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Rev. 5


A. INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................1
B. MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS ...............................................................2
C. INTERNING: THE UNFAQ ...................................................................3
D. READ.....................................................................................................9
E. THE BOTTOM LINE............................................................................10
F. QUESTIONNAIRE ..............................................................................11

Please read through this carefully. You will find some of it funny; thats
intentional. But all of it is serious, and thats deliberate too.

Theres a questionnaire at the end on a separate sheet. I expect you to

answer this within a fortnight of your receiving this mail. There are no right
answers to the questions you will find there, and Im not looking for them.
But your answers will tell me (a) whether to take you on at all; and (b) just
how much I can push you.

Overall, understand this: practicing law is like anything else you might
choose to do. The one thing, absolutely the most basic thing, you need is not
intelligence, learning, erudition, knowledge, wisdom. Its passion. This
must be the stuff that makes you want to deny yourself sleep. The kind of
thing that wakes you in the middle of the night with thoughts, ideas,
approaches, answers. If youre not beginning to feel like this, youre
probably not doing the right thing and I have no time or place for you.


1. At least the start of the fourth year of the five-year course or

equivalent (second year of the three-year course). If youre anything
below that, dont bother.

2. Familiarity with legal research and using online and physical

libraries. If you cant, or wont, read, use books, or online resources,
dont bother.

3. Men: a black jacket and at least one tie and the ability to knot it

4. A laptop and the ability to use it. I can probably fix and rejig your
machines, but I wont.

5. Minimum three-month stint for those in Mumbai. From those from

outside Mumbai, two months. Nothing less. Do not apply for a one-
month internship. It is a waste of everybodys time and I dont need
you occupying expensive real estate.

6. Maximum seats are four. Ive had six recently and its a pain.

7. An appropriate CV and covering letter. If you talk about my

practice, firm or organisation, you go straight into the trash. If
you dont date your covering letter and if you dont use page
numbers, you go straight into the trash. Do not drop off your CV
without a covering letter. I dont accept applications dropped off in

Not to be taken personally, but read closely please; youll find unexpected things here.

1. LEARNING. I dont guide. I dont teach. I throw you into the deep
end of the pool and then watch to see if youre swimming or sinking.
I definitely do not spoon-feed. My job is to teach you how to teach
yourself. Beyond that, its up to you.

2. WORK. Do NOT ever I mean ever ask me if theres an

interesting or important case up today. Every matter is
interesting, and there is no such thing as a small or unimportant
case. End of story. As you hear cases, and especially the ones that are
full length arguments, take notes. You can carry your laptop to court
(theres WiFi and power plugs there too). You are to check the daily
listings and you are to come to court every single day.

3. ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES. You get to Chambers before I do,

and you leave after I do.

4. DRAFTING. In week two of your internship you will start drafting

judgments. You will not ask me what to do or how to do it. You will
probably not be familiar with the area of the law. Doesnt matter.
Learn. Figure it out for yourself. I will then savage your draft plan
on that. You will see both versions, and then we will discuss what
worked and what didnt and why. I may not have the time to correct
your drafts in mark up, but dont worry about that. Remember that
a draft judgment is not a draft pleading. Theres a huge difference.
Different types of cases (suits, motions, petitions) have different
structures in pleadings and in judgments. You should aim to
understand these differences and apply them accurately and with
skill. For instance, Motions are not admitted. I have a rhythm for
how I want you to work on draft judgments; that will come later, if
you get in.

5. NOTES. In final hearing matters, our records are digitized. You can
take soft copies (PDFS) and carry them home for study. Be sure to
delete all these when your internship ends.

6. PROOFING. I will send you, unpredictably, drafts to proof-read and
markup with typos. I expect this back on priority. I do a lot of the
physical typing myself; I expect you to do this too.

7. DAILY ORDERS. Established turn-around times for daily orders are

severe. The drill is that all orders dictated in court come to me by
email or on a pen drive by days end; I correct them and send them
back, and by the time I get to Chambers the next day, the corrected
copies are ready for signature. Often this is done by days end and
doesnt carry over to the next morning. The orders are uploaded
before I go to court the next day. I would strongly urge you to flip
quickly through the orders as they are signed, sitting with the staff.
Sometimes, I send you these draft orders for proofing.

8. DEADLINES. I dont set deadlines. There is only one deadline for

your work. Yesterday.

9. NOTHING HANDWRITTEN. Only in Word files, correctly formatted

(double spaced, wide margins). Follow the formatting structures you
will see in other judgments. Proof read all material. Stuff with
grammatical and spelling errors will be deleted without a second
look. All drafts by email only. No long rambling notes in the body of
an email in attached Word docs only. Bring your own laptop.
Chambers has WiFi.

10. QUESTIONS ON LAW. You will not look to me for answers to your
questions on law (what does res judicata mean?; what is de bonis
non?; What are the Letters Patent? and so on.) I am not your
buddy. I am not your daddy. I am not your BFF, assuming anyone
has one any longer. I am not your go-to guy every time a question
pops into your head. I am not here to give you private tuitions.

11. RESEARCH. I do the questioning. When I ask for a note on the law,
do NOT look up a law firms website and pull out some rubbish from
one of their so-called learned articles. I nearly kicked out one intern
for this. No targetted, narrow searches on the web; I expect you to
read a book (those thick things with pages and hard covers) and read
beyond the immediate. That is the only way you will learn. If you
dont know or understand something, read a book. Then read
another, then a third, then look at the judgments online, then figure

it out. If you do prepare a note with citations, or look up anything, I
expect you to have read every one of those citations, and all the
citations in those citations that endless loop till you drop from
exhaustion and your mind goes numb and you can hardly speak.

12. INTERRUPTIONS. If you interrupt me when I am working on

something, I will kick you out. Immediately. No further warnings.

13. LIBRARY. You will have complete access to the Judges library
(which is truly fabulous), Manupatra, SCC Online (web), Westlaw,
etc. If you dont know how to use standard research databases
(Manupatra, SCC Online), dont bother applying.

14. KEEPING ABREAST. There are several box files of my judgments

criminal, company, writ, civil suits, IPR, etc. They are all now on a
pen drive too. You must read all of them. I will, without warning,
question you on them. You must also regularly visit the High Court
website and read the latest judgments (reported and unreported) and
orders (reported), at least in civil law and on the Original Side. This is
to be done weekly. In addition, the latest from the Supreme Court off
the High Court e-library website or by signing up for the SCC online
email newsletter.

15. THINK. In all your work, Im looking most of all for out-of-the-box
thinking. Lateral thinking. Quantum leaps. Imagination. And yes,
the injection of humour, pathos, something human into our terrain,
but all without sarcasm, without condescension, without being
hurtful. Short point: we strive to judge without being judgemental.
No high moral ground here. Be kind. Be gentle. Be humane. Be
patient. Then apply the law as you perceive it.

16. THE SPHINX IN THE COURTROOM. No matter what anyone says

in Court, do not laugh or smile or carry any expression. There are
only two exceptions: one, when everyone laughs. Two, when I say
something and laugh. Then, laughing is compulsory even if its not
particularly funny. Seriously ESPECIALLY in matrimonial
matters and ESPECIALLY in Parsi Matrimonial matters, do not ever,
ever smile or laugh. All that is for later, in Chambers.

17. VEGAS. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas: no repeating

Chamber talk outside. The atmosphere in Chambers is relaxed and

casual; politically incorrect language (but NOT conduct) is
encouraged, and pretty much the norm. Dont be fooled by the
lightness of tone. Its just easier to work in that kind of atmosphere
than under constant stress. All that can, and will, change so fast you
will not know what has hit you. Do not forget where you are and
where youre working. This is not your neighbourhood hangout or
adda. Off colour remarks and words often fly around in all
directions. None of this is to be taken seriously. If youre touchy or
prickly about this kind of stuff, then this is not the place for you.
Keep it down: there is ABSOLUTELY NO PRIVACY in chambers and
everything anyone says can be heard by everyone.

18. GROVELLING. I dont have the time or the patience for this
institutions patented grovelling and all the my-lording that goes on.
I have prohibited it from all court staff, and I do not respond to
anyone who use Lordship or My Lord. I do not use all the
nonsensical protocol and laal batti rubbish either. That is all useless
clutter. But the work is SACRED. The institution is SACRED. No
disrespect to either, ever. Again, this means precision and neatness
above all.

19. STAFF = FAMILY. My staff is family. They will pamper you as they
do me, but they are to be treated gently and respectfully at all times.
Whatever you need they will provide, but they have a routine for
papers coming in and going out, so please dont disrupt that.

20. DRESS. Follow the dress code. Without fail. One intern wound up in
a red sweater. Not happening. And dont make it difficult for me,
because I cant possibly comment on ladies attire. Ladies, if you
wear anything inappropriate, the chances are I will not notice, but
Shephali from my staff certainly will and she will read you the riot
act. She is authorised to do that, and you do not want to get on her
wrong side, ever. Guys, dont come in with a two-day metrosexual
stubble. This is not a nightclub. If you cant look after your
appearance, youre not fit to be here. Non-colours only: white, black,
off-white, grey. Nothing else. Keep your clothing comfortable but not

21. THE LOO. Chamber washroom blackout times: That means you
dont use it during these times: ten minutes before court timings and

ten minutes after I return to Chambers. You can always jump out of
Court to go to the loo. I cant.

22. CONVERSATIONS. Do NOT attempt to converse 10 minutes before

Court begins at the head of the day. I am sorting my head out. Ditto
ten minutes after I return. I need that cool-down time too.

23. COFFEE, TEA AND SUCH. Coffee and tea are NOT on the house but
cookies, chocolates and goodies arrive at unpredictable intervals.
Pick your favourite restaurant Chamber dinners or lunches
happen at short notice, as might a movie at Inox, but find a common
denominator. You might be filthy rich, but not everyone around can
afford a Rs.2500 per head meal. All such events are strictly SOSL
(South of the Sea Link).

24. THE OTHER SIDE. Fair weather permitting, you will get a
conducted tour of the other side of the High Court building, the
Judges side, including up to the high terraces, roofs, ramparts. We
often boldly go where few lawyers have gone before.

25. MARRIAGE. Marriage ends internship. Theres a Latin maxim for

that somewhere. Therefore: do not get married during your
internship. Do not get engaged. Do not invite me to your second
cousins third daughters engagement ceremony in Nalasopara. Do
not pass go. Do not collect 200.

26. AIR CONDITIONING. On no account are you to fool around with my

Arctic-grade air conditioning, either in Chambers or in Court. If you
feel too cold, wear a sweater: white, grey or black only. No hoodies.
No flashy colours. If you think youre freezing, go out, defrost, and
come back. Or not. There are three temperature settings: cold, icy-
cold and Justice Patel cold.

27. DISAPPEARANCES. Do not ever disappear without telling me. I

worry. I really do, especially about those on trains and the ladies. If
you cant come in, send me or one of the staff or the others a

28. TIME OFF. If you need time off, make sure its for something that
appeals to me: rescuing stray animals (go for it), street children,

womens rights, undertrials, wildlife protection, but also make sure
that any pending work is cleared.

29. FEATOAFL. You will be included, whether you like it or not, on my

FEATOAFL WhatsApp group. Dont bother googling it. Its Friday
Evenings At The Office Are For Losers. You will bail at 5:30 pm on a
Friday evening. Get a life. At least once a week.


1. Read. Constantly, incessantly, obsessively. Everything. Not just

law. Fiction, thrillers, poetry, everything. See movies. Read the
newspapers, as many as you can.

2. Exercise. Daily. Build a routine.

3. Compulsory reading: Atul Setalvad, Introduction to Law.

Avirook Sen, Aarushi. There are copies in Chambers. Feel free
to borrow. Bring them back. Other books come and go. Noah
Feldman, Scorpions. Merlin Holland, The Trial of Oscar Wilde.
Biographies of judges and lawyers. All in Chambers. Borrow
freely, always return. Plus, plus, plus.

4. Recommended reading: my non-judgment writing you should

read. Not for its great quality but because it will tell you what
makes me really, really angry.

5. Read about classic trials:

6. Follow Michael Sandel:

7. Read about formatting and typography in law and why it

matters: fonts, leading, paragraph numbering, arranging your

Matthew Butterick, Typography for Lawyers.


I do not expect you to do your best. Any fool can do some rubbish
and say it is his best.

I dont want your best.

I want better than your best.

There are no two words more harmful in the

English language than Good job.

Terence Fletcher, Whiplash

Watch the YouTube clip on this:

You do not play to your potential here. You play above your potential.

That means drive, independent thought, argument, reasoning, self-

teaching, being organised, being disciplined.

Youre here to learn, yes. But also to have fun doing it. That does not
mean fooling around. It means enjoying your work. Being excited and
energized by it.

I NT ER NS S T A R T E R K I T | 10
Some questions have no right answers; others have only one correct response.

Answers expected by email in doc files in 15 days; reference the question

numbers in your answers.

1. Are you truly satisfied with the CV youve sent me? Look at it
again. Does it have a covering letter? Is that correctly
formatted? Does it have a date? Does it have page numbering if
necessary? Is the letter correct and appropriate? Have you
taken out all the fluff? Can you identify the fluff? Think about
this: what does saying that you worked on arbitration law in
XYZ & Co tell me about what you actually did? Did you write
the book on the subject? If theres a specific issue you dealt
with, isnt it better to zero in on that? Try sending me another
CV. One that is direct, focussed, on point and fits your purpose
and what this starter kit is about.

2. Describe yourself in two words that do not include any of the

following (or any synonyms): ambitious, beautiful, capable,
clever, competent, considerate, curious, dedicated, diligent,
good-looking, handsome, hardworking, honest, humble,
industrious, inquisitive, intelligent, lawyer (includes aspiring
lawyer, legal trainee, intern, etc.), modest, motivated,
professional, respectful, sincere, smart. There are other words
out there, ones that are important. Think. Think about where
youre applying, and why.

3. Is not being able to answer Q.2 a good answer? Why? (Two lines,
two sentences, max).

4. Send me a sample of your written work. PDF only, nothing on

paper, no text or doc/docx files. It doesnt matter what it is:
blog, newspaper, law journal, anything. But it must have been
published or submitted for publication. I dont want to see
your emails to your buddies or Facebook posts. If you havent
published, say so.

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5. Youre stuck on a desert island. List the five books youd like to
have with you. Why?

6. What five pieces of music would you want to have with you on
that desert island? Your music player is solar powered, so dont
get clever.

7. Name five books unrelated to law that youve read in the past

8. If you werent pursuing a career in law, what would you be

doing? Why arent you doing it?

9. What are your passions? The things that drive, motivate, excite
your mind? If you say writing, show me a piece of writing
unrelated to law. If you say reading, thats fine too, so long as
you show me your latest reading list. If youre a photographer,
show me. If its a sport, do you play competitively? At what
level? Dont be shy with this one if youre a guy and say
cooking, I think thats terrific, but give me a recipe or a dish
you think is great.

10. Does solitude scare you? Do you take time off to be alone? How

11. (a) Why law? (b) What kind of lawyer do you aspire to be?
Careful here: I will toss out anyone who uses the usual
hackneyed phrases. This is not an application to Harvard.
Therefore, be honest. Saying to make a ton of money is a good

12. Set out one reason why a lawyer should not take up an
extremely unpopular cause defending a clearly identified
terrorist or rapist, for instance. Be careful with this one.

13. Your client shares information with you that is fatal to his case.
He asks that you not disclose it. How would you deal with this
situation? This question has only one correct answer.

14. Define sedition in todays context. Keep in mind current

technology and communication modes.

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15. A trial court convicts a person of a horrendous crime. On the
same evidence, an appeal court comprehensively reverses and
acquits. Where lies the truth?

16. Describe yourself and your life as a lawyer 25 years from now.

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