An article by Mustafa Zaidi, Final year Law Student, University of Lucknow. If you want to share your law school relate experiences, email them to [email protected] This was first published in A First Taste of Law.
“I hear, and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”
“Internship” is an opportunity offered by an employer to potential employees, called “interns,” to work at a firm for a fixed, limited period of time. Interns are usually undergraduates or students, and most internships last for any length of time between one week and 12 months.
An “internship” is a method of on-the-job training for white-collar and professional careers. Internships for professional careers are similar in some ways to apprenticeships for trade and vocational jobs, but the lack of standardization and oversight leaves the term open to broad interpretation. Interns may be college or university students, high school students, or post-graduate adults. These positions may be paid or unpaid and are usually temporary.
Generally, an internship consists of an exchange of services for experience between the students and an organization. Students can also use an internship to determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts or gain school credit. Some interns get placement in the organization / firm they have interned in. This can be a significant benefit to the employer as experienced students often need little or no training when it comes to regular employment. Unlike a trainee program, employment at the completion of an internship is not guaranteed.
The internship is one the most important thing in a law student’s life.
Good grades and knowledge of the law are indispensable things, but internships are as important as good marks and knowledge
Law is the most diverse field of study and practice in the universe that is developing and expanding day by day. To keep a person up to date with the changing laws, one need to take a close look at the practical side of those laws and that practical side can only be looked into by closely reading, understanding and interpreting the laws.
One can read the laws from books, over the internet. But being a student problem arises in understanding and applying these laws. One can’t just understand and interpret these complex laws on his own. To do this, the student needs a mentor who is well versed with these laws theoretically and practically. Here comes the role of internships. We all know it’s the court of the country which interpret the laws and to accomplish these task lawyers play a very vital role. Lawyers and advocates are best suited to teach law students the practical nuances of laws of the country and by internship a law student achieves the same.
What did you learn in your last internship? Share with us.
Internship makes a student more serious and responsible because a lawyer’s irresponsible act has some very serious consequences. In an internship, a student learns how to work as a team and cope with the pressure of completing the task without flaws. Internship makes a student comfortable with the working of the court, offices and corporate houses because believe me it’s not easy for anyone to sit and start working at the place where you are uncomfortable. All I can say is that it’s not a law school which makes a student a lawyer or attorney, but the experience gained by him in any internship that makes him a lawyer or attorney or advocate.
Like any other law student, my life at law school is really happening and the best thing happened with me while I was in a law school is internships. Yes I was nervous to face the courtroom, Yes I was nervous to sit and work in a corporate office, Yes I was nervous to explain my point and research work with a lawyer but now I am not, it is just because of those internships I did at different judicial, quasi-judicial organizations and at corporate and litigation firms.
I have learned so many things from an internship that it’s really hard, even for me to pen down those things because now when I look back those things seems to be very normal.
1. Attitude is everything-
Very few situations in life are exactly what you want them to be, No one is going to treat you exactly how you think you should be treated and things aren’t always going to go your way. That’s fine. How you react to these situations is what matters. Things are very tough, don’t make your day and your life more miserable, just put up a smile and make things easier for you.
2. Be Punctual-
The internship taught me to be punctual, because if a lawyer is not punctual he may miss a court hearing which may lead to the conviction of his client or may lead to any other non-favorable order. Moreover, punctuality shows your eagerness and willingness to work and learn; your dedication for work and commitment.
3. Be Confident and Look Good-
The second important thing which internship taught me was to look good which itself means to dress well. A potential client will never hand over his case to a lawyer with shabby looks because somewhere in his mind the client makes an impression that a person who can’t take his own responsibility, how come he will take responsibility of others.
4. Communicate with Seniors-
Another thing that I learned from the internship is never to hesitate to ask your senior if you don’t understand something, always try to explain your point to others. Although when an intern explains a not so favorable point to his senior, an intern always gets a thrashing but never mind we are students we are there to learn. If those small and meaningful thrashings are the cost of learning the art of advocacy, we are more than happy to bear that small cost to learn such an art.
5. Be hungry for Work-
Another thing that I learned from the internship is to be always hungry for work. Never ever sit on your seat and expect your associates and partners to call you and assign you work, instead go to them, introduce yourself and politely ask for work. Believe me, you will get work in second or third go.
6. Meet the Deadline-
Meeting the deadline is one of the things that almost every intern learns from internships. Getting work from associates or partners is not the goal. An intern’s goal should always be to complete his/her assignment on time and responsibly. If you have been given any research by your senior then take your time and do the quality research because in the end its the quality of research matters not the time within which one has completed his research.
7. Be polite-
Internship transforms a student not only professionally, but personally as well. Wherever we go to intern, there are some people who do not belong to well-doing families like us and they are not that literate, they are the clerks, peons, guards etc. behave with them nicely and politely because sometimes these people’s act like the ladder to success. I remember that a clerk taught me to operate the photocopier machine and because of him once I saved myself because when you working on a very serious case at 2 am in the night with your senior and your senior asks you to get him a copy of something, you can’t tell him that you don’t know how to copy and if you said this to your senior, then only almighty God can save you.
8. Be adjusting-
People who are not adjusting face a lot of problems in internships and in a job, as well. Be like a tree, it stands straight but to save itself from the wind, it blows down. At this point remember one thing some trees lose their existence because they bow so much. Learn to adjust but never make yourself so comfortable with these adjustments that you lose your existence. Someone has to adjust so it’s better you do and carry on with your work. Adjustments are the part of life, and you are no exception to it.
9. Be willing to stay back at office till late-
I remember that in one of my internship I stayed back in the office till 2 am and I was doing all the work from clerical to research and everything. I was busy with the work when the head of the firm called me. I went there and he asked me about myself and further asked me that what am I doing at this point of time in the office, I said sir the team is overburdened with work so I stayed back to assist you people. He said don’t you want to go home or sleep, I said no I am comfortable, on that he said you are working late, it’s good, but that doesn’t mean you can take day off from work. I want you to be in office at 8 in the morning all freshened and dressed in court uniform I said sure sir. In the morning we were packing our bags to go to the court for case hearing when someone patted my back and it was no one else than the head of the organization, I greeted him morning, and in return he extended his hand for a handshake. That feeling was out of the world when the head of the organization pats your back and shakes hand with you in front of 20 other peoples.
10. Hard work never goes unnoticed-
This rule applies not just to the internships but also to the life outside the firm you interned. We all know that firms give PPO’s, but they offer it very rarely. Firms offer PPO’s to hard working and deserving interns. Never think that you will not be offered PPO, or you don’t have that caliber in you. You just have to work hard and diligently and the rest will fall in place itself. Show your seniors that given a chance to work for the firm, you will prove to be an asset. I am sure your hard work will bring you the best result for you.
11. You can do anything (even it requires a little assistance) –
It’s true and having this positive attitude will take you farther. Having that mindset in mind will motivate you to take risks and try new things that may benefit your employer. If you want to contribute an idea at the next staff meeting. Try it out. There’s no harm in taking that risk. Just remember each day that you can do anything and if you need help, never be afraid to ask. In the end the day, your boss will probably love that you came to them and will use it as a teaching opportunity.
12. Work on different field-
Many firms have this policy to attach the intern with any specific team, if you are interning in such a firm which follows this policy then you can’t do much about it but if you are working in a firm where they don’t follow this policy, than try to work with as many seniors you can and on different and various fields because that will help you in near future to choose your field wisely.
13. Mistakes happen-
This is a rule not only for internships but for the life which is a good thing to learn early on. If you make a mistake no matter how big, it’s always good to own up to it first. Acknowledge that you did something incorrectly and don’t try to cover it up or blame some factor out of your control. Your supervisors will respect you more for it. Once the mistake is made, learn from it and ask for help, if needed, on how to improve for future.
14. A clean workplace is a happy workplace-
I guess some people can work in clutter. I am not one of those people. Cleanliness is just so much more conducive to productivity. Everything is right where it is supposed to be, and you don’t have to sift through Ritz cracker crumbs to find a pen.
15. Talks with your co-workers-
Co-workers have a lot of experiences, and they have obviously made it in that particular field. Ask them how they got this far and what advice they have for you. You could learn a lot and get some ideas.
16. Be thankful-
The best thing to do is send a handwritten note thanking them for the experience and opportunity to work with them. It’ll leave them with good thoughts about you and you can most likely refer to them for a recommendation later.
17. Stop acting being so serious-
Last but not the least thing which I learned from an internship is to stop being so serious. You are a student and just an intern, don’t behave like an associate or partner. Take a break from your schedule and have fun with co-interns. I am not saying that you act irresponsibly but what I am saying is you have time, take a break have tea or coffee chit chat with your colleagues refresh yourself because you are just an intern. Leave some tension and worries for associates and partners because stress kills your work efficiency and if you can’t work efficiently, no firm or company is going to give you a job.
“Shine like sun and be like a star because it’s the sun which lights the whole world but at the same time be cool, calm and composed like a star.”
In the end I must say that a law student should do as much internship as he can within the span of his course but not at the cost of his lectures and study because experience comes handy with knowledge and degree, without degree or knowledge experience is nothing. An employer gives you job more on the basis of your knowledge and degree not just on the number of internship certificates you have, if you have experience it’s good for you but degree and knowledge has no substitute.