Internship Experience @ Vaakya Legal Advocates and Consultants, Chandigarh: More than an intern like treatment

Name. College. Year of Study

Abhijeet Singh Rawaley, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. First Year

Name of the Organization. City 

Vaakya Legal Advocates and Consultants, Chandigarh. A new litigating law firm based out of Chandigarh and Bombay.

Duration of the Internship

40 days. Although initially I had planned to inter for a month (May, 2016), as the High Court usually closes by around 4 th -5 th June, my internship was extended by a period of 10 days, for the reason that the we had to submit an expert opinion to a court in UK, on the Indian legal system, in a case concerning extradition of two persons to India.

How big was the office? Team strength? 

The advocates practicing at Chandigarh are as follows:

1. Mr. Arjun Sheoran, (NLSIU) appears in Punjab and Haryana High Court, and other judicial for a such as CAT, Consumer Disputes Forum inter alia.

2. Ms. Neha Sonawane (NLSIU), appears in Punjab and Haryana High Court.

3. Ms. Aditi Sheoran (UILS-PU), mainly litigates in district courts across Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula.

The office is at #1, Sector-16- A, which is not far from the High Court. The book collection at office library is amazing, and phenomenal and continuously expanding. Interns are also free to buy any book they consider worth for library, the expense incurred on which is recompensed by the office later on.

Application Procedure. Internship contact details

Interns can e-mail at [email protected] stating place, i.e. Chandigarh or Bombay and period of internship.

Duration in Weeks. No. of days/week. Timings 

Attending court proceedings and witnessing oral advocacy is highly encouraged by the advocates. So, one has to usually be in the court from 10 AM till 4 PM, post which you may be in office, primarily to observe meetings with clients all of which may last till about 8 PM. Saturdays are off. If you already have some work to finish, or even otherwise, you may be allowed to leave straight from the court at around 4 PM.

Accommodation: how, where, how was it?

N.A.

First Impression. First day, Formalities etc. 

The office is devoid of formalities. I knew Mr. Arjun Sheoran, whom I used to refer as “bhayia” as he was a senior at my school beforehand. He graciously welcomed me at the office and introduced to the practice areas of the firm on the first day.

However, dress code is paid due attention while one is in the court. You may be expected to carry your laptop even while you’re in court, since work can pop up at any point of time.

Main tasks

The main tasks given to me were as follows:

1. Legal research on provisions of law in the fields of criminal procedure, civil procedure, constitutional law, guardianship laws, private international law, service laws, education law, media law, environmental laws, consumer laws, election law, extradition law, police laws, and revenue law.

This was usually done in a very consultative and interactive process, with nothing representing a top-down work allocation fashion. So, interns have a say in – what to do, when to do, and how to do the work. However, in exceptional and exigent situations, the freedom is reasonably restricted as well.

2. Assisted in drafting Public Interest Litigations on issues concerning abuse of executive authority, welfare of backward communities, and misuse of public exchequer Also, assisted in drafting Right to Information (RTI) applications regarding provisions of legal aid by State Legal Services Authorities.

The firm is primarily a litigating firm. The advocates take up a number of pro bono matters apart from the often mundane “paise wali” litigation.

3. Making notes for oral pleadings in various judicial fora such as the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum and District and Session’s Courts at Mohali and Panchkula.

4. Since, the advocates at firm are also called upon as panelists on TV discussions and debates, I was also asked to research on topics for the same, and was taken along to the TV studios to physically observe the same.

Work Environment, People

One of the factors which made me send them an application was that all advocates in the firm office at Chandigarh are young and recent graduates. As a student with a profound interest in litigation, and thinking of a probable career in the same field, they helped me gain an insight into the challenges that a career like litigation involves immediately post a secluded and isolated law school life.

The work environment was really very conducive for me to learn from the internship experience. It was neither in a top-down, where work comes from the upper echelons sans any effort to gauge an intern’s interest fashion nor a bottom-up manner, where interns have to beg for work allocation, but a very consultative and interactive mode in which I interned. In practice, I was more treated more than an intern.

Since most of them are not very old, and have been in the law school loop in the near past, they proffer really helpful and cogent advice on how to not only survive law school, but make the best out of it. They shared their experiences in probably every field possible: academics, mooting, writing, friendships, socializing amongst other things.

The work environment goes beyond office, courtrooms and newsrooms. I was also taken along when Mr. Arjun Sheoran was appointed a Local Commissioner by the High Court to supervise the process of “nishandehi” (i.e. demarcation of land boundaries in consonance with revenue records) in the presence of executive authorities in a village in Rajpura (Punjab) to discern the bone of contention in a dispute brought before the court.

This experience of getting black formal shoes dirty in the agricultural fields traversing to mark boundaries was an amazing and out of the box experience for me as a law student. The clerical staff at the office is very friendly and supportive as well. Advocates usually take you out for lunches, and also offer a sip at the Bar Canteen. They are very pushing, and encourage interns to learn as much as possible.

Best things

Supportive advocates, out of the box experiences, more than an intern like treatment, awesome treats, and drafting work allocated were some of the best things.

Bad things

Nothing much. The office is in a basement, which can be boring at times. But, the problem can be circumvented by browsing through the fantastic collection of books available at the library, or going out for a while.

What did you do to chill? Co-interns, colleagues

I was the only intern. As pointed above, the advocates were really friendly and supportive, who provided ample opportunities to chill, from offering sipping sugarcane juice as self-rewards post arguments to offering coffee at Bar Canteen as a precursor to hearings in court and to letting you leave early when requested.

Stipend/ month

A nominal stipend is given.

More important though were the generous gifts given in the form of two books on lawyering.

Any Other Thing

Another good thing was the exposure in terms of getting to know more people. From clients ranging from activists to chartered accountants to RTI activists, and senior doyens at the High Court, I got to know and converse with some of the best people at Chandigarh.

The advocates at the firm, when at court, make sure they introduce you to each and everyone whom they encounter, which eventually might lead to an exhilarating conversations.

Biggest Lesson

The biggest lesson was to get to witness a practical of the cliche “do what you like”. The people at the firm who chose litigating as a career offered crucial insights into their field, which are often unavailable either in law school or at other places, which I am sure would help me a lot, if I choose to tread upon it as a career later in my life.

I also got an opportunity, to critically scrutinize my “love for law”, which I think has helped me gain a new perspective, albeit not the only one.

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