I arrived at Matrix Chambers on Monday morning excited to start my week of work experience. I spent the morning meeting the staff and working on tasks at one of the desks in the office. Everybody that I spoke to from first thing on Monday morning right the way through to Friday afternoon was friendly, welcoming and more than happy to answer any questions and provide me with valuable advice that I know will help me when studying Law at University and applying for jobs in the legal profession in the future. Some of the tasks I completed included reading skeleton arguments and researching current legal news stories. This was extremely beneficial as it allowed me to spend some time getting myself up to date with the current legal affairs whilst also familiarising myself with the layout of legal documents.
I was able to go to court every day for the rest of the week and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I walked with the Outdoor and Office Assistants, who were very friendly and asked me questions about school life and my plans after A Levels. On Tuesday I attended a case at Royal Courts of Justice regarding the Benefit Cap. I saw two of Matrix’s barristers, Helen Mountfield QC and Raj Desai, although they did not speak in court on this occasion. The following day I went back to the Royal Courts of Justice to sit and watch Helen speak on the Benefit Cap and I was very much inspired by her delivery. Although I struggled to follow the discussion and fully understand the arguments being presented throughout the day, Helen’s clear and eloquent argument was much more accessible for someone with my level of legal understanding.
I was further impressed and captivated by Helen’s delivery the following day (Thursday) in The Supreme Court. She was speaking in defence of women’s rights in Northern Ireland, opposing the Anti-abortion law that is currently in place. She argued that the criminalisation of a woman who wishes to terminate her pregnancy is a direct violation of her human rights for a wide variety of reasons: it is degrading and humiliating; it violates her rights to healthcare; it is discrimination as men are not refused necessary healthcare; it is degrading as it undermines the individuals personal decisions and wishes; it highlights a lack of respect for women’s autonomy and suggests they are nothing more than reproductive vessels. The law in Northern Ireland currently states that women are not permitted to undergo an abortion even in circumstances of rape, incest, and foetal abnormalities. Given that I feel very passionately about this situation and feel strongly that women should have the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies and physical and mental well-being, it was a fantastic opportunity to be able to observe this case first hand. Having initially felt that I would most likely want to pursue a career in family or criminal law, I am now very interested in human rights law and its importance in bringing equality and fairness and protection to all.
On Friday, I returned to the Royal Courts of Justice and observed Andrew Bodnar on appeal against order varying restrain order. The case itself was more about principle, given that the third party had left the country and the situation was no longer causing any conflict. Speaking to Andrew outside the court was very interesting and helpful as he gave me a simplified breakdown of his case and the facts that we were about to be told in court. He was very friendly and more than happy to spend time talking to me before he had to speak in court.
Overall, I loved my week at Matrix. The environment was professional but equally relaxed and friendly. I met a range of people and learned about the different jobs in finance, marketing, research and the roles and responsibilities of an office assistant. Going to court was a fantastic experience, not only is it vital for understanding what a Barrister does and how Court actually works, but it has also provided me with a very interesting experience to talk about on my personal statement/CV/in interviews. I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in studying law or perusing a legal career should apply to do a week of work experience with Matrix.