Interns Are Often Considered ‘Free Labour'
Careers 360|February 2021
A student who interned with a law-firm during the pandemic writes about working long hours without a stipend and what they learned from mistakes.

I am currently a final-year student at National Law University, Odisha. As is the norm and the suggested manner of progressing through law school, one is to intern at various places in order to grasp the intricacies of law in practice and also to get an additional entry in one’s résumé – experience. This will act as a catalyst in furthering one’s career in the legal profession. In pursuit of the same, I did an unpaid online internship during the pandemic at a corporate law firm situated in Delhi.

It is often said that the theories of law taught inside a classroom and the practice of law in the court and swanky law offices are quite different. The chasm between the two is wide enough to make a student of law a learner for a lifetime.

Anyway, I ended up joining the internship for an experience unfamiliar to everyone as all the transactions were occurring online. It was my first time pursuing an internship from the comfort of my home.

No stipend

While as an intern at a law firm, one is expected to be prim and proper, good at communication, diligent about one’s job and display every other virtue that is expected from every person in a corporate setup. But as the intern is an employee at the very bottom of the hierarchy, they are often considered “free labour” and for them, the experience and the certificate at the end are expected to be greater pay than money itself.

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