Matt Newis completed a week of Work Experience back in 2004. He then worked his way up the organisation and now works at Matrix as one of the Practice Assistants, which is an amazing achievement. Here is his story:
“As a 14 year-old school boy, I dreamed of a career as a barrister. I’d seen them standing in Court on TV, and always thought ‘I could do that’. I was very interested in the law, and lawyers always appeared to get paid a fortune, so straight away I knew it was the career for me.
So, when I had to complete two weeks of compulsory work experience at the end of Year 10, I knew where I wanted to do it – a barristers’ chambers. I decided to do 1 week in a chambers and 1 week in a solicitors firm – just to prove to myself that it was definitely a barrister I wanted to be rather than a solicitor.
I applied to lots of chambers, but found it more of a struggle than I’d expected – they only seemed to offer placements (or mini-pupillages) to university students. But, I thought, surely I need to know before I get that far what it’s actually like?! So, I scoured the internet for chambers that would offer a placement to school students, and found Matrix.
Having read about the exciting work Matrix did, I took time to fill out my application, making it really clear as to why I wanted to experience life at Matrix. I was luckily successful in my application and, on 5th July 2004, I turned up to Matrix’ reception – absolutely petrified as to what all the important people in the building would think of little Matt from Kent!
I immediately felt welcomed into the organisation and, following my induction, went straight down to the Royal Courts of Justice with one of the office juniors. I was so excited – rushing down to court with the barristers’ papers on a trolley – I then spent the day at Court watching the first day of a high profile murder trial. I was fascinated. It wasn’t like on TV (the pace was a lot slower) – but it was so real and exciting.
I spent my second day in the Admin room with the various busy staff and helped with general administrative tasks such as photocopying, filing, making bundles of authorities (past cases which barristers rely upon in Court to support their arguments) and helping with the post. I also helped the reception team prepare rooms for client meetings, and really enjoyed being part of the team.
The rest of my week was spent divided between attending Court and helping with administrative tasks back at Matrix and, to my surprise, I actually found life in the Admin room to be equally as exciting as my experiences at Court. I helped serve bundles of documents at Court and deliver them to other Chambers in advance of cases – so I was out and about for much of the day, and discovered lots of parts of London I’d never seen before. I was given a lot more responsibility than I had expected too. I remember finding my lunch break a strange concept – I could actually leave the building (unlike school) and nobody minded where I went! The sense of freedom was incredible and I strongly believe I grew up more in that week than I had in the few years before that.
Although I was devastated that my week had come to an end, I was excited about my experience the following week at a solicitors firm (which I can assure you didn’t come anywhere near as close for me).
A few years later, following my GCSEs and AS-Levels, it came to ‘UCAS’ time. I just wasn’t convinced though – I had changed my mind over time about what I wanted to do with my life (suddenly the only thing that interested me was learning to drive!) and wasn’t really sure that being a self-employed barrister was right for me. I didn’t fancy university – at least not at that point. I wanted to get on with my life and be an adult – and couldn’t bear the thought of any more education!
Then one day, in a bid to do anything except from work on my A-Level coursework deadline, and having watched what felt like nearly every video on YouTube, I clicked on Matrix’ website. I saw that they were advertising for the role of an Outdoor and Office Assistant to start that September. I immediately smiled, remembering how much fun that had been, and knew I had to apply. I dropped off my application form, and was lucky enough to be offered an interview that August. I had my interview, and went straight to the airport to meet my friends to fly to Malia for our long-awaited post-exam holiday! I received a phone call on my third day from Matrix offering me the job! So, as if we needed a reason, went out to celebrate!
The rest is history. I started at Matrix as an Outdoor and Office Assistant (known as a junior clerk in other chambers) on 18 September 2006, and have since worked my way up to my current role of Senior Practice Assistant. I now help look after a team of 21 barristers (including 7 QCs) and am very involved in managing their diaries, negotiating and agreeing their fees, fixing trials at Court and helping with the promotion and development of their practices. I have learned a lot ‘on the job’ and have continued to pursue my own personal development, having recently completed a specialist qualification in my role, ‘Advanced Award in Clerking and Chambers Administration’ in which I came top of my year. I was honoured to be presented with the ‘John Carter Memorial Award’ at the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks Annual Awards Ceremony. I also hope to complete a degree, part-time, in the near future – and I know that Matrix will support me fully with that.
I really have found that this career is perfect for me – and without my week at Matrix all those years ago, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”