HRLN (Human Rights Law Network) is a legal NGO headed by Mr. Colin Gonsalves (human rights activist and a renowned advocate). It has offices all over India. I had interned at their New Delhi office in Jungpura in April, 2009 for a month (in my first year).
The details of applying for internship can be found at http://hrln.org/hrln/about-hrln-/internships.html . On the first day, you are assigned a team under which you work. There are several teams (refer: www.hrln.org). I was assigned to work for the trafficking team.
Timings: Timings are 9:30 am to 6 pm. Saturdays is half day.
Work: Work is mainly research based. I got work from advocates at HRLN as well (in which case I had to do legal research for the cases they were working under). I researched on maintenance and alimony laws, domestic worker’s rights, labour laws, sick industries, trafficking, etc.
There is however immense variety in the kind of work you can get. I got the opportunity to edit conference reports, work on UN reports, research in general, legal research relating to RTI, police information, tabulation of surveyed data, etc. I also had to upload data on their website using Joomla.
Field experience: At HRLN, there is immense scope for field experience as well. I attended court hearings at Supreme Court and Delhi High Court regularly.
I was also fortunate to accompany the HRLN trafficking team in going to an area at the outskirts of Delhi to rescue some under-aged trafficked girls (it was a great learning experience).
Apart from this, I also attended Dalit Indian People’s Tribunal and also got an opportunity to attend a film festival at IHC, Delhi.
Friday meetings: Every Friday, there used to be an office meeting in HRLN where the entire office used to gather and share their experience or discuss some issue in general. It included the interns as well.
On one particular Friday, we met people from Tibet who are fighting for Tibet’s autonomy and on another we were showed a documentary film on right to food and a discussion ensued thereafter.
Bad: There was a lawyer called Mr. Vipin Benjamin Mathew who was very critical of five year law students. I had interned there in my first year and he gave me some drafting work without helping me at all with it.
When I requested for guidance he was not helpful. On the contrary he said that I should not be interning if I do not know anything and it does not matter if I am only in my first year.
Thereafter he also criticized the concept of five year law schools. Apart from the horror I received at the hands of Mr. Vipin, everything else was fine with my internship.
Food places around the office: We used to get one hour lunch breaks but there weren’t many good places to eat around the office. You may find a lot of local dhabas.
Accommodation: The office used to help foreign interns in getting accommodation (I am not sure about others). There are PGs available in Jungpura area itself (very near to the office).
Stipend: I did not receive any. The organization gave me some books (publications of HRLN) which were to be donated to my college library.
Thumbs up: This place is totally recommended to intern during your first year and especially if you want to pursue a career in this field.
Editor’s note: Please see that the internship experience is for HRLN, New Delhi. Do send in your internship experiences at HRLN’s other offices. Should be of help to a lot many 1st year law students in India.
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