About the author – Swati Shankar is a 4th year Law student at National Law Institute University, Bhopal.
Importance of Legal Internships:
An internship is an important part of the academic curriculum because they help one gain practical knowledge and experience required to excel in their respective fields. Legal internships are not an exception to this rule. Legal internships help law students decide their respective areas of interest out of a plethora of opportunities offered by legal education be it a career in a corporate law firm, litigation, academics or working for NGOs.
Importance of legal internships can be summarized through following threefold points:
- Internship provides a platform for practical application of classroom knowledge.
- Legal Internships helps in gaining practical skills and hence gives an edge in the job market.
- Internship assists in choosing respective area of interest and hence in specialization.
Where to Apply for Internships:
One of the unique features of legal education is that it provides multiple prospects to its disciples. Unlike traditional concept of law being only litigation oriented today lawyers have ample of opportunities ahead of them. Law students can find employment as legal advisors in corporate law firms, Public sector Undertakings (PSUs), NGOs and various business houses and organisations. Further, they can join Judiciary, academics or civil services. With these diverse career opportunities comes the role of rational choice as where to apply for internship.
Legal internships can be classified under following major heads:
- Law firm internships: It includes internships at various corporate and litigation law firms. It should be primarily opted by those who look for a career prospect in law firms.
- Court internships: Court internships primarily include an internship at the district court, High Courts or Supreme Court under a lawyer’s guidance. Recommended for those students who wish to join judiciary or litigation as it provides them practical exposure to judicial procedure and its technicalities.
- Public Sector Undertakings: Various PSUs like ONGC, HPCL, and BPCL including banks like ICICI offer internships to law students.
- NGOs: NGOs offer internship opportunities to law students and contributes in providing valuable insights in particular areas of law
- Government Internships: Apart from above mentioned categories various government departments offer internships to law students. The prominent being Ministry of Finance, Competition Commission of India, Ministry of Corporate affairs etc.
Though there is no hard and fast rule as where to apply for internships but one should apply considering their area of interest. Though deciding this is not very easy, especially for beginners, but in due course of time as one gets exposed to various aspects of law, the choice becomes easier.
Duration of Internships:
There is no strict rule regarding duration of internship. Sometimes it may be specific to the policy of the institution where one is applying for internship however as a general matter of practice the duration of legal internships usually vary between three weeks to six weeks.
How to Apply for an Internship:
Getting a good legal internship requires not only a good CV but also lots of vigilance. One needs to apply at least two to three months prior to the contemplated internship duration in addition to continuous follow up through e-mails or telephonic calls. There are various websites that provides a list of law firms or advocates and their respective addresses. An internship application should include a CV along with a Cover letter. A well formatted CV and cover letter are the keys to grab a good internship opportunity.
Contents of a CV:
A CV should incorporate all relevant academic information including grades, previous internship experiences, and extracurricular and co-curricular activities including moots, debates, paper publications, paper presentations or any other relevant achievement. A good CV is one which is sound not only in terms of grade but also good in terms of extracurricular activities because it reflects ones overall skill and personality development. Hence law students should maintain good academic grades and should also participate in various co-curricular and extracurricular activities. A CV should be precise and usually should not extend two pages.
Contents of a cover letter:
A Cover letter is a significant factor in fetching an internship. Law Firms or other organizations get hundreds of internships applications a day. It is the cover letter that grabs the attention and hence a cover letter should be both well formatted and rich in terms of their content. A cover letter should usually incorporate mainly following information:
- Name of the applicant
- Name of one’s institution and relevant year of study
- Preferred place and period of internship
- Statement of purpose
A good cover letter should be short and precise and should incorporate all the above mentioned information.
Legal Internships and Stipends:
Legal internships may be both paid and unpaid. It depends upon the policy of the institution. Most of the organizations provide stipends especially all the government departments. However stipend is not the determinate factor in an internship and it is the experience that should count. Sometimes one does not get a paid internship but the kind of exposure and skill one gets carries a lot of CV value.
Legal Internships and Nature of Assignments:
Legal internships are primarily research and drafting oriented.
- Research: Research constitutes an important aspect of any internship whether it is a law firm or a court internship. Hence one needs to be well acquainted with various legal research tools, the prominent being Manupatra, Lexis Nexis, Westlaw etc.
- Drafting: Drafting skills require lots of hard work and patience. One needs to be well versed with the various drafting specimens and formatting skills in order to undertake and complete such assignments properly.Apart from these, assignments may include proof reading of various legal documents, observance of court proceedings, making notes on various legal issues etc. and other tasks depending on the nature of the internship.
List of Firms and Other Relevant Internship Institution:
It is a little difficult to finds the contact details of law firms since the Bar Council of India does not allow law firms to endorse their firms. However one can easily get list of contact details of various law firms, NGOs or other institutions by using Google search engine or by visiting just dial or similar Yellow page directories. In case of internships at Government departments, one can get details at their official websites. Legal 500 is a prominent website that provides contact details of all major national and international law firms. Further Law Octopus is a law student-oriented blog that provides contact details of major law firms, and various other government and non-government internship details. Keeping above points in mind one can definitely land up in a good internship that will not only provide a good experience but will also increase their demand in the job market. Hope this article helps you in fetching a good internship.
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