‘Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of all things and no good thing ever dies’.
That was the one thought that kept replaying itself in my mind as I submitted my application for the internship to the RCC. Staring at me for a couple of seconds, my senior then shook his head, “Why do you keep trying Pranjal? You’ll never beat the 4th years. You’re in for another disappointment”.
And he was right. Rejection after rejection. Politely worded ‘no-thank-you-but-wishing-you-the-best-letters’ had flooded my inbox from firms all over the country.
And here I was, taking a chance at a tier 1 firm and, in fact one of the fastest growing firms in India: Platinum Partners. I was competing against my seniors with far more research background than I had, which is why it came as a great surprise two weeks later when my friend knocked on the door and pulled me into a hug.
“Platinum ko diamond mil gaya”, he laughed as he let go of me. I couldn’t believe it. I had been shortlisted along with the topper of my batch for this internship. How? What? Why? Those were questions that popped into my mind but I brushed them aside, too happy to question such an opportunity.
Without wasting anymore time, I jumped into preparing for my upcoming interview, which was coincidentally a day before my midterms and brushed through corporate and mercantile laws. As advised by Pratibhhanu, my senior: basically everything from my CV.
Finally at 5 pm, two days later, the phone rang. This was it. I took a deep breath and answered it. “Good evening Pranjal. Is this a good time”, a deep voice asked from the other end.
And thus began a nerve-wracking fifteen minutes filled with pacing around and trying my best to handle the technical questions he was firing at me. “What’s the difference between license and pledge? Hypothecation and lease? How do you invoke a force majeure clause? Differentiate the types of mortgages for me!” And finally “Thank you Pranjal. That will be all.”
Hanging up the phone, I sat down on my bed, glumly staring outside my window. I really hadn’t expected these types of questions and his tone had given me no indication of what he thought of my responses.
Disappointment seeped through my bones as I convinced myself to forget about this opportunity, a lost deal. In fact, I was surer of not being taken than I could have been for saying ‘yes I do’ at the altar. Swallowing hard, I lifted myself and threw my energy into preparing for my exams. At least, something had to go right.
But remember what I had said about hope? It’s a tiny thread, which I cling onto and when they sent me an acceptance email a few weeks later, I decided. ‘You’re going to do this well Pranjal. You’re going to get the best out of this internship.’
It was the same thought I had two months later as I stood admiring the twin towers of Peninsula Business Park in Lower Parel, a day before my internship. It wasn’t an easy win and I had no intention of letting it go to waste.
The next morning, I entered this building, excitement and nervosity mingled in together as I waited for the head of administration to show me around. Within a few minutes, she came out with a warm smile and ushered me into the Platinum offices.
Her bubbly personality toned down that nervousness as she showed me the different facilities. There was a decent library, a spacious conference room, and my-oh-my but that pantry was stocked with enough snacks and hot drinks to alleviate any mid-day hunger pangs.
I was also introduced to the people. “You ready to work hard, Pranjal”, one of them asked and I responded with a perfectly punctuated “Yes sir!” to which he shook his head and said “No sirs. No ma’ams. We’re all equal here.”
Some time later, I met the head of internships and recruitment, a rather quick and straightforward man who explained to me what the firm dealt with after which I was made to sign a confidentiality agreement, (a strict no-no on insider trading).
I was given my access card, which served as an annoying little key to every other room in this office. I needed to use the restroom? Access card. I wanted to eat? Access card. A reference material at the library? Dear old access card would take me into that room. But of course let us not dwell on the nettlesome little tidbits.
Moving on, I happened to meet the managing partner of the firm! In my last internship, three of the partners probably did not even know of my existence, and here the managing partner was talking to me. In fact, over the next few days, I came to the realization that he was probably the happiest man of this firm. He was Alfred and his firm, Bruce Wayne.
Every day I’d see him greet his employees, ask them about their health and family. There was a sense of pride that shone in his eyes as he talked to everyone. No one was beneath him. Every now and then, he’d cross paths with me and ask if I had enough work to do and if not, would immediately get someone to keep me busy.
Speaking of the work I was given, most of it was research-oriented and some of the research questions were quite challenging.
‘Can an official liquidator challenge the validity of an arbitral award?
Make an exhaustive note on all the statues and orders, which regulate the manufacture, distribution and export of anti-cancer drugs.
Can a creditor, after supporting a winding up petition by way of an affidavit, file a subsequent winding up petition if the first winding up petition has already been advertised and admitted?’
I also got an opportunity to proofread an offer document, which made me realize how intricately complex the real corporate world is and how different it is from what we are told within the confines of the classroom.
Weekly meetings were held during which recent legal developments were discussed. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by the fast pace everyone was moving at. Someone would always throw in a question, which would then make me wonder how he or she could even come up with such a brilliant analysis.
But soon, I overcame my shyness and began asking my doubts and started clarifying a stance I was taking. It wasn’t just learning the laws here.
I was learning how to interact, how to work as a team. I was observing the people around me, reading into how their co-operation helped them rise so quickly as a young firm.
Once during a meeting, I had misinterpreted a case study. My face burned with embarrassment as I apologized profusely.
But they were kind and reassured me that the sky was not going to fall and it was only human to err. In fact, the whole point of this internship was to learn. It made me feel warm. I liked these people. I liked how much of a team they made.
Even our lunches were spent together at the central table discussing Luke Skywalker’s appearance in the last twenty seconds of the Star Wars movie, the relevance of Modi’s umpteen foreign trips, Kohli’s gameplay, Haryanvi accents, Jungle-Raj in Bihar, so on and so forth.
Basically, us talking about any and everything made up for mediocre lunch food and I looked forward to every single day of working here although there was a rather peculiar thing that I noticed. The associates didn’t want us working here on weekends.
I had once proposed to come to work on Saturday to finish off an urgent assignment, but they told me, “Work can wait. Weekends can’t. Go enjoy yourself and be back on Monday”. Puzzled as I was, I couldn’t question it.
The one thing which I didn’t like much was that confidentiality worked here at multiple levels. I wasn’t told who the clients were or what the bigger picture of any work was. I had also looked forward to strengthening my drafting skills here, but they don’t give drafting work to interns.
All this confidentiality: it was a precautionary measure and I understood that, however it was quite easy to feel left out. But those times didn’t last long and very soon someone would take you in, treating you as his or her own.
In fact, one of the lawyers even conversed with me in Hindi and while that might sound strange, for the primary medium of communication in this field is English, his talking in Hindi felt home.
Finally, as Christmas approached, the amount of work I started getting reduced as a majority of their clientele was internationally based. On 23th December, I walked into a festively decorated room with little children hopping around and delicious food being served to the firm’s staff and their families.
Office resumed a few days later as usual and finally, it was time for me to leave and believe me when I say that it was at that moment when they had me completely.
Gathered together in the pantry, all the associates stood together, smiling as they made me cut a cake with an, ‘all the best’ message written on it. I stood in a dream state, happily cutting the cake and standing aside as I had assumed the cake would not be vegetarian.
“Have a piece”, the head of administration said. “If at all we’ve learned anything about Pranjal Doshi in this past one month, it’s that he does not eat eggs”. Mind you, there are some firms that don’t even remember your name and here they noticed this ‘teeny-tiny’ detail about me.
An hour later, I was called into the managing partner’s office wherein he presented to me a handsomely summed check. Bear in mind that we had no agreement about a stipend and the amount that was written on it left me dazed. “Sign here, please. For accounting purposes”, he told me and I obeyed, barely able to comprehend what had just happened.
I sat there as a gentleman for the next twenty minutes, discussing my experiences of the internship with him while all along inside my mind, were little fireworks exploding. Shortly thereafter, I bid my farewells to everybody and walked out extremely satisfied.
Now if you ask me what is Platinum, well I’ll tell you that Platinum is when someone goes to Paris, you get dark chocolates. When someone goes to Lonavla, you get strawberries and when someone goes to Pune, you get sweets from German Bakery.
It’s a place that comes as a blow to our country’s conventions that only students from NLUs land up in top-notch jobs, for there were quite a few lawyers in Platinum that were from private and traditional colleges.
In a nutshell, Platinum is for internships, what Nishith Desai is for college research projects, i.e., EVERYTHING.
P.S. – I sincerely thank Minoli Doshi for being with me throughout this avid adventure.
This entry has been submitted for the LexisNexis-Lawctopus Internship Experience Writing Competition 2015-2016. iPleaders is the learning partner for this competition.
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