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A week with Matrix – Ryan’s experience

Matrix has been an absolutely incredible experience. The staff, the site and the barristers are all wonderful and I have felt very welcome during my week here. Unlike other chambers in London, modernity is at the forefront of Matrix’s ethos and I have no choice but to agree with Chambers and Partners in that Matrix is the ‘future of the Bar.’

Monday morning commenced with a tour by Lindsay Clarke who is the HR and Office Manager, she provided a welcome pack which contained a plethora of information about Chambers and the routes in which to become a barrister or solicitor. I met each of the individual teams all of which were proficient and professional at all times, which is one reason why Matrix is one of the best sets in the UK. Later in the morning I went to The Royal Courts of Justice with Lorna Skinner and her pupil Zoe McCallum, the hearing was regarding defamation and was judged before Master McCloud, famous for her recent judgement over £10 million battle with Donald Trump over radicalisation claims. After the hearing Lorna, Zoe and I went to a local sandwich shop where we spoke about reading law at university, traineeships (or pupillages) and the four Inns of Court. Upon my return back to Matrix, I completed a range of admin tasks with the Practice Team, such as dispensing letters to the relevant barristers’ pigeonholes.

Luckily enough I was able to go to court nearly every day during my time at Matrix, and on Tuesday I went to the Central London Country Court with Mathew Purchase and the solicitor involving a case of discrimination. It was interesting to understand the legal process of civil cases in comparison to criminal hearings and trials for which I have experienced in the past. After lunch I was again introduced to the Fees and Finances Team and was given an induction by Eric Ofori-Darko who explained how barristers get their fees via legal aid, private funding and even CFAs (conditional fee agreements). This was incredibly insightful and proved that a career at the Bar might be exceptionally lucrative, especially with CFA cases which are risky but can also be amazingly rewarding.

Wednesday proved to be very exciting; at around 10:00 I made my way to the Rolls Building to the Technology and Construction courts where I met Richard Hermer QC and his junior Edward Craven for a hearing involving Royal Dutch Shell and their subsidiary in Nigeria. The skeleton argument drafted on behalf of the claimant, who Mr Hermer and Mr Craven were representing, helped to break down the legalistic complexities of the hearing and the technical details Mr Hermer and Lord Goldsmith were arguing.

The next day I went to The Royal Courts of Justice with Alice Brighouse, Lindsay Scott’s PA, for several applications, for instance an application for a judicial hearing on the IRA terror attack at Hyde Park concerning one of the perpetrators. This application was mellifluously made by Phillippa Kaufmann QC and her junior Chris Buttler, and the application was accepted. I later spoke to the Legal Support Manager Shams Rahman who described his para-legal work for the barristers, such as extensive research projects and the in-house library to supplement his team’s work.

Friday marked the end of my work experience, where I wrote this blog post, had a mock interview (which included preparation time and feedback) and also an induction with Matrix’s Marketing Team, where I helped to prepare name badges for a network event and learnt about the ways in which Sara Thomson manages her team and promotes Matrix in various ways across the UK and internationally.

The opportunity was fantastic and I’m very grateful for Jason Housden for accepting my application and everyone at Team X like Frankie Penton, Elizabeth Bousher, Zoe Mellor and Simon Gardner and everyone else at Matrix for making me feel comfortable. This has truly inspired me to commit to my dream of becoming a barrister and eventually a silk and I would therefore recommend this experience to anyone wishing for a legal career.