Know your basics and be Confident: Chiranjeev Saboo on interning with Nishith Desai Associates

Chiranjeev Saboo holds the position of not less than a rock star among the students of ILNU. With his long mane and straight face he can convince you just by his looks about his erudite personality. He is a brilliant student and an even more brilliant mooter with number of moot participation and wins under his belt. His latest would be winning the BR Sawhney Moot Court Competition at NALSAR Hyderabad. He is one of the few students who have acquired and done an internship with Nishith Desai Associates. He spent some time with the Social Media Committee and talked about his experience working with the firm. Here are few excerpts from the interview.

Q. First of all, you are the first person from ILNU to intern at Nishith Desai Associates. So many – many congratulations. How did you apply for the firm?

A: Thanks! By the way I would like to mention that I wasn’t the first but the second person to intern at NDA (Nishith Desai Associates). The application procedure was quite straight. There is an application form on the website of NDA. I filled it up and even mailed them my application. I had to do one follow up once. After which the process was very prompt i.e. CV selection followed by telephonic interview and a confirmation mail for a period of 6 weeks.

Q. What did they ask you in the Interview?

Ans: It wasn’t very technical an interview. I had selected corporate team to intern with. So they asked me basic things like what are contracts, what is the definition of a company and how would you distinguish it from a partnership. What advice would you give a client when he comes to you and asks whether he should open a company or a partnership firm? What are the advantages of a company over a partnership firm, followed by some personal questions and that was it.

Q. You mentioned you wanted to work in corporate team. Are there other teams to work with there too?

Ans: Nishith Desai majorly is a Tax and Corporate firm. But apart from that they also work in the areas of Intellectual Property, Litigation and Arbitration. Apart from that, they also have work related to media, telecommunication etc.

Q. Excellent. Can you tell us about your first day experience? How is the work culture there?

Ans. (Smiles) on my first day I was early. Very early to be exact. They offered me tea, newspaper, sandwiches and told me to relax till it is 9 o’clock. NDA has a very good culture that from 9:00AM to 10:00AM every morning they have a session where every partner senior associate, associates talks about the contemporary issues related to their field of expertise. If one partner is from Taxation he will talk on issues related to Tax Laws, one on corporate law issues and so on. There is a rotational system which goes on there. You have to mandatorily attend the session. There should be no exception to it. After the session you continue with your work. On first day I was sensitized about that, then I was given my laptop. Yes, every intern is given their own laptops. NDA is a very tech savvy firm. So you do not have to go to associates to ask for work. The work will be given to you on your mails by your mentor. Every intern, every associate and every senior associate has a mentor. My mentor was sitting in Munich. But since everything is technologically integrated that distance is just a word.

If you have finished the work assigned to you, you can write a mail to anyone and everyone saying that you have ‘Bandwidth’. Bandwidth is a term used for free time that is available with you. Then you can take work from other team as well.

Q. How was the environment there?

Ans. The environment is extremely friendly. Initially I was talking to everyone with sir/ma’am. But then I was told to call everyone by their names and avoid the formality part NDA has a very good & loaded pantry, where you can go and cook things for yourself, if you happen to build up good relations with associates, which you do because they are friendly, you’ll end up hanging with associates. All good and friendly environment being there, you need to make sure you work well and timely as the firm gives importance to your work and delay may cause hindrance to all other work attached to it. The other thing which makes NDA stands out is that there is no cabin system. Every intern, associate and partner sits in a cubicle which is assigned to them, which spreads such a strong message of equal treatment to each individual irrespective of their position..

Q. What kind of works were assigned to you?

Ans: While I was working with the corporate team, I was majorly involved in  due diligence work, the blue eyed being BSE due diligence .Apart from that, research on  IPR, property, securities law were the major areas of work assigned to me.

While in the arbitration team we were handed a fresh matter. So I along with a co – intern was asked to help in developing things from issues to drafting statement of claim, and we were asked to develop and come up with ideas to deal with the issue in hand.  A lot of autonomy was given to us during the entire time and the associates supervised us and guided us through Out.

Q. Great. Now coming again on some logistic issues, is there any restriction that a law student from this year above only should apply there? Or do they take candidates from every year?

Ans: NDA generally prefers people who are in their fourth and fifth years. The reason being that law firms generally believe that in fourth or fifth year students know the law and how to handle it. And would responsible enough to do their work.

Q. Any advice that would like to give to the people reading this?

Ans:  I think I already said a lot about the firm. The only advice I’d like to give would be that be confident in your dealings. If you want a longer relationship with any firm then you need to show them that you can handle the tides of time which you can do by being confident, having knowledge about things backed up by relevant authorities and presenting it in an articulated manner. Rest, Good Luck.

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