By Daiem Mahfuz
This write up does not intend to define what internship is; on an average for that purpose you can easily use any of the search engines – perhaps the most popular “Google” would beget a satisfactory result. Instead, I would try to explain the importance of internship in a law student’s life. But before doing that, let us have the courage to tell the truth. What truth?
In Bangladesh, the story of entering law schools varies in different respects for various reasons. Some chooses law schools without having no other better options depending on many variables such as the grades one has in secondary and higher secondary score-sheets or the quality of public and private universities exist in the country, etc. But some steps into the door of law schools with an aim of becoming legal professional. For those falling under the former category, life is tough ahead for sure; not because they are so-called ‘sub-talented’ assessed by the existing legal education, but because they have a hard time to think, decide and pick up the right path. If you are one of them, you must consider the importance of conjugation between life and work as you certainly do not want to get stuck with a job that you would dislike for the rest of your life. Pleasure and satisfaction in life and at work always matter for an individual indeed.
The dilemma, I am talking about, appears to us due to ample avenues of career opportunities available for the law graduates. All these career paths are different from one another; each bearing its own intrinsic characteristics and perks. Which one suits you better cannot be known just by studying law at your school. To me, law is a technical subject and its practical applications are quite different from what one can apparently assume. And as such, legal internships help you explore a wide horizon of experiencing an indigenous fusion of academic knowledge and practical hands-on skills.
An internship under a multinational company will teach you how to develop an unwavering character of legal counsel in you. You will come to know how a corporate house deals with its everyday legal issues arising out of its competitions, its tax and revenue issues, land issues, or say environment and development issues as well. These sorts of internships will help you get exposed to the works of the organization merely.
Now what does happen to those who want to be a judge or a judicial magistrate? In our country, clerkship under a judge or a magistrate for law students is not available. But clerkship is important for those who want to understand the intriguing and compelling examples of law and jurisprudence. Undertaking extensive legal research and writing, as well as the formulation, drafting, and editing of judgments improve a law student’s skills for future professional life. While the judges in the foreign countries are found highly collaborative, allowing for substantial engagement among clerks from all chambers, unfortunately the judges in our country lead a life of apparent social isolation because of their job requirements. Here, judges have to be discrete; they have to maintain a code of secrecy in terms of their verdict.
Things about court life of judges can only be learned if someone works with a judge. Clerkship under the supervision of a judge provides a law student to have an experience of court life from the perspective of a judicial mind. Working as a student-clerk allows law students to attain practical legal experience and familiarity with the court operations. It is quite evident that these experiences enhance educational experience as well as deepen our knowledge. Experiences such as these will equip you better to understand law and their applications on relevant field.
As of now we were only discussing about the different inherent experience we can gather from the different vocations. Apart from these, there is some other important fundamental learning that you can get from internship. For instance, it is obvious that a student life and a professional life are poles apart; internship bridges the transition between these two lives. In a student life you only had to deal with friends and sometimes faculties; and now there are colleagues, senior colleagues, tea-boy and many others. Internship teaches you how to tackle a professional problem, and work as a team. It makes you aware of the importance of punctuality, professional ethics and etiquettes. Internship helps you determine whether you have interest in a particular career conduit and establish a better network. It creates a way for students to develop their capabilities by practically applying the academic elements of their law degree and an opportunity to learn about the work environment. In fine, it can be said that legal internship is becoming an integral part for law students. Through it, we can discover what could be the right career for us so that we can prolong our development professionally.
Daiem Mahfuz is working as a Trainee Lawyer at the British American Tobacco, Bangladesh (BAT); He is also pursuing an LL.M from University of Dhaka.