In this blog post, Akanksha Misra, of Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA discusses the basics a law student needs to know before doing an internship in litigation.
Before doing an internship, there are certain things that law students need to be well aware of. There are students who go forward with their internship without knowing the basics which gives them a hard time when they are struck with various doubts and as the time goes by it only makes it troublesome. So it is always better to catch up with the necessary information which would only make your internship smoother and without burden. This information consists of the working of the court, as well as about your personal goals and reasons for opting for the internship.
The following points need to be kept in mind by any law student intending to work at a district court-
1. Basic Substantive And Procedural Laws
Before the internship begins, it is important to have some knowledge about the Procedural Law- the procedures of the court, that is, the methods, practice and procedure followed by the courts for cases. This is a step by step process which determines the procedure of all the lawsuits and how a case is to proceed in order to achieve the justice desired. For example- Criminal Procedure Code, Civil procedure Code, Evidence Act. An intern needs to be aware of the working of the court and the format of the proceedings such as filing of a plaint, Vakalatnama, written statement, replication, the framing of issues and final hearing and so on.
Substantive Law also needs to be taken into account where the student needs to go through the statutory law which defines the rights, duties and liability of the people. It is generally concerned with the facts of the given cases and thus helps in either helping or suing somebody. The rights and wrongs of the cases are measured which later helps to decide the case. Indian Contract Act, 1872 and Indian Penal Code, 1860 are some substantive laws. Knowing a few basics of these are essential to understand and aid the learning of a law student to know.
2. Hierarchy And Structure
The judiciary in India follows a vertical system of administering justice. The court hierarchy begins with the Supreme Court at the top, followed by the High Court at the state level and District Courts at the district level & other judicial bodies.
The apex court in the hierarchy is the Supreme Court of india located in New Delhi. It is the highest judicial forum and the final court of appeal. It also acquires the power of constitutional review. Citizens can directly approach the court for any violation of their fundamental rights. Articles 124 to Article 147 fixes the jurisdiction and composition of the SC. It enjoys power in form of various jurisdiction- original, appellate and advisory jurisdiction. This court consists of the Chief Justice of India and 30 sanctioned other judges.
Followed by the Supreme court, each Indian State has its own High Court. They are governed by Article 141 of the Constitution of India. There are 24 high courts in India which take care of their region. The appointment of judges of HC is being executed by the President of India with the consultation of the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of the respective High Court and the governor or the lieutenant governor. The number of judges in High Court is mainly dependent on the higher number of either the average of an organization of main cases for the last years as per the average nationally calculated or the average rate of main cases disposed of per judge per year in the respective high court.
There are various levels involved in the structure of a district court. There are different courts involved based on the nature of the case- District and Sessions, where for the civil cases the court is called the District Court, and for the criminal cases, it is called Court of Sessions. The District and Sessions Judge is referred to as the District judge when presiding over a Civil case and Sessions Judge when taking over a criminal case. Below the court of the District Judge are the courts of Sub-judge, Additional Sub-Judge and, Munsif Courts, which are located in the sub-divisional and district headquarters. Most of the cases are filed in the Munsif Court. On the other hand, the courts below the Sessions court are that of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) and Judicial Magistrate (Second Class).
The Courts have been categorized on the basis of various types of jurisdiction such as-
- Subject Matter Jurisdiction– Only the courts dealing with the said subject can deal with such cases. For example- Family Court is competent to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law.
- Territorial Jurisdiction– This type of jurisdiction refers to the court’s authority and power over cases and events arising in or involving persons residing within a particular geographical territory. For example- there are three District level courts in the Delhi region- Patiala Court, Karkardooma and Tis Hazari. These courts are on a horizontal level, i.e., have the same powers but are divided territory wise. Cases pertaining to South Delhi, New Delhi and West Delhi go before Patiala House, North Delhi cases to the Tis Hazari and East Delhi cases to Karkardooma.
- Pecuniary Jurisdiction– Pecuniary jurisdiction refers to the ability of a Court to hear matters depending upon the valuation of a particular case. This jurisdiction divides the court on a vertical basis. Currently, suits amounting from Rs. 1 to Rs. 20,00,000 lie before the district court. Above this amount, the suits lie to the High court.
- Original Jurisdiction and Appellate Jurisdiction- Original Jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time whereas Appellate Jurisdiction refers to the power of a high court in order to review a lower court’s decision. In case of district courts, they exercise the original and appellate jurisdiction in the civil and criminal cases arising in their district. Appeals from its subordinate courts lie to the District Court. Article 226 of the Constitution of India vests in the High Court the power to issue writs for the restoration of fundamental rights. It also extends to the matters of admiralty, probate, matrimonial and contempt of cases. On the other hand, the Supreme Court exercises original jurisdiction exclusively to hear the cases of disputes between the Central Government and State Government or the interest of the States.
4. Courts and few things to know!
Supreme court is known for its professional and cordial environment. There is a whole different pride while walking into the lanes of this top court which receives cases with more intense nature. Anyone looking forward to a future in litigation wishes to practice at the Supreme Court of India because there is an honour that comes along with it. While interning here, one would thoroughly enjoy observing the proceedings and getting to know the judges’ response to the advocate’s argument.
For those intending to intern at the Supreme Court should know that there are two types of advocates on can intern under- Advocate on record (AOR) and Senior Advocate (SR). There are also different ways to apply to them, either through applying for it directly (mail or visit) or personal contact. It is also important for one to know that securing an internship under an AOR is comparatively easier than a Senior Advocate. This is because SRs are generally busier due to a number of cases and there is usually no vacancy so if one is hoping to intern under them, it is better to apply 6 months to even a year in advance.
There is not much difference between interning at the Supreme Court or High court and it is similar in a lot of ways. It is a magnificent and an ever vibrant experience to intern at the High Court. It is necessary to complete all the required formalities to avail the monthly pass and conform to the protocol. The official timings of the high courts are from 10 AM to 5 PM. One of the biggest advantages of interning here is that it helps in learning the varied skills of advocacy by observing some of the top advocates put forward their arguments. One may also get to interact with the lordship which would help understand their perspective and gain a judicial insight.
From my personal experience, most district courts do not offer the best work environment and you would wonder where you have arrived. There are endless chambers in a line of various advocates. Surrounding the chambers are roadside stalls of typists, notary, stationers, etc. Inside the court building, one would come across families waiting for the court proceedings of their loved ones to begin, police officers taking criminals in handcuffs, and of course advocates with their case files and other documents in their black coats. There is a distinct uniqueness to the place as most are in a rush and others waiting patiently for the seemingly never-ending court proceedings. There are many judges who are very hardworking and dedicated but there are also those who take frequent leaves and thus shift the court hearings to a future date.
Opportunity is often lost for networking due to the absence of fellow interns unless one is interning under a very sought after advocate. But of course, during the internship, one would connect with advocates and judges who would offer a lot to learn from. One’s internship experience would depend a great deal on the advocate they are interning under. It means whatever the intern is going to learn is from the sole advocate. If the advocate is encouraging and helps you know the basic things in a positive manner, it is going to be a great experience for you. But if quite the contrary, it can be very unfulfilling and major chunk of time would be consumed in just observing the court proceedings and reading of cases. Thus, the basic knowledge of the procedural and substantive law is necessary for the interns to know about.
The working of most district courts in India is in the State’s regional language except in the courts of Delhi. This may be difficult in the learning process for some interns as the technical law terminologies may seem hard in the regional language.
5. Personal Goals And Reasons
The important thing to know for every intern is to know why one wants to do a litigation internship. Reasons may differ from learning the law from the bottom level (in case of district court) to just securing an internship because it is needed. But before any internship, one must clearly define their goals and why they intend to intern at the court. For the first litigation internship, a district court is the best place because you can learn the reality of the law and can get to know the journey of the cases from the beginning and how to go all the way up. Internships help one understand the types of cases that are dealt with, their nature and the obstacles faced by advocated to get the best results out of the trial for their client. One would understand the hierarchy of the courts and their working, the attitude of the judges while dealing with the cases.
How to prepare for a litigation internship?
The importance of a litigation internship cannot be denied. It is of utmost value as it helps in gaining practical knowledge and insight into the legal world. As discussed, it is always better to know a few basics of what we want to move forward with and as in our case- a litigation internship. The best way to prepare for your internship is by gaining the fundamental knowledge of that field and this can be achieved by doing online courses.
How do Online Courses help in the preparation?
With the advent of technology, the ways of imparting education have changed immensely. There are now creative ways to help in the learning process of an individual and help them get well educated with great knowledge. The online courses are popular because they use creative ways to aid learning which eventually makes learning enjoyable. One also get to learn all they need from the finest in the industry equipped with decades of professional experience which is a big advantage because the knowledge and perception they provide is invaluable. Along with this, one learns all the critical skills with regular tests, case studies, and practical legal insights.
Which Online Courses will benefit law students looking forward to an internship?
There are various online courses offered by top universities and organizations. Some of them have been mentioned below-
- Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws by Lawsikho
The Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration and Business Laws course is an online 12-month long immersive program designed by National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS), Kolkata and iPleaders to equip you with practical skills for the world of corporate law. This course is co-created, reviewed and constantly improved by an industry-academia panel. This course would build your ability to write and communicate in a way that showcases your expertise, expands your network and impresses recruiters. This course would help one help in the area of business litigation.
To know more about this course,
- LawSikho Diploma in Entrepreneurship Administration & Business Laws | Fee: INR 20,000 | Course Duration: 1 Year | Seats: 20 | To enroll: click here.
- LawSikho Diploma in Cyber Law, Fintech & Technology Contracts | Fee: INR 15,000 | Course Duration: 1 Year | Seats: 20 | To enroll: click here.
- LawSikho Diploma in M&A, Institutional Finance & Investment Laws (Including PE and VC Transactions) | Fee: INR 20,000 | Course Duration: 1 Year | Seats: 20 | To enroll: click here.
- LawSikho Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation & Dispute Resolution | Fee: INR 20,000 | Course Duration: 1 Year | Seats: 20 | To enroll: click here.
- LawSikho Diploma in Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Laws | Fee: INR 15,000 | Course Duration: 1 Year | Seats: 20 | To enroll: click here.
How to ace your litigation internship?
In case you have the desire in you to make the most of every internship and show your amazing skill set, then it is possible to achieve through the ‘Ace Your Internship’ Certification Course. This course is made to help the law students achieve and succeed in the area of Corporate law and will enable them to secure corporate internships or get ahead in corporate litigation. This programme would help you acquire all the skills and knowledge base to reach great heights in the corporate area of practice. The course has been intelligently structured with the huge amount of detail from drafting an effective CV to the interview preparation- All in one! There will be weekly exercises to help you tackle the problem areas and get better in just five months.
The biggest advantage of this course is that it would help you perform a lot better than other interns. This would make a huge difference in the beginning of your professional career by helping you perform extraordinarily well so that you can get a job offer.
This is a highly recommended course, so do read more about it here.
Top 5 Litigation Internship in Delhi
1. Karanjawala & Co.
It is an eminent litigation firm based in Delhi. It is best known for its litigation work but has other practice areas as well such as Arbitration, Dispute Resolution and, Transactional and Corporate Advisory.
Some of the tasks for the interns would involve case law research and drafting a written statement, notices, memorandum of appeal, etc. As it is a litigation firm, interns would get to observe courtroom matters as well as the corporate culture. The firm takes up civil as well as criminal cases.
To apply, one can send their CV at [email protected]
The firm usually offers a stipend of Rs. 5000/- for a duration of 4 weeks.
2. Maheshwari and Co.
Maheshwari and Co. is a full-service law firm in Delhi. It is one of the fastest growing and leading Litigation and Dispute Resolution law firms. It has the experience in all types of Civil, Criminal and Corporate Litigation.
They have a structured internship programme The main tasks of the interns would generally involve law research.
Interested students can send their resume along with cover letter to the firm at [email protected]. Apply at least 45-30 days in advance from the date of commencement of the internship. Read more about their internship programme here.
There is no stipend offered as it is an unpaid internship for undergraduate, graduate and doctorate students.
3. Senior Advocate Harish Salve
Harish Salve is a senior counsel at the Supreme Court of India and a former Solicitor General of India. He is one of the premier lawyers and has also been awarded one of India’s highest accolades, the Padma Bhushan.
It is a great place to intern at where an intern would get to research and take notes of the court proceedings. It can be an of an immense learning experience as one would be exposed to some of the high profile cases in the country and would also get to see the strong work ethic of a top lawyer of the country!
To apply for the internship, mail your CV along with the cover letter to [email protected].
4. Chamber of Salman Khurshid
Salman Khurshid is a highly respected and renowned Senior Advocate. Chamber of Salman Khurshid was grounded in 2014 which has a team of associates who are highly efficient at providing legal representation across wide jurisdictions. The chamber deals with all kinds of matters pertaining to Supreme Courts to the lower courts.
The Chamber’s internship programme aims to provide students with the skill set to achieve successful legal career and become highly abled law practitioners. Interns are given work according to their area of interest. Their main tasks include research work pertaining to Constitutional Law to Company Law. There are briefing sessions convened by Mr. Khurshid where interns are also given a chance to make an argument and validate their stands. Mooting sessions are also conducted for interns to gain a trial experience of the court proceedings. Apart from this, interns also attend the court proceeding and get to observe the amazing opportunity to see Mr. Salman Khurshid argue.
For the purpose of applying, one can send their CV at [email protected]
A Stipend of Rs. 10,000/- is provided immaterial to the duration.
5. Chambers of Advocate Ram Jethmalani
Ram Jethmalani is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India. He has also served as the Union Law Minister and as Chairman of the Bar Council of India. As a lawyer, he has represented a wide number of cases which has raised controversy as well as earned accolades.
Main tasks for the interns include research work on matters listed for the following day. Also, conferences take place where the arguments to be taken up are presented and interns are required to attend the same. One would also get to see Mr. Jethmalani argue cases and the hard work & efforts that he puts in for the cases.
One can apply by sending their CV to [email protected]
Top 5 Litigation Internship in Mumbai
1. Dinesh D. Tiwari & Associates
Dinesh Tiwari & Associates, was established in the year 2008, with the objective of accomplishing its client’s expectations by targeting excellence in the quality of its work. At present, the firm is dealing in a variety of Civil & Criminal Litigation not only in Mumbai but all over the country.
Main tasks for the interns would involve drafting, observing court proceedings of High Court of Bandra, Metropolitan Magistrate Court, etc., attending client meetings and also visit Police Stations and Crime Investigation Department.
To apply, send a mail with your CV at [email protected]
One can expect a stipend here.
2. Kanga & Co.
Kanga & Co. was established in 1890. It is a highly respected and professionally managed law firm with its base in Downtown Mumbai. It has a large and active litigation department which has the experience in handling a variety of cases including both commercial and constitutional matters. It also works in the areas of direct and indirect taxation, real estate and banking.
Interns should expect reading work, drafting and lots of research work. Interns are also given the experience to handle and go for court hearings and also attend meetings of the client and advocates which provides a great exposure. It is a terrific place to learn if you are really interested.
To intern, send your internship application to [email protected]
Short term interns may get a stipend of Rs. 1500 for an internship period of 1 month whereas long-term interns may receive about Rs. 5000.
3. Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (SAM & Co)
SAM & Co is one of India’s leading full-service law firms. It has a pan-India presence and has been at the top of major headline transactions and litigation in all segments of the industry. It has a strong competition practice with the track record of successfully helping their clients through their largest transactions and high stake litigation. The firm’s experience also covers a wide range of areas relating to solvency and bankruptcy cases. It also offers a broad range of advisory and litigation services in the areas of direct as well as indirect taxes.
Interns get to work on write-ups, reading case files, briefing, researching along with some clerical work. Court visits are seldom so one should not expect much of that.
They generally take interns for a period of 2 weeks.
Apply by sending a mail along with CV at [email protected]
4. Brus Chambers
Situated in the coastal city of Mumbai, Brus chambers is a top tier law firm in India known for its best shipping work since 2010. It is recognized by several international bodies as the ‘Best Shipping Law Firm’ and is preferred by international and local clients. It also has a strong commercial litigation which includes all contractual and commercial disputes. It is known for its aggressive and result oriented litigation but it also encourages out of court settlements.
The tasks for the interns mostly includes of getting familiar with the shipping laws which would help to draft and relate to cases, proofread legal documents, attend conferences and court matters with partners. One would get a good learning in the area of PIL, Company and Commercial matters by interning here.
To apply, send them a mail with CV at [email protected]. It may be followed by a telephonic interview which would involve questions on past experience and area of interest.
A stipend may be given.
5. Chambers of Mihir Desai, Bombay HC
Mihir Desai is a well-known face in the criminal law world. He is a human rights lawyer specializing in cases involving mass murders, riots, fake encounters, police brutality and genocide probes. He has been practicing criminal matters at the Bombay High Court, Mumbai and the Supreme Court of India. He is also the co-founder of Indian People’s Tribunal and Human Rights Law Network(HRLN).
Interns are allotted work according to their area of interest and doubts are thoroughly cleared by junior lawyers. Mr. Desai also reviews the progress of each intern. Main tasks of the interns would include drafting reports & petitions, research case laws, observe court proceedings and attend client counselling sessions.
Should an intern expect a stipend?
The stipend is dependent on the policy of that organization or institution that one intends to intern under. There are paid as well as unpaid internships but it should not be the ultimate factor for securing an internship. Internships should solely be based on your area of interest and the valuable learning it would provide.
One cannot deny the importance of a litigation internship. It is one of the most rewarding and helpful experience as one learns the intricacies of law and it aids their learning process immensely. Just working and observing can help one to learn all about the procedure and functioning of the law and can accommodate one with the realities of the legal world. It is going to be a rewarding and great learning experience so definitely aim for an internship in litigation.