Name. College. Year of study.
Anshu Raj Singh, Chanakya National Law University, 5th Year
I interned at HRLN after appearing in final semester exams of my 4th year.
Name of the organisation. City. Office Address. How was the office? Team strength.
HRLN is 1.5 km from Jungpura metro station. Rickshaw costs Rs. 20.There are lots of lawyer’s offices nearby and I mostly found some intern for company, walking to our respective offices ,engaged in small talk.
The main office where most interns work is a four storey nondescript building. The office is well furnished although a little cramped. The Reproductive Rights initiative is housed in another building 1 km away. Interns attached to Reproductive Rights initiative worked there.
When I was interning there, around 35 lawyers & social activists were working in the main office. Giving an exact number is not possible as a number of persons, working on some project of HRLN, came and went every day.
Duration of internship.
June 2 – July 1
Application procedure? Internship Contact Details.
Applications for internship has to be sent to [email protected]
It’s better to apply 3 months in advance as there is a lot of rush, both of Indian students as well as foreigners. If you don’t apply 3 months in advance then the only way to get an internship is through recommendation of some social activist or a well- known lawyer.
Duration in weeks. Days of work per week. Timings.
Internship is generally offered for 4 weeks. But, if they like your work, then you can get it extended to 8 or even 12 weeks.
It’s 6 days a week. Saturday is half-day and if your supervisor is not a workaholic (which most are not) then you can leave at 1pm.
Working hours are 9 am to 6 pm. But it doesn’t matter at what time you come, just be in the office before the internship coordinator comes (unluckily, on most days, she is in the office at sharp 9:30).
Lunch hour is between 1 to 2. Interns are free to go out and it doesn’t matter if you come back a little late. Only if there’s a meeting after lunch then must come back before 2 pm.
On most days interns are free to leave by 5:30 pm. Although there are days when, due to some elongated discussion or screening, we had to stay longer. In fact, one day I had to stay till 11pm to draft a petition which was to be filed next day (such situations rarely arose).
First impression, first day, formalities.
First the confession. On the very first day I arrived late and was welcomed with the gentle remainder ‘please be on time’. After that I was sent to the basement meeting area for internship orientation.
After a brief intro of HRLN we were asked to give our choice of HRLN Initiative we would like to work with. Then we were given a office tour and introduced with the employees and other interns. Finally we were attached to different initiatives & supervisors and we started our work.
HRLN is a collective of lawyers & social workers and it tries to bring social change through, both, advocacy campaigns and legal means. As interns we were attached to various initiatives like Women & Children, Criminal Justice etc. Interns were to do the research on current projects being undertaken by these initiatives, prepare draft of petitions for filing in court and accompany the lawyer to the court.
At HRLN there is no discrimination between a first year & fifth year student. If an intern doesn’t know to draft then he will be taught and not reprimanded for his mistake. There was a RTI tutorial for every intern.
After that, every intern was asked to identify an issue and file a RTI application (in the name of his supervisor). Even after the intern leaves the follow up of the application is done and the reply is forwarded to the intern.
Initially I thought that I was supposed to work only with the department I was attached to. But later I realized that I was free to work with other initiatives too. During my 4 weeks there I drafted 4 domestic violence petitions, 2 bail petitions, 1 written statement and a writ petition for PIL against slum demolition.
In addition there were regular documentary screenings. After the screenings, the interns discussed & debated the issues raised amongst themselves and with the lawyers and social activists of HRLN.
We were also taken to advocacy campaigns, field visits and protests. In these campaigns & visits interns got to meet and interact with intellectuals from various fields. I got a chance to meet and talk to Arundhati Roy, Harsh Mander and Aruna Roy among others.
At the end of internship we were asked to prepare a report of our internship work and get the comments of our supervisors on it. There was a rumour among the interns that if you get bad comments then they put it in the certificate. But this rumour can’t be verified as everyone got nice reviews.
Work environment, people
In the orientation we were told to work diligently, maintain strict schedule, finish our work within the stipulated time and avoid gossiping & wastage of time. By seeing the no-nonsense attitude of the internship coordinator I anticipated HRLN to be a creepy place, full with bore people.
But, to my pleasant surprise, it turned out to be opposite. The strict demeanour was only for the orientation. Everyone was smiling and helpful and it didn’t seem that you are at workplace. There was no dress code, except for the days when the intern was supposed to go to court.
An intern was reprimanded only if some urgent work was given to him by some senior advocate and he was found wandering around listlessly. We heard rumours about the peevish nature of senior advocates, but none of the interns, during my stay, had to bear the brunt of it.
Tea was served 10 to 15 times every day. But no food was provided and for lunch we had to either go out or bring lunch with us.
The best things AND the bad things
Best things – Although it’s a NGO you get a lot of legal work. But, unlike most law firms, there is no rebuke on mistake, but only guidance. And in addition to legal work the interns also get to do social work. We were given opportunity to meet the clients, listen & discuss their problems and offer them solution. The smile this brought on their faces is one of the most satisfying feeling I ever had.
For most of the law students social problems are article writing opportunity and nothing else. Going to advocacy campaigns and field visits helps connect with the deprived sections of the society and their problems.
Screenings and debates gave us new insights into social & legal problems, very different from what we get in popular mass media. It opened new vistas for thinking and working on.
There were many interns from foreign countries also working with us. Talks and discussions with them helped break many stereotypes about them and their countries.
Bad things – Too many interns land up at the same time. There is not enough space for so many interns to work together. Moreover, half of the interns have no interest in work but only in internship certificate. Administration is weak and these inters not only waste time themselves but also encourage other interns to dump work and fool around.
Overall, HRLN is a very good experience for anyone interested in working for the poor and downtrodden sections of our society.
No stipend is given. In fact Indian interns have to pay Rs 1000 as internship fee and foreigners have to pay 100 $.
Accommodation etc. What did you to do chill in and around the office and the place of stay?
I stayed at my friend’s flat in Faridabad, so not much idea of accommodation nearby. Some of my co-interns stayed nearby in Jungpura Extn. and Lajpatnagar and it cost them around Rs 6000 for a double seated room.
There is a large Afghani refugee population residing in Jungpura area. Non-vegetarians can go to their food stalls & restaurants and try their food. For vegetarians not many options except a few ‘dhabas’ and usual Mcdonalds, Subway etc.
The dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya and tomb of Humayun are nearby and good place to visit.