Experiencing Work and Life in India

This summer I had the opportunity to work as an intern with the firm J. Sagar and Associates in Gurgaon, India, a suburb of New Delhi. I got the job by talking to a former KU Law student, Aqmar Rahman, who had done the same program. I went with the hope of working in international trade law and experiencing a new culture.

Baumgartner visiting the Baha'i House of Worship

Baumgartner visiting the Baha’i House of Worship in New Delhi.

I worked alongside 10 other interns, all from various parts of India. This turned out to be quite the stroke of luck. In terms of work, the other interns helped me navigate the Indian legal landscape, introducing me to Westlaw India and explaining how to find government agency orders, a common work project. Outside of work, the other interns did everything from teach me Hindi phrases to help me catch buses. We ate lunch together in our building’s top-floor café with a nice view of the city.

The work itself, like most legal work in my experience so far, ranged from the exciting to the technical. In the former category were advising the head competition law partner on a question of U.S. antitrust law and researching state requirements for setting up an alcohol manufacturing plant, while the latter included a tedious calculation of the average time the EU Competition Commission has taken to review mergers over the past three years. I did a variety of legal research projects–looking up government orders, exploring antitrust issues, and examining factors influencing and inhibiting the growth of the Indian logistics sector.

My most enriching project was researching the tax laws on setting up an alcohol manufacturing facility in different Indian states. I didn’t have any background in tax law or Indian law, but after learning how to navigate Indian research tools, I was able to find answers. The project gave me the feeling that if I can figure out something like this, which I had absolutely no clue about before I started, I can probably figure out most things.

In addition to work, I was thankful for the opportunity to travel and experience the Indian culture. In just this small area of the country, there was an incredible amount of religious, linguistic and culinary diversity. The fact that India can function as a democracy with this kind of diversity never ceased to amaze me. I was able to see the Taj Mahal and the Sikh’s Golden Temple and went on a memorable three-day hiking and camping adventure in the Himalayas. I also went ice skating in a mall with my fellow interns, something I certainly hadn’t expected to do in India.

Regardless of the specific project, since J. Sagar is a “big law” firm in India, practically all the work involved an international component or some nationwide matter. I enjoyed being exposed to these big-picture issues, and the experience helped me realize that I may enjoy working in a large firm. Many thanks to J. Sagar for making this experience possible for me.

-Ben Baumgartner is a third-year law student from Hesston, Kansas.