My week at Matrix has initiated me to the wide variety of people, courts and topics under the broad umbrella of ‘English Law’. Arriving on Monday, I was apprehensive that the staff would be cold and unwilling to co-operate with a mere sixth-form student; however, upon being introduced to the teams of clerks, marketers, secretaries and paralegals, my fears were quashed. I found the staff were incredibly approachable and willing to answer any questions we threw at them- no matter how trivial. The offices too were contrary to the antiquated stereotypes promoted in legal dramas with plenty of natural light, white walls and a general relaxed ambience undoubtedly contributed to by the staffs more casual dress code.
Monday morning’s task of arranging flights for a barrister was cut short by the advanced timing of a case at the Old Bailey. We swiftly hopped into a taxi and were whisked off to the court complying fully with their no phones policy – something incredibly alien to a group of teenagers! There we watched the awe-inspiring Mark Summers QC in a sentencing introducing me to the clarity demanded by criminal advocacy. A further skill learnt was striking a balance between manoeuvring ourselves on the oak benches to relieve our pins and needles whilst muting the rambunctious creaking from the ancient wood! Lunch was followed by the sentencing and we returned back to Matrix enlightened by the whole experience.
Although also attending court on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal was vastly different to the Old Bailey. There we watched Tim Owen QC involved in a judicial view where nuanced points of law were debated in the light of recent cases demonstrating the flexibility of our laws. Much like Summers, Owen was eloquent and assertive, impressively responding to the three judges’ characteristic ‘grilling’. It was also particularly reassuring to see multiple other work experience students from other firms since it meant I was not the only person rapidly looking up legal terms in the lunch break! Post court we strolled back to Matrix where we were sent home simply because it had been a long day, reinforcing my view of Matrix’ relaxed atmosphere.
Due to open days and exams I was not in the office on Wednesday and half of Thursday; consequently, when I arrived mid lunch break on Thursday I was astonished to discover I would be taken to a free Lebanese lunch with all the staff and members in a nearby building. This lunch was particularly revealing: I sat between a QC and a clerk and it was only when I went on the Matrix website afterwards that I discovered who was who, affirming Matrix’ core values of progressivism and inclusion and undermining the hierarchy I assumed existed in all chambers. These notions again were reiterated by my afternoon activities: an introduction with a female court clerk, coffee with a trainee who did not enter the bar fresh from university and affixing braille to staff business cards.
On Friday, instead of taking the stuffy journey on the central line, we were told to meet at Westminster Magistrate’s Court, permitting me the luxury of the far cooler Bakerloo line. There we witnessed another of the assertive and professional Mark Summers QC’s cases which exposed a new and unfamiliar aspect of the law for me: the role of the magistrate. Following adjournment, we battled the sweltering central line and treated ourselves to lunch in Gray’s Inn Fields, narrowly avoiding sitting in the path of a sprinkler. Lunch was followed by a mock interview which cemented my confidence in my own skills whilst providing me with critical feedback essential for future interviews both for university and jobs.
In summary, my week at Matrix has been eye-opening and rewarding, refuelling my ambitions both to study law and practise as a barrister. It has also revealed the dynamism of law and also confirmed for me that Matrix as a set equipped with a brilliant set of diverse people with progressivism and meritocratic values at the forefront of its work. I express my greatest gratitude to Natalie and Rachel for assisting us this week.