Online Internship Experience at CJLS: Multidisciplinary Research Work

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Name of Student, College, Year of Study 

Samridhi Shukla; Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur; BA LLB (Hons.); 1st year

Name and Full Address of the Organization

 Centre for Justice, Law and Society (CJLS), Jindal Global Law School

Duration Of Internship

1st April 2021- 30th April 2021 

Application Process

CJLS accepts applications on a rolling basis and the application process is two-fold. The first step entails an application form which can be easily accessed on the Center’s official website. It primarily requires the applicant’s curriculum vitae and short 150-200 word-write ups focused on the motivations and passions behind applying for the internship.

The eligibility requirements include enrollment in a degree of law, good research and writing skills and a general awareness about issues revolving around social justice. It is important to keep in mind that CJLS sets its questionnaire to more personal tones, hence making the selection process highly refined and applicant sensitive. 

On clearing the first round, the applicant receives an invitation to the interview round per mail. This round is essentially a loosely structured, informal exchange between the applicant and the interviewers. You will be expected to talk about themes similar to the ones asked in the initial form. The interview too, thus is applicant focused and the interviewers want to know “about” you rather than “from” you. 

If you are passionate, politically aware and hail from a historically oppressed and/or marginalized background, I urge you to apply for this internship. CJLS is unique in a way that it values lived experience, passion and diverse thought over the typical cut and dry overachiever CV that most intern recruiters look out for. There is prompt correspondence through mail and the applicants are kept updated with the status of their application. The confirmation of selection is sent within a week’s time. 

Main Tasks and General Experience

Before applying, we were made aware of the fact that the internship would be reading and writing intensive, and the research work required would be evaluated according to certain academic standards and parameters. 

We thus had an opening webinar conducted on the basics of academic research and were guided through the various research tools available online. We were also taught how to operate databases efficiently and format documents in accordance with several citation styles. Professor Dipika Jain, director of CJLS introduced us to the overall ambitions and aims of the Center and assigned us to our respective mentors. 

The internship branches out mainly into three sub-tasks, that is, involvement in research projects, attending scholar talks and webinars and third, participating in weekly book discussions. A drawback I had imagined to be caused by the pandemic was the lack of human connect and a degree of alienation one would feel while interning online.

However, CJLS covered this lacking up perfectly by keeping the correspondence by mail limited and making the process of reaching out to our mentors informal and highly spontaneous. Hence, none of us found the personal touch and focused guidance of a mentor to be missing. My mentors, Professor Anmol Diwan and Professor Joshika Saraf were always a call away and guided us through almost every step of the research work required. 

Instead of being assigned rigid tasks, bi-weekly meetings were held over call to allot work that was malleable and tailor-made according to the abilities of each intern. This to me struck as incredibly important as it implied our unique capabilities were valued and that every intern had an equal role to play in the research and drafting process.

Someone may be good at rudimentary research, another at paraphrasing this raw research into a well-drafted document and another at presenting it in front of an audience. Matching the assigned work with the varied interests of the interns not only made the research process productive and engaging but consequently refining the final output to a considerable extent.

The second sub-task was attending scholar talks and webinars to aid our projects further. Since my research primarily revolved around abortion law and accessibility to healthcare systems, I got the opportunity to attend workshops and talks held by stakeholders and organizations directly impacted and involved in health-related legislations and policies. 

The third task, which was a personal favorite were the weekly book discussion meetings held by our mentors. Other scholars and academicians were also invited. These discussions encouraged active participation and were almost entirely free of hierarchy, and hence interns and mentors could freely voice out their opinions. Over the course of the internship, several works like A People’s Constitution by Rohit De and an academic paper by Sundar Sarukkai were thoroughly read, analyzed and dissected. A lot of brainstorming and critical thinking was involved, and this made these reading sessions unique to CJLS very captivating and enjoyable. 

Another unique perk offered was a detailed and extensive workshop conducted on scholarships offered for pursuing a Master’s in law. The session was interactive, and our mentors and guest speakers offered advice and strategies on various concerns and queries the interns had. 

Online Internships- Personal Strategies to Adapt to the ‘New Normal’

While the previously untraversed concept of online internships did seem daunting at first, my personal strategy was setting up a working routine and sticking to it throughout the day in order to avoid procrastinating over tasks and missing deadlines. In absentia of an official work setting, clearing up a small study desk is enough to induce concentrated working.

I also found it helpful to jot down notes during the various webinars, book discussions and task-allotment meetings to enhance my learning. 

If you happen to be particularly forgetful or generally stressed due to the pandemic, I strongly suggest setting up alarms for deadlines. Learn to fragment each task into smaller, manageable ones.

Another important tip is to not hesitate while reaching out to your mentor and seeking help with research or problems you might be facing due to the pandemic. I was lucky enough to have mentors who were very empathetic and understanding throughout.

Lessons and Broad Takeaways 

The Center for Law, Justice and Society (CJLS), formerly known as Center for Health Law, Ethics and Technology (CHLET) is a research center that aims to bring together the disciplines of law and humanities in order to produce academic research that is community oriented and deeply connected to the various grassroot issues faced by modern society.

It is committed to the cause of social justice and giving voice to the marginalized across South Asia and aims to link the word of law to the broader civil society. Hence, not only is the research work on marginalized communities, but a substantial amount comes directly from working with them and prioritizing their experiences and inputs during the empirical research carried out. 

It connects policy research and professional advocacy to grassroots activism. In fact, the biggest lesson I learned as a first-year intern at the Center was realizing how inseparable and codependent these three are on each other for the upliftment of the marginalized and the silenced. 

One often hears how authoritative legal texts must be in essence for the people, of the people and by the people. I personally believe that law should always be viewed as something transformative, alive and ever-evolving and thus, critical thinking and the art of asking questions must be fostered in order to bridge gaps and break barriers.

Only through multidisciplinary research and intensive dialogue can the legal community effectively “demystify” the law, that is make it more accessible and within the reach of the common masses. Hence, research centers like the CJLS that orient themselves with community projects are the need of the hour for legal and judicial systems and the nation as a whole. 

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Disclaimer: Internship experiences are opinions shared by individual law students and tend to be personal and subjective in nature. The internship experiences shared on Lawctopus are NOT Lawctopus' official views on the internship.

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