The series ‘Suits’ has glamorised the legal profession, with men in dapper suits settling cases across the table, even without the adrenaline rush of the courtroom drama! Several movies and series have showcased the life of legal interns and paralegals in the USA, but how is it in India?
We decided to chat with Saransh Chaturvedi to find some answers about being a legal intern, pursuing a government internship. The third-year student from Faculty of Law at Banaras Hindu University, did his internship in ONGC. Here are a few excerpts from our chat with him.
Let’s start at the beginning, how did you get the internship at ONGC?
As the trend with PSUs, ONGC advertises the requirement for interns in major newspapers. I applied for the same with my CV; it was followed by a personal interview and then confirmation. It is good to keep a look out for such announcements in the newspapers, sometimes even the website is not updated with the information!
Great! Tell us a bit about your experience at ONGC and the kind of work you did there.
ONGC is the largest profit making PSUs in India and in 2016 made profits of over Rs. 14,300 crores.
That’s the magnitude of the organisation! In this huge setup, ONGC deals with a lot of contractors, clients and third party vendors, and once in a while there is a disagreement and cases are filed both ways.
These cases were one of the first things we worked for. The task given was to first write briefs about the cases and then research them to find case points and different perspectives. We used to coordinate with a head for interns and give him my case findings.
Another task was to attend meetings and write briefs on them. These meetings were mostly conciliation meets between ONGC and contractors (the other party). The main task as a legal intern is to research, that itself plays a major part in winning a case!
Any particular moments you remember from the internship that you enjoyed or learnt from?
Yes, once I got a chance to sit in an OEC (Outside Expert Committee) meeting which was a great experience as it involves very senior professionals from ONGC. It taught me a lot about the work culture and the general protocols in such meetings.
This was important to me because at a PSU there is not much hand holding, one is expected to have the basic understanding of subject matter and of the company as well. And with the government, there are a lot of rules and protocols to follow, many of which are not really written down! It’s just a matter of experience.
As a law student, how do you keep yourself updated with the work in the field?
I have been working with the Legal Clinic of our university for the past 3 years and we conduct a lot of activities for the rural population. We conduct village camps, poster exhibitions etc. to make people aware of the laws and their rights.
I have also edited two books, Contemporary Issues in Law and Society, and Contemporary issues in Indian Society which are soon to be published. Knowledge is a lawyer’s main tool and I keep myself updated by participating in Model UN Program and All India Debate competitions. I also have been the campus ambassador for Lawctupus, Racolb Legal and International Council of Jurists.
Anything you would like to share with those looking forward to interning with PSUs?
Internships with PSUs are a rich learning experience primarily because of the range of legal cases they are involved with. You get to research a lot, although you have to make a lot of effort too. You need to keep yourself abreast of all current events and the information of the relevant cases going on. However, this is all office and desk work. If you are looking for more field work then you should work for a NGO.
Are you a legal intern too? Share us your internship experience in comments below.