After a very warm welcome from Lindsay Clarke and a brief introduction to the rest of the team I was whisked off to the Royal Courts of Justice where I witnessed the first day of an extremely interesting public international case. The case concerned two Iraqi citizens who claimed that at the beginning of the Iraq war in early 2003 they were unlawfully detained and assaulted by the British forces. I never expected my GCSE History knowledge to be so directly required, but it was thanks to this general context and Richard Hermer QC’s clear and engaging opening that I surprisingly found the case reasonably comprehensible – or at least the one day that I saw!
I was very lucky to attend not one, but two highly fascinating cases at my time at Matrix. The second was a case involving several Matrix barristers including Hugh Southey QC, Danny Freidman QC and Helen Mountfield QC in which three respondents, currently subjects to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures, sought the reduction in severity of these conditions. Seeing so many talented and experienced barristers all involved in a single case was a very rewarding and motivating experience, not least because I think it may have been as close to the over-glamorised TV portrayal of law as is physically possible! Additionally, I was secretly ecstatic to have been asked to leave a different case on the Wednesday morning after the barristers agreed to make the court closed (meaning the public could not attend) as I knew this meant I had a chance of returning to the TPIM case.
Following these two dramatic experiences, team T, who organised my itinerary for the week, were eager to ensure that I also saw the less high profile side to life as a barrister and consequently planned for me to go to an asylum and immigration hearing with Eleanor Mitchell on Friday. Eleanor was unbelievably willing to answer my questions and explain anything to me, especially considering her extremely busy schedule and for that reason Friday morning was one of the most informative aspects of my week at Matrix.
In between court visits I spent time at the Matrix offices, attempting to help the staff with their work but invariably ending up as the one being helped due to everyone’s enthusiasm in telling me all about their work and answering my questions. From marketing to fees & finance to legal support services, I learnt about components of a chambers that I didn’t even know existed – although this extensive system is uniquely existent at Matrix due to their modernity for a law chambers. The atmosphere was fantastic and everyone seemed to get along so well and thoroughly enjoy work.
I must extend a huge thank you to everyone at Matrix including the staff team, the barristers and the office assistants who happily and helpfully chatted to me on our way to court each morning while they pushed their bundle trollies across the cobbles of Gray’s Inn and I stood by useless! Team T’s Steve, Chris, Carla and Paul made sure to welcome me into the staff team, including a Matrix lunch on Thursday, as well as ensuring that I was sufficiently busy throughout, even taking me on a quick visit to the charming Lincoln’s Inn library.
For anyone considering applying for work experience at Matrix but disengaged by the prospect of spending five days in a creaky, old fashioned building where you’ll be condemned to making teas and coffees and photocopying all week, apply! I certainly didn’t touch the photocopier nor kettle all week – although on second thoughts I’m sure a round of teas would have been much appreciated!