which made me feel at ease to conduct and express myself freely.

Next, Mr. Dash tested my understanding of the Motor Vehicles Act by questioning me on few important provisions of the Act after which he handed me the cases pertaining to those provisions for which I was supposed to make case notes for the next day.

Post lunch we went for the inauguration of a new claims tribunal where I could assess by other senior and junior lawyers interaction with Mr. Dash that he was indeed a respected figure in the claims tribunal circuit of Odisha.

After the ceremony we returned to the chamber where I along with Mr. Dash’s junior sat down to draft a summary notes of submission for the next day.

Work:

Next day, we went to the tribunal where due to absense of the opposite party the matter had to be adjourned for two weeks. I was extremely disappointed because I would not be able to see the pleadings of a matter for which I had along with Mr. Dash’s junior drafted the summary the previous day.

Mr. Dash also took me along with him on matters which were outside the the Cuttack district tribunals.

On two occassions I was taken to tribunals outside the district of Cuttack for a railway accident tribunal once and for a workmen/employee compensation matter another time.

During one of the proceedings I had the opportunity to see how evidence was placed and how examination and cross examination of witnesses took place.

One distinct incident which would always be etched in my memory is the sight of a lawyer from an Insurance company who was ruthlessly cross-examining the wailing widow of a Claimant.

It made me question the dilemma between commitment to the profession and  basic humanitarian considerations in life.

On one of the days, Mr. Dash’s junior was not present and Mr. Dash not being a tech-savy person was visibly helpless for drafting a claim petition. This was my big opportunity to be of some assistance to the chamber.

That is when I assured Mr. Dash that I can draft the petition as his junior had taught me on earlier occassions of how to do the same.

I opened a previously filed petition which acted as a template and with Mr. Dash dictating, we were able to draft the petition with ease.

Since, tribunal is the first court of remedy where evidence forms a big part of the proceedings we also did a lot of running around to get the certificate of degree of injury from the doctors, and bed head tickets of claimant/patients from the Medico-legal report (MLR) section of the hospital records, which form a crucial part of the proceedings.

These documents go a long way in deciding the amount of compensation which should be paid to the claimants. 

Best Things and Stipend:

As such there was no monetary remuneration but I must say that payment was made to me in kinds since I used to have my lunch and snacks at Mr. Dash’s chambers and even during our courtroom visits Mr. Dash (or his clients) would bear all my expenses.

While signing my internship certificate, Mr. Dash wished me luck for my future, graced me with a diary and a pen.

I am tempted to relate at this point, to an unusual incident which took place during the last day of my internship.

One of Mr. Dash’s client’s (who probably hailed from a village); his claim had been successfully decided and was awarded a huge compensation.

In order to show his gratitude, he turned up at the chamber with a rooster (for Mr. Dash’s family) along with the fees.

This made me realize, that sometimes monetary compensation is not everything that matters, hard work can be appreciated with gratitude and appreciation as well.

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