Internship Experience @ MZM Legal, Mumbai: Criminal Law Work

Name, College, Year of Study

Preeta Panthaki, Symbiosis Law School, Pune, 2nd year

Duration and Application

I interned at MZM Legal for a period of four weeks – from 1st June to 28th June. I applied by sending my CV to the firm through an advocate there who knew my mother.

Since I was a first year, there was no interview process for me. But other senior interns had to go through an interview process as well. You can contact them at [email protected]

Adv. Majeed Memon, the reputed lawyer who started this firm has his chambers in the office, but he doesn’t interact with interns. Interns interact only with the associate lawyers.  

First Internship!

As a student who had just completed her first of five years of an undergraduate course in law, a first internship can be pretty daunting. The transition from being a student to working full time doesn’t seem smooth, to say the least.

Also, with the least amount of legal and procedural knowledge, the fear of making a fool of myself in front of the other interns and associates always lingered. But through the course of the internship, that changed quite a bit. 

Hellooo South Bombay!

For the suburban Bombay-ite, South Bombay or “SoBo”, with its Victorian architecture, world famous cricket stadiums and being the business hub of the city, was the land of the elite.

It was unchartered territory, bragged about by the residents living there, and visited by me only on occasional “long drives” from home to the Marine Drive. But a mere 40 minute local train on the Western line every morning brought me to Churchgate from Santacruz.

You could reach the firm even through the Central line, and you would have to get off at the Bombay Central train station and take a cab from there, the base fare being Rs. 22.

Work Environment

The firm focuses on criminal law, specializing in white collar crimes and dispute resolution. There were about 10 lawyers apart from the partners working there, and they were all helpful if I ever needed a doubt cleared.

Throughout the course of my internship, I saw a lot of high profile cases being assigned to the firm.  On one of my days there, the honorable advocate Ram Jethmalani visited the office.

The environment wasn’t too strict or too relaxed. My superiors were quite friendly and always asked if I wanted to order tea/coffee or some food when they were doing so.

Work I did

Since I was a first year intern, I was mainly assigned clerical and research work. Preparing files and timelines on a variety of relevant issues surrounding corruption, the defence sector, the Modi government, legal developments in the NJAC, etc was some of the work that I did.

Observing and assisting the lawyers on high profile cases made me feel pretty awesome, and all the more excited to learn more. I accompanied lawyers to the different courts as well.

A funny incident was when I was super excited to enter the sessions court for the first time, and hear the proceedings, but turned out the judge communicated with the lawyers in Marathi, a language I couldn’t understand at all! The lawyer then laughed and explained a clueless me what had concurred on the way back.

Perks

The perks of interning at MZM in Kala Ghoda were plenty:

Courts

The address of MZM Legal is such that both, the sessions court as well as the Bombay High Court, are within walking distance, which made it that much easier to accompany lawyers. Throughout the course of the internship, I must have visited the different courts around 7 times.

As a first year interested in litigation, accompanying a lawyer to these “temples of justice” is quite fascinating. But soon enough, you learn that proceedings get adjourned more often than not, and you cannot witness those dramatic cross examinations you see in the movies.

This made me question if the job of a litigation lawyer is actually rewarding or not.

Timings and Interns

The timings of the internship at MZM Legal were 10am to 6pm with both days of the weekend off. This was particularly nice since the local trains weren’t super crowded then, and the weekend would help me relax.

Another great thing was that this firm didn’t appoint a lot of interns. Throughout the month there were just 2 other interns who I came across. You then don’t get sidelined among a lot of interns, and your work actually gets acknowledged.

WiFi and Laptops

MZM Legal did not allocate office computers to the interns, as is in some other firms. We were asked to use our own laptops, and they were connected to the fast WiFi of the firm.

Fooood!

There were multiple food joints really close to the office. Restaurants right around the corner were Mamagoto, Paratha Mantra, The Kala Ghoda Cafe, and The Pantry.

For food on a budget, there were multiple chaat stalls and a place that sold rolls. For the Parsi food lover, Military Cafe was 5 minutes away.

You could also order food from sandwich joints and a South Indian restaurant called Dwarka. A happy moment was when I accidentally met a couple of my friends from college and seniors as well in a cafe for lunch, since almost everyone interning in Bombay would be in and around Kala Ghoda.

What I liked at my MZM Legal Internship

Since I had an interest towards Criminal law and Contracts in the first place, observing cases surrounding fraud, misrepresentation, property disputes, etc was interesting.

I visited the Bombay High Court 4-5 times, each time with a different lawyer. Entering the High Court for the first time was amazing, since it had an absolute Hogwarts-y feel to it, with the massive arches and windows and lawyers scurrying around in long, regal black robes.

What one needs to understand is that usually first year law interns aren’t given much responsibility or attention.

The internship is focused primarily around giving the intern experience of being around lawyers and the court, rather than the intern contributing to the firm’s activities. This is why I wasn’t even allotted a stipend of any kind.

It is also why most of the top tier firms around India ask for the criteria of being in the 4th year or above to apply for an internship.

I feel that this firm gave me a lot of experience as to how firms work and helped me form an opinion as to where I wanted to intern next and what it feels like to be either a litigation or an advisory lawyer. 

What I disliked

There were just a few things that I thought could have made my internship experience better.

First was the fact that there were some days where for hours I didn’t have much work to do. This would probably be because I was just a first year at the time, and wasn’t trusted much with the work, but it was still a setback.

Second, I would never be asked to accompany a lawyer to court. It was me asking the lawyers to take me every time they left for a hearing. Also, I was never made to sit alongside a lawyer while they consulted their clients.

Accompanying a lawyer at a client meeting is what I wanted, but sadly that never happened.

If you are a shy person hesitating to ask for work or to go to the court, you might never get to.

Lastly, I didn’t receive feedback on the work I did in the last week of the internship. This was a bit of a downside.

What I learned 

Along with me, there was just one more intern, incidentally a senior of mine from college. She was immensely helpful in teaching me basics such as citation and footnoting, advanced ways to search for judgments in various legal databases and other criminal law concepts.

Unlike as simple as it sounds, citations are a big deal in the legal world, and managing to learn how to cite sources was certainly an accomplishment.

I also learnt about multiple relevant news topics, and how to read through judgments while finding similar arguments.

All in all, interning at MZM Legal was a good first experience, and I learned a lot, but I would have liked to have been more busy, and gotten work at a larger scale. I am sure my senior as well as other senior interns got and will get larger responsibilities and work assigned in the firm.

Now, at the end of my second year, I am looking forward to interning with specific lawyers and not a firm to get a more hands-on experience of how the law and legal procedure works in the country. Since the practical aspect of being an advocate is different from merely the theoretical point of view we learn in college.

This entry has been submitted for the LexisNexis-Lawctopus Internship Experience Writing Competition 2015-2016. iPleaders is the learning partner for this competition.

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  1. what she has written is absolutely true and real fact, should appreciate her,when you speak about litigation, its not only 1st year students after 5th year also they will not give you proper work and money, so students are getting afraid of litigation and choosing law firms or Lpo, contract associate jobs. Am i right?????

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