What I Learnt as an Intern Under An Amazing Advocate At The Supreme Court of India

The law is not what we learn from our books, it is much beyond that. Written by Pallavi Dhok of BHARATI VIDYAPEETH’S NEW LAW COLLEGE, PUNE. If you want to share your law school stories write to [email protected]

The office was located in the old chamber of Supreme Court. There was a space crunch and the office couldn’t accommodate more than 8-10 people at a time. There were 3 associates and 2 clerks to manage the files and other clerical work.

I interned at the Chambers of Dr. J.P.Dhanda for a period of one month. One is expected to work for 5 days a week. One is expected to reach the office by 10:00 a.m. sharp. He is very particular about punctuality. However, there was no fixed time for leaving the office; you can leave if you finish your work early.

The first day of an internship can be a little intimidating for anyone, so was this for me. I was really nervous and didn’t want to screw things up on the very first day. I got this internship through a contact or what we like to call “jugaad.”

However, once I reached the chambers of Dr. J.P.Dhanda, I introduced myself, and he said, “Welcome Puttar! It’s going to be an interesting journey from here on!” and all my fear and nervousness vanished into thin air. He asked a few questions about my college and the subjects that have been covered in my college and what all I learned from my previous internships.

There was one more intern apart from me. On our first day, he introduced us to the kind of work he dealt with and asked us to make ourselves comfortable. He asked us to research on few provisions of the Indian Penal Code. Since, it was our first day we were not given much work and were allowed to leave early.

Since I interned during the vacations of the Supreme Court, we didn’t really get to witness the proceedings of the Hon’ble court. However, we were lucky enough to witness Mr. Dhanda in action. One thing I learned that day was the importance of “quality research work”. It was interesting to see how the tables turned the moment he started quoting relevant case laws. It was astonishing to see that he remembered each and every provision on his fingertips.

The main tasks given to us were mostly research work and preparing briefs of the case.

We were asked to research for judgments/articles/case laws on criminal issues specifically dacoity, assault, murder, robbery, mischief, etc. We were given files to read and get acquainted with the facts of the case. We were asked to prepare briefs of the case supporting them with relevant case laws and judgments. Now, when it comes to looking for case laws we think it is going to be an easy task, but on the contrary it drives you crazy if you don’t know how to use Manupatra or SCC online or other such portals. One should know how to look for case laws using citation and how to refine the search and get the desired results.

There were days when no work was given to us that was when Mr. Dhanda taught us about the basics of law. He taught us how and when a Special Leave Petition is filed, what does Public Interest Litigation mean and who can file it. It was a great opportunity to improve my researching skills and gain knowledge about things that are not really taught in our colleges.

During his free time, Mr. Dhanda used to read the landmark judgments, acts, and amendments and encouraged us to do the same. He believed that learning is a continuous process and one must be curious to learn new things. He encouraged us to ask questions if we didn’t understand something and was ready to clear our doubts.

We were allowed to sit with him during the client meetings. He used to make sure that we get maximum exposure and learn each and everything that is there in the field of law. We were asked to watch the meeting carefully and later explain whatever we understood. He gave us a quick insight about the Indian Penal code, Criminal Procedure Code as well as Civil Procedure Code.

One gets to learn a lot from these client meetings.

One thing you must always remember while dealing with clients is to be always on their side, understand what they are going through and to think from their point of view. Also, to survive in this field one needs to have excellent relations with everyone (even if you don’t like them)

The internship also taught me a great deal of professional ethics. One must sympathize with their clients and make sure that they are satisfied with the work. Working directly under a Supreme Court advocate gives you an opportunity to learn more as you can have his full attention. He advised us on how to deal with clients, how to be professional about it and how to act in front of the Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court.

There were times when I was given clerical work like typing and also, it used to get monotonous as we only got research work related to Criminal matters. However, I was lucky enough to get some drafting work and was asked to file a reply for a matter related to Consumer Protection Act.

One thing that I absolutely loved about this internship was the work environment.

Work environment really matters a lot. If you have cooperative and helpful people around you, it gets easier to get the job done. Most of the work was given to us by Mr. Dhanda himself. He used to make sure that we always have some or the other work to do and was always happy to teach us something new. If you are honestly sincere and hardworking, he makes sure that you get a lot of work. Another good thing about this internship was there was no workload. He believed in getting the work done at your own pace, but if you’re taking your own time you cannot make any mistakes. If you get it wrong, you are asked to do it all over again. The work done should be crisp and quality work.

Dr. J.P. Dhanda is a great source of inspiration. According to him the more we read, the more we learn. He used to share his experiences of how things actually work in the legal world, his struggles and how he became a successful lawyer. There were times when he used to quote Shakespeare in order to keep us motivated. One of the inspirational quotes was: “Ignorance is the curse of God; Knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven”.

The most important thing that I learned during my internship was if you want to extract the most out of your internship, ask for work and don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand something.

People are more than happy to give you work and teach you how it is done. If you wait for work to be given to you, you’ll end up sitting idle and learn nothing. The law is not what we learn from our books, it is much beyond that. Internships are an opportunity to apply the knowledge of the law practically.

Another important lesson that I learned while I was interning under Mr. Dhanda was to have “patience”. As you know, they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It takes time to get to the top. He once said: If you want to get noticed and be successful you must have patience and while you’re at it keep on learning. People are going to tell you that this job is not meant for you, WHY Law? Don’t listen to them. Just do what you got to do, be confident about it and you’ll get there.

It is very important to choose your internship wisely.

If you don’t enjoy the kind of work you are given, it’ll be a waste of both time and energy. If you are interested in litigation, this is the kind of internship that you must go for.

This internship has taught me more than just law. It gave me an exposure to the real side of the law and motivated me to keep on learning. Internships not only give you the practical knowledge, but it also helps you to open the doors of your mind and think in a completely different way. You get to improve your logical, as well as legal reasoning while interning. It is only possible to learn all this during an internship because no one can teach you how to deal with clients or how to sympathize with them; you learn all this only when you start working and dealing with all these issues on your own.

The biggest challenge while interning under a Supreme Court advocate for me was that I had no knowledge about the Criminal Procedure Code or the Civil Procedure code since these subjects were not yet taught to us in our college. Knowing the fact that I had minimal knowledge about the said subjects he kept encouraging me to learn those subjects. The research work made it possible to learn about those subjects and discover more in law.

Internships offer more than what law schools can offer a student.

It provides a person with real life work experience in a prospective career field. It gives you a close look at what you are really getting into, so it is very important to choose an internship which interests you the most. The key to making the most out of an internship is to work to the best of your abilities and you will shine in the world like bright stars in the sky.

“It’s not important what you are underneath, but what you do that defines YOU- Batman.”




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