How to get a job or internship in the chamber of a senior advocate of the Supreme Court
Sanchita AinAdvocate on Record,
Supreme Court of India
I went to study law in AMU. I used to feel anxious thinking if I would find myself equipped enough after five years to compete with the students of other law schools. I was willing to put in efforts. But I did not even know who to reach out to for finding out what students of other law schools were doing.
In my third year, I had applied to many law firms. But they either sent an automated reply asking me to apply again or did not reply. I finally received a reply from a good law firm. On our first day, the interns were asked to meet one of the partners of the firm. The co-interns sitting next to me were from Amity, Noida and DU. I was the only intern who was asked, “Wahan padhai hoti hai?” It was hard to get internships. Through my work during this internship, I not only ensured that students from my university continued to get internships there, I also ensured that nobody from my institution would ever be asked the same question again.
It is possible to counter any factor that’s weighing against you. It can be anything. It may or may not be recognised by people around you or by those who do not face it. All that is required is an intention to do so, the right strategy, and the knowledge about what works and what does not.
When I was applying for these internships, I just knew I had to send a CV and a covering letter. I did not know what would make them impressive. I did not have seniors to guide me. There wasn’t even a culture of applying for internships. Some got it. But they would not say how. Many seniors were themselves struggling in litigation. Many were judiciary aspirants or were interested in academia or they did not know it themselves. There were a few who got good internships and jobs. But those were through references. I had none. I am a first-generation lawyer from a middle-class family. My family did not have any contacts that could have got me an internship, let alone a job.
Yet I got internships under two senior advocates: Mr. Salman Khurshid and Mr. Parag Tripathi (when he was the Additional Solicitor General).
It wasn’t this one internship. In fact, all the internships were life-changing experiences where I managed to cast an impression not only on the lawyers working in the office, but even on the briefing counsels, arbitrators and the lawyers from the other side.
It was because of these internships that I did not have to apply for jobs. I had not even heard the letters PPO together when I was a law student. Yet I never had to appear for an interview. Nobody asked for my CV. I was offered a position immediately after I came back to India after an LLM in the UK. I took almost 3 weeks to accept my first offer. The Advocate-on-Record who offered me this position had seen my work when he was working as a junior counsel in Mr. Parag Tripathi’s chamber. He was very happy when I finally accepted his offer. He said I would be an asset to his office. I too got to work with a lawyer who trusted my ability. His friends and seniors from NLS would ask me to recommend lawyers and they would hire them on my recommendation. I still get juniors from my college placed under various lawyers.
For all those who get frustrated because of nepotism, here’s a story for you. Before I got an internship under Mr. Khurshid, he had come to deliver the Law Day Lecture in our department. One of the professors approached him for his brother’s internship. I saw it from a distance. I knew he would get it. I wished it was that easy for me.
Years later Mr. Khurshid hired this intern’s wife on my recommendation.
How did it happen? It was because he had remembered me for my work during my internship with him. So, after he re-started his practice, he asked me to join him. He told me I could work on my own terms. So initially, I went to assist him only in the evening and would still get paid as much as other juniors. I was offered conveyance when nobody else in the office had the facility. After more than 6 months, I finally agreed to join him full-time.
All this could happen only because I did exceptionally well during the internships. There’s a finish line that everyone crosses in a 100-metre race. Similarly, everyone completes the period of internship and gets a certificate. But that’s more like a participation certificate. Unless you have crossed a certain mark during your internship, a mark only 2 or 3 students cross out of 40 interns in my office, nobody remembers you. All the effort you put in does not count. It may give you a good learning experience. But that is all about it. It requires certain skills that you need to develop even before you go for an internship that determines whether you cross that mark.
Most students see internships as a learning experience.
Many students are eager and looking for ways to impress. But they do not know how to do it.
Many of you put in all your efforts. But you later realise that’s not exactly what we had asked you to do.
Many students think they can show their skills only when they are given ‘real’ work and for them nothing short of drafting a petition is a real work.
If you get to know what would help you to secure a place in a senior advocate’s chamber, if you could find out the strengths you already have and just learn how to put them to use during an internship under a senior advocate, and also get to know what are the strengths you should focus on developing before your internship or during your present job, would it help? If yes, that’s what we are going to do for you during the workshop.
What is that one strength you already have which if used properly can make you stand out in a senior advocate’s chamber?
Building up a reputation starts quite early. It’s not just a name that gets added to your CV that builds your reputation. How you carry yourself during these internships can open up a pool of opportunities for you.
I have seen interns coming with an intention to get a job, very focused to get it, and yet very confused about what to do to get it.
There are others who use a wrong approach or strategy and are disappointed when it does not work out.
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