Year when interned: Third year
Duration of the internship: 6 weeks
Procedure adopted for applying: Placement Committee
Type of internship: High Court and Supreme Court (mainly)
Number of days per week: 6
Office timings: 9:30 AM (sharp) to 10/11 PM
Whether the office was strict about timings and number of working days in a week: Yes
Rating on 10: 9
Experience: I interned with Mr. Sidharth Luthra, Senior Counsel, largely at the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court at the end of my third year. It seemed almost a natural progression as I had an interest in criminal law for some time and had worked in Mumbai (my home-city) with some criminal lawyers before in the trial courts and the Bombay High Court. I had heard some glowing reviews about Mr. Luthra’s chambers so I applied through my college placement committee and was selected for a 6 week internship.
On my first day, I reached his office at Defence Colony, much before anyone else as I wasn’t exactly sure how long it would take from my PG accommodation. It was initially a bit disappointing as Mr. Luthra was out of town and none of the administrative staff seemed to know what to do with interns. (They are quite a jovial bunch once you get to know them, but very skeptical of interns at the start). When Mr. Luthra’s juniors came in (a mix of national law schools, and some from regional law colleges), the legal work for the day started and gradually each of us was busy doing something or the other. After that, the work generally never stopped. This was an extremely demanding internship, so I would not suggest it to someone who wants to enjoy their vacations in Delhi. As one of Mr. Luthra’s juniors put it, “In litigation, there are no Sundays.”
Interns usually sit in a small but very well-stocked library which contains most of the books, journals and case reporters necessary as well as some interesting books and articles on Jurisprudence. This room also doubles up as the lunch room for the juniors in the office, which is generally a good time to chat informally with them (probably the only time as the workload during the rest of the day is pretty hectic). Each intern is assigned to a senior in the chamber and each senior works along with some junior for a specific case.
Therefore, as an intern, you generally work under a specific senior in the chamber and do miscellaneous tasks given by others when free. More often than not, you are part of the case at every stage.
Interns have two kinds of work i.e. in court and in the chambers. Work in the chambers involves everything from photocopying cases and numbering pages to researching on case-laws and attending client conferences. In court too the work is finding and photocopying cases and attending court hearings and briefing the senior handling the case you are working on. Often there are parallel proceedings in different cases in different courts/courtrooms. Therefore, you must keep your immediate boss informed at all times.
Don’t take court work lightly as Mr. Luthra himself will ask you once every few days what cases you saw in court that day and what happened. There is also a lot of leg-work in court and most often it is very urgent which involves running (and I’m not joking, I wore out a good pair of shoes in 6 weeks) to the library to get a photocopy of a case around the time the matter has been called out or probably to do some quick research in the Court library. Perhaps the only exception to attending the court proceedings is when you are required to stay back in the office or in the court library to research or find and photocopy cases. Another is not having made your court entry passes on time. (Not looked upon kindly. Go with a few passport size photos on the very first day itself.)
Work is the focal point of the chambers and all other factors are ancillary. Be on your toes at all times, think quick, and have a pocket diary with you at all times to scribble stuff in. The experience in the chambers is great for those who like the rough and tumble of the courts. The hours are long, the work isn’t the easiest sort interns can get and it is demanding both physically and mentally demanding. But the working environment is good and the people are generally quite committed. Mr. Luthra pays personal attention to each intern and how he/she is doing at the internship, so be alert.
The downsides may be having to see your college-mates lounging around on the Supreme Court balconies sipping on the cold coffee from the 1st floor canteen (its good, try it!) as you are running with several case citations from court-room to court-room. Another is a limited trial court exposure. While I did get an opportunity to visit the sessions court a number of times, it would be advisable to work at least once before with someone who works almost exclusively in the trial courts.
If asked to describe the internship in one word, I would say “dynamic”. This applies to Mr. Luthra himself, the work environment in his chambers, the experience in courts. There is no remuneration for this internship other than self-satisfaction. All in all, it’s a great experience if you are interested in litigation and are willing to work with dedication for a few weeks.
Any other information: It’s a wonderful internship for those interested in litigation, especially on the criminal side. Balance is tilted towards the appellate side rather than criminal trials.
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Picture from here.