No one prepares you for what law school has in store for you, and the least of them are internships. AISHWARYA NABH, a litigating lawyer today, recollects her struggles with making a CV and finding an internship.
I cannot say much about other professions but mine, the law.
Fresh out from school, I joined law school with no idea whatsoever of what the future had in store for me.
For starters, as a science student, I was clueless about Sociology, Political Science and Economics. I still remember my first sociology class when we were taught about Maex, but I thought understanding osmosis in amoeba was a lot easier!
Cut to 2020 and it’s a different story altogether.
Who would have thought that I’d be worshiping Marx and hoping that my father would junk his preconceived notions about Marxism!
I am a millennial and I know what I am doing. Or maybe I do not? If I could go back in the future to pick my high school subjects, if I knew then what I know now; perhaps, I would have opted for the humanities or commerce. But then you know what they say; if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
Now, let’s rewind a little to my first year of internship. Everyone in my batch was either a judge’s daughter or son or had a legal legacy backing them up.
If I could go back in the future to pick my high school subjects, if I knew then what I know now; perhaps, I would have opted for the humanities or commerce.
The question that was at the top of my mind was, who would ever give me an opportunity to intern? How does a student from a non-law background, and no contacts in the legal fraternity even apply for an internship? Are you supposed to go to the court and request any lawyer that you could lay your eyes on to offer you an internship?
And mind you, till this time I had no idea about the existence of law firms – they were an alien concept to me.
It was only after asking around and interacting with a few good people who were kind enough to entertain my questions, that I was told I needed to have something called a Curriculum Vitae aka CV to apply for an internship.
Lightbulb moment, learning moment–call it what you will, but then came the more relevant question – what on earth would I write in my CV?
My school name, the marks I scored in the CBSE examinations, the name of my law school–these were the obvious entries I could think of, but was that it? Should I write that I won a science olympiad or that I was part of the science club in my school? I could, for I was proud of these achievements; but how would these make me sound like a promising law student?
What I realised was that I was still a science student with a CV running into 12 pages comprising of thermodynamics and my physics marks. Marx was still as painful a topic as it was on day one of law school; as was Dialectic Materialism; and yet all I dreamt about was going to the Supreme Court (and I did!).
Contradictory? Yes, I acknowledge that–but this was what I knew. Are we ever unidimensional? Or are we the sum total of all our learnings?
Somehow second and third year at law school went by in studying, bunking, and running around while trying to make a star out of my CV. The number of pages had reduced, the font changed and so did the content- from what I had done in school to what I had done in law school.
I remember mentioning how under one internship I had “drafted a Criminal Miscellaneous Appeal” to be filed before the Delhi High Court. If only this was the case, all that I had actually done was taking out prints of the pages of the appeal to be made into the paper book. But could I write this and get away?
Marx was still as painful a topic as it was on day one of law school; as was Dialectic Materialism; and yet all I dreamt about was going to the Supreme Court (and I did!).
I chose my internships keeping in mind where all my batchmates were going.
If only I knew better, I would have perhaps never troubled myself! I could have just read more books, written more, or chosen a place of internship where I knew I would be offered a job.
Because let’s be practical, who would have given me a job? I was not from NLS! I was just a first-generation law student with no god-father or god-mother in the fraternity.
Once I wanted to intern at a tier-one law firm. I reached out to my parents who are doctors for help. They reached out to their friends who are not lawyers as they do not have any friends who are lawyers. Lucky me? Don’t think so!
A very kind uncle who happened to be my father’s cousin got me my first law firm internship. What a joy it was to keep sitting in my comfortable rotating chair in a centrally air-conditioned room and getting to use the firm’s laptop.
In my heart, I knew they would never offer me a job because a fresher is more like a liability than an asset, but that did not deter me.
I met some really good-hearted people, who I can still reach out to for career advice and I am ever so grateful to have met them. It also happened to be the first time that I got a stipend just for hitting the Manupatra search button and printing judgments. Could my life get any better? Didn’t think so!
I finished law school. Internships got over. The CV now is just one and a half pages long. I am now a litigating lawyer, practicing for the last 4.5 years, still, a lone wolf running in between courtrooms while still thinking about my CV.
(Aishwarya Nabh is a Delhi based lawyer. Views are personal.)