Name of the organization. City
Office of Advocate Pravin H. Parekh (Sr. Advocate, Supreme Court of India and ex Supreme Court Bar Association President), Neeti Bagh; New Delhi
Duration of the internship
4th May- 31st May, 2013
How big was the office? Team strength?
The office is not very big. It’s located in a primarily residential locality (Neeti Bagh), where the offices of many other big shot lawyers such KK Vengugopal and Pinky Anand are also situated.
It’s an up-market locality, reasonably close to the bigger Delhi courts, India Gate etc. Mr. Parekh and his son operate their practice through 2 offices; one located at Bengali Market area (presided over by his son).
The Neeti Bagh office is the office through which the Senior Mr. Parekh (Sr. Advocate, Supreme Court of India and ex-President SC Bar Association) carries out his matters.
As aforementioned the office is not very big. Mr. Parekh’s residence is situated on the ground floor and the office is spread over two floors on top of the same.
But it is a tastefully done up space with an extensive library, a modern conference room etc. and an area on the topmost floor with an attached kitchen where the interns can hang around during lunch time.
There were four associates besides Mr. Parekh and the usual office boys, typists etc that form the team of any law office but whom I didn’t have any major interaction with.
Application procedure. Internship contact details
I found the internship through a personal contact.
I was told however that it isn’t the hardest task to get an internship in this particular office. Also, they are more or less prompt in their response to an application for the same.
Duration in weeks. No. of days/week. Timings
Exactly 4 weeks (28 days) (counting weekends); Second Saturday of the month was off, rest all Saturdays were working and Sundays off ALWAYS for interns and more or less always for the associates. Report 9:30 sharp and leave by 6:30/ 7 maximum
Accommodation: how, where, how was it?
I stayed with family on Pandara road. The rest of the interns were all from Delhi or had family who they were lodging with.
First impression. First day, formalities etc.
The first impression was of course the office. The office is small but swanky, glass doors, wooden floors and the like. On the first day, I was suggested by a fellow intern to try the coffee as it was probably the best coffee I would ever taste. And, he was right. It was the one thing that kept me going on the odd long days at work.
There were no formalities as such on the first day. I in fact felt quite lost as there was no formal orientation and definitely no spoon feeding.
However I was told by one of the female associates that any research work etc that I would be doing for any matter would have to be saved on a separate folder on a drive meant just for the interns.
I thought that was a really smart idea since even the associates if they so wished could keep a track of how much work each intern was doing and the quality etc of the same. I found it pretty easy to gel with the other interns some of whom had been interning for a while before I joined.
Main tasks (in detail)
The first two weeks I was doing mundane tasks like reading case files thoroughly and making comprehensive list of events and dates for the associate who had assigned me that work with respect to a particular matter.
In the third week, I and a fellow intern were given the task of researching and drafting an article on Global Environment and Disaster Management for a conference that Mr. Parekh would be attending.
That along with research, going to court daily and watching the proceedings, making notes etc. formed the majority of my work. I also got the opportunity to sit in on an arbitration meeting and gained some insight regarding the way arbitration is conducted etc.
Work environment, people
The work environment was decent. There is a huge degree of flexibility in the working hours and work given as well. This can be a pro as well as well as a con since nobody cares whether you have work or not and how much effort you’re putting in.
One evening, I stayed back in office till after 7 so that I could find a case for a matter which had been consistently eluding me for many hours. A female associate noticed me sitting and asked me (I thought pretty seriously) whether I planned to stay the night. I found that experience pretty demotivating as I genuinely believed I was contributing.
On the flip side, in the absence of any control from the associates, I chose the matters I wanted to assist on according to my interest- environmental matters, corporate law related matters and though I did not receive any mindblowing acknowledgment or feedback, through my own research I gained immense knowledge on my subject of interest.
Best things? (Nothing is all bad)
The amazing coffee and believe me when you have long days ahead at work with insanely long cases to read up and research on, small pleasures like a perfect cup of coffee become a blessing.
Secondly, Mr. Parekh’s personal interest in each intern.
While the internship does not require a huge degree of discipline from the interns, the one thing which is a complete no –no is reporting late. The interns had to reach office maximum by 9:30 and in another half an hour or so all of us were required to assemble ourselves in Mr. Parekh’s office along with the associates.
This was one ritual which had to be adhered to like a routine. I personally felt very grateful for this rule as being the person I am I work best when there is structure and rules in my environment. I’m not the best independent worker. During this time, Mr. Parekh would ask each of us our names, colleges and other small details.
This however stopped after the first week and with new interns the same process was followed. He would also ask us what our individual tasks were for the day and how soon well be able to complete them et all.
From an advocate as senior as him, this kind of personal interest in our work and where we come from was heartening albeit a tad surprising. In the evening we had another such meeting around 4:30/ 5:00 where he asked as us about the progress of the work assigned to us.
Bad things? (Nothing is all good)
There is very little structure. On the first day, I found myself pretty lost. There was no supervisor as such assigned to guide the interns. There was not even a hint of an orientation and that by itself can be pretty overwhelming on the first day.
For the first three days, I just sat around and read the numerous files lying around, checking up on the news online and reading from the very extensive office library.
Soon enough I realized the only way to get work and be productive was to be aggressive and just ask and if you still get a no persevere with the requests till you get atleast something. The pestering would initially come across as obnoxious from a mere intern but with time the effort will be noticed and you’ll get an edge over the more laid back, languid interns.
What did you do to chill? Co-interns, colleagues
My co- interns and I would chill in the court canteens on the numerous visits we made. Also we had a pretty long lunch break so we would order in and then depart to the top floor an interns- only zone to chill, criticize our colleges, fellow associates and share a few laughs.
Also since the office environment is very everything goes type, we chatted very frequently with our fellow associates, all of them young and easygoing. In short no formal hierarchy issue existed. I thoroughly enjoyed my internship experience and still keep in touch with two of my fellow interns who I most bonded with.
No stipend. Some things in life are invaluable
Anything else you’d like to tell
Take every opportunity you get, big or seemingly small. During my last week, I got the opportunity to draft a Hindi speech for a function that Mr. Parekh would be attending. The speech was centered around the Ramayana and its relevance to recent times. We all were asked about who was most proficient in Hindi and would like to take this up. Everyone said no deeming it a waste of time and beneath them as it was disconnected from law.
I chose to do it as I write reasonably well in Hindi, always did really well in Hindi in school and basically rationalized that since it was my last week I could take it easy. Also, since it was the speech Mr. Parekh would be giving at a public function, he was personally interested in how it came about and I was excited at the prospect of getting to interact with him on a more intimate level ( and impress him!). And that was exactly what happened.
While my fellow interns were poring over lengthy case matters, I was in Mr. Parekh’s office taking down his notes regarding changes, making small talk with this distinguished man and getting noticed by him.
At the end of which, when I left, he told to my fellow interns during the aforementioned morning meeting that I did a very commendable job and came across as very confident and not at all intimidated by his presence and held my own.
I know it is a small achievement and he will probably not recall my name now but it gave me a huge boost of confidence and made me decide that even senior lawyers etc are humans and confidence and initiative is paramount for success in any field. Following the mob never gets one the spotlight.
Initiative is key. At the end you have to be the driver of your own destiny meaning simply that in this context if you don’t get work, be aggressive, hound the associates and if that doesn’t work either don’t while away your time.
Find an opportunity to learn, read the books, benefit from the opportunities which you do get. DO SOMETHING. If nothing else, I learnt self- dependence. And, same as aforementioned.