Breaking Stereotypes about Private Law Colleges and Gaining Exposure: Deepika Bahirwani on interning at Trilegal

Deepika is a genius about whom you will be never know until you meet her. She is known for her dedication and zeal to work and professionality. If she takes up a task, you can all be assured it will finish in the most fantastic way possible. She has many publications and online certifications to her name. She has been the editor for the monthly newsletter of Corporate Research Center of Institute of Law, Nirma University. She is currently working with the Campus Recruitment Cell of ILNU. Recently, she finished her internship with Trilegal, one of the leading Corporate Firms of India. Our Correspondents Deepansh Tripathi and Saransh Sharma had a little conversation with her regarding the same. Presented here are the excerpts:

Q: You did your internship with Trilegal Mumbai, one of the best law firms in the country. It is the dream of many and you were able to fulfil it. How do you feel about it?

Ans: I always knew that it would be a great experience to intern at one of the leading firms’ like Trilegal. And it sure didn’t disappoint me. I think it’s great how law firms are now looking at students from private universities at par with students from NLUs, and are open to giving us opportunities based not on which institute we come from, but on our capabilities, CVs and other criteria like may be an interview. So I think it’s great that I was able to make an entry in such a big law firm. It was an amazing experience.

 

Q: What is the application process? How did you get selected?

Ans: For my April internship I had started applying by December. I had sent my CV and cover letter to the HR of Trilegal, to which, I got an instant rejection in a week. Subsequently, I started applying in other law firms. And one fine day in January, out of the blue, I received an email from the HR of Trilegal which contained a link to a website called “higherknowledge” and that’s how I knew that there has to be a good reason behind the email being sent to me despite of a previous rejection. I was determined to do whatever it took, because I was lucky enough to get a second chance. Higherknowledge is a website to which law firms have started outsourcing their selection process, in terms of problem solving and legal research. The candidate is required to solve a minimum of 5 legal questions which involve extensive legal research, within a span of 10 days. They have this clock ticking on the page as soon as you open the link, within 10 days of which, your time is up. I solved 7 of them out of which 5 got approved and that’s how I got into Trilegal.

 

Q: What was the duration and timing of the internship?

Ans: I was at Trilegal for a period of 4 weeks starting from the 18th April 2016 to 13th May 2016. Other interns, who got in through references were given an internship for only 3 weeks.

 

 

 

Q: How was your first day/formalities? And how was the infrastructure?

Ans: Trilegal is situated in one of the fanciest buildings in Mumbai: IndiaBulls One Centre. Before even entering the office, I knew this was going to be amazing. The office is situated on the 14th floor, but later I found out that the interns are seated on the 15th floor. As if I wasn’t already completely awed by this sophisticated and incredible office, I entered the 15th floor office only to find out it was like a better version of the 14th floor. I was shown my workstation and provided with the intern kit. The HR came to see me and introduced me to my team. And, that was it for the formalities. I started with assisting my team thereon.

 

Q: How many interns were there with you?

Ans: At the time I was interning there were 5 interns and surprisingly all of them were from private universities. Later, as the weeks passed by, the number fluctuated from 7-10.

Q: What and how was the work that you were given? Was it research based and did you get the chance to go to the court?

Ans: I was very keen on joining the corporate team since I have always been very interested in corporate law. Luckily, my work was majorly research based. I have never been enthusiastic about drafting and much to my rejoice, I never got that sort of work. I think I was in an advantageous position because of the fact that I got exactly that area of law which I was interested in. Although, I did research work for different teams, like Litigation and Tax, as and when the corporate team did not have anything to delegate. It is pretty simple, you just send out an email to any associates of the firm that you know or you have worked for. How keen you are on taking up work and how many people you approach for the same is what decides your impression on people. You don’t have to laze around if your team doesn’t have work. No work will walk up to you. If you are serious about what you’re doing and you’re clear in your head that you don’t have a big college brand backing you, you’ll know that whatever you achieve, will only be based on what you do. There are around 80 to 90 lawyers in Trilegal and you are obviously not introduced to everyone on your first day, unlike smaller law firms, where even the partners may at times be approachable. So after you send out an email that you are free, if somebody from your team knows that an Associate from the other team needs an intern so they’ll just refer you to that associate and that’s how you build a network in a firm. Like I mentioned, most of my work was research based, I never had to visit the Court. Neither any of my tasks called for it, nor was my team involved in Court matters.

 

Q: How was the environment and the people around you?

Ans: The best part about Trilegal is that they have infused the young generation in the firm like anything. The associates I was working for were probably 2 or 3 years elder to me. They were easily approachable and very supportive. The team I was allotted to was very encouraging and made sure that I always had quality work to do. Ranging from the work I got, the cooperation, the guidance, everything. I would say this has been the best internship for me in terms of the team I worked with. Even though, I did not get a chance to interact with a lot of people in the firm, but whoever I did in fact interact was quite humble. The requisite formal line of communication did exist when it came to interacting with a Senior Associate, but I guess that is pretty much necessary. People in Trilegal like to be called by their names always, they always will tell you not to address them as Sir/Ma’am. They make sure you’re comfortable around them.

 

Q: So what the best and the worst part about your internship?

Ans: I can jot down a lot of things I would call the best. The one that I think worked out for me really well was the minimal age gap between the interns and the associates. It helped me because I did not have to hesitate to speak to any associate. I could just go up to them and without getting embarrassed or without any fear of being judged, I could just ask them my doubts. It was easier to do their work once they are the ones telling you what they expect you to do. So that was a great thing. Apart from that, they pay you really well, and it’s not solely about paying you well, it’s about the fact that they acknowledge your efforts and the hard work that you put in. There are firms where you put in your blood and sweat and still do not get a simple acknowledgment, so I think this is a quite a measure of satisfaction that you’re getting paid like anyone else who works from 10-10.

I probably wouldn’t want to label anything to that level of dissatisfaction and call it worst because of the great time that I have had at Trilegal. People were good, work was good, I got a cheque at the end of it, you tell me what’s to point out?

Q:  Many students aspire to intern at such law firms during their initial years in the college. What is the right time to apply to such firms?

Ans: When I interned at Trilegal, I had just finished my 6th semester, and even after finishing 3 years of this course, there were a lot of things that I myself did not know. There were instances where when I was given a task, I had to Google the basic terms involved in the research question. Before making a research note, I had to actually understand what I have to research. Not that your semester decides your capabilities, but I think it’s too early for the 1st and 2nd year students to try for such big law firms. These firms usually don’t entertain students before the 3rd year, because they are not sitting there to teach you. They expect students to know and be thorough with the basics. So if someone really is interested in these big law firms, he/she should first start with the smaller law firms, then go to a mid-sized law firm and then after gaining ample practical experience and knowledge, apply to these firms Your experience at the big law firm can be fruitful only if you know the basics.

 

Q: Lastly, what was the biggest lesson and what are you looking at 5 years down the line?

Ans : I know I am a different person after 4 weeks of internship at Trilegal, I stayed in office till midnight for work, I have seen how agreements are made, how one wrong clause can cost you thousands, none of which you get to learn until you actually see it. I was interacting with different sorts of people. So there was this one associate who was very strict and rowdy, and then there was another associate who was very sweet and always willing to help. I think the take-away from such internships is the exposure you receive. You interact with people, understand how corporate culture is. You meet co-interns from NLUs and other private universities and you understand where you stand, what you’re competing with. I have recently received a call back internship at Trilegal for November. So it’s all about how much you want to extract, how much you want to learn.  For me, it has been an amazing learning experience and I can’t wait to get back there for another such experience. It’s a great step forward because that’s how you break stereotypes about students from private universities who are probably “not good enough” because they could not get into NLUs. You just have to perform extraordinarily well and out-do yourself in every internship.

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