I have said this in almost all my posts on internships that one needs to have a rough idea of what she is going to do after graduation. It does not have to be a bulls-eye approach. Even charging in the correct direction can be considered a good position. However, after everything you plan and do, there is a chance you end up being clueless about your career at the end of your law school or even later.
It is in those moments that you need to remember that they don’t define you, your choices do. You can choose to sit and whine about not making a choice sooner or you can get up, dust yourself and make a choice. It might be late to start but it is better than not starting at all.
Coming back to brass tacks, there are two basic types of litigation internships.
- The first type is when a law student either does not intern at all or has visited the office in that duration.
- The second type is when a law student reached court before the advocate (and the judge), ran from court to court bearing files and documents, stayed after hours at the office preparing for the next day.
The first type is also seen in a few law firm internships but majorly is a classic example of (sadly) the popular form of litigation internships. The second type drains you, trains you and transforms you. However, it is important that you learn everything that there is to learning before your third year starts so that by the end of the third year you can start contributing to the office.
Courts: Decide whether your litigation goals reside in your hometown or a big metro like Delhi. Whatever you decide, intern in that city. When you do, know the courts. Not just how many there are or where they are but how to get to them.
You should be able to know the routes which do not have traffic so as to reach when you’re in a hurry. Before your third year starts, you should be able to answer roughly how many courts are there in your city and inside those court campuses, how many courtrooms exist.
Questions like the filing counter, AHLMAD room, where to get revenue/welfare stamps, which notary to approach if you want your work to be completed within minutes, how much do you pay to get an affidavit notarized, how many buildings are there in the court campus, when do the counters open and when do they close? should be on your tongue.
The answer to these and a lot more should be a no brainer to you. It can only be done if you have spent your time in the streets (gettin all gangsta), it’s called learning from experience. Better to learn all this while in your second year than after you graduate and be laughed at.
Lingo: In the time of your internship, you should learn to talk like a lawyer and understand their language. Sounds crazy right? They speak Hindi or English and everybody can understand these languages.
Before you jump to conclusions, if you haven’t noticed, visit a courtroom, preferably a high court and sit through a hearing since morning to evening whilst making notes. At the end of the day, judge yourself on the basis of how much you were able to understand.
Mostly, words like mentioning, rejoinder, reply etc do not make sense to a second-year intern in the court. What makes it even tougher is the volume and speed which judges and advocates speak. Especially judges, mostly every HC has the infrastructure to support a mic and speakers for every judge but they seldom use it.
If you stand near the big table where the advocates whose cases are next sits, you will fall within the hearing range of what the judge says. If you were sent to know what happened in a particular case, the judge said something and you could not understand, this will not end up to be a very pleasant day at the office.
Drafting: You are in your second year, there will be voices who tell you there is a long way before you learn all the necessary laws and then go for drafting knowledge. You need to SHUT those voices out of your head.
There is no correct time to learn to draft, the earlier is the best. At this stage, you should be aware of the following forms of documents
- Legal Notice
- Written Statement
- Basic Contract
- Bail Application
- SLP (format and articles)
Some of the readers may think that these documents are drafted by the experienced advocates, how can a second-year intern draft these documents. Let me assure you, all it takes is a couple of reads of a sample document, reading of a few provisions of law, format and understanding of the subject of the case.
Drafting is story-telling, once the front page and the formalities are over, there is no fixed way of writing a plaint. For eg: you may give titles to all your paragraphs in a plaint and it won’t be a wrong format. Some judges might appreciate since it decreases their work.
When I say you should be aware of drafting these documents, I do not mean expertise. It takes years of practice to perfect and art and there is still room for improvement.
The one thing you should be aiming for is that once you draft a document, it gets filed in a court without any objections, whenever objections come in your draft, go and clear it yourself.
Second-Year interns should know the following things about the above-mentioned documents
- Meaning of these documents
- When and why are they filed
- Format of the draft for courts (fonts, page type, page size etc)
- The approximate ideal size of the draft
- Where, when and how to file
When you frequent the courts for a period of a two-month internship. You should be familiar with a few people from the court who always prove to be valuable.
- The photocopy guy: He is the person who saves you when you urgently need a copy of a document and somebody came to get 6 copies of a particular draft to serve the state.
- The Ahlmad: Think of this man as the gatekeeper of all that you seek in the court. Anything that happens in the court is documented. Whether it is the cause list or the orders.
Who attended a hearing and who appeared? All the answers are documented. These documents rest with the Ahlmad in the Ahlmad room. This is a record room. If you know the guy or have good terms it can make your life a lot easier, and if he dislikes you the complete opposite can happen very easily.
- The filing counter staff: This person can shut the doors ten minutes before and can even accept a document half an hour later than the time mentioned on the board. It is HIS discretion. If you have good terms with this man, there are good chances your office is happy with you.
Well, also it would be awesome if you know the Judge herself but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
Remember, the internships you do beyond your third year will define you, focus on being someone who has already learnt what others don’t even know about.
The seniors often tell the juniors: First you learn then you earn. Make sure you learn most of it so that you earn soon enough.