“A unique and rewarding opportunity” – Liberty’s week at Matrix

My week at Matrix began promptly at 9am on Monday morning. Upon arrival, I was given an induction by Lindsay and Alice which really helped me to feel at ease. I was quickly assigned a desk amongst Team X where there was a very friendly and supportive working environment.  Within an hour of arrival, Emily (the other work experience student) and I were on our way to the Royal Courts of Justice. Once there, it afforded us the opportunity to witness an interesting case involving special advocates and a third party. In the afternoon, once back at Chambers, we were given the printed case for an appeal we would be watching in the Supreme court the next day. This made for some challenging but rewarding reading!

On Tuesday, we spent the day at the Supreme court witnessing an appeal. Matrix was representing both sides, with Thomas Linden QC representing the appellant, Pimlico Plumbers Ltd, and Karon Monaghan QC representing the respondent, Gary Smith. This was a highly interesting case regarding employment contracts and the difference between an independent contractor and a worker in the eyes of the law. Both barristers spoke very eloquently and excitement was heightened by the fact the case was covered in the news that evening. Furthermore, it was certainly an honour to see Lady Hale in action.

On Wednesday, we spent the morning at court again. This time we were at the Royal Courts of Justice listening to a case concerning the treatment of victims of human trafficking. Unfortunately, we did not see Helen Mountfield QC speak on this occasion however it was still a captivating few hours. The involvement of the judges within an appeal setting was also something I had not expected. Once we arrived back at Matrix after lunch, we met with Sabrina from the fees and finance team. She was very informative as she explained to us the role of her team. This was useful because it helped me to understand how a chambers works in order to support the barristers as well as learn more about the different types of cases and their payments, from legal aid to pro bono.

Thursday began with a short walk to the Central Criminal Court. I was particularly excited to visit this court and it definitely lived up to my expectations. We began by observing a murder charge which had been picked up again after the defendant had been extradited from the USA. Seeing the in depth analysis and explanation of CCTV footage was most enlightening. Afterwards, I briefly sat in on a case whilst an eye witness was recounting their version of events. This was particularly engaging and I certainly appreciated the fact the trials at the Old Bailey were jury trials, since it made them much more understandable without all the legalese! We returned to chambers for lunch as we were kindly invited to partake in their weekly lunch which is provided by Matrix. In the afternoon, we were informed by Polly about her roles and responsibilities as part of the legal support service. Their tasks, which include assembling research bundles for court and updating the barristers on current legal decisions, are unique to Matrix and are unequivocally successful in making the barristers lives more manageable. Polly also gave us some tasks to complete regarding the Human Rights act and laws we feel need changing.

On our final day, we walked to the Thomas Moore building in order to watch Jessica Jones speak on behalf of a claimant in a strike out hearing. She spoke very well and afterwards she made the effort to walk us back to chambers. I thoroughly enjoyed this walk as she answered some of the questions we’d stored throughout the week. After lunch, we continued completing  the tasks we had been set whilst having a chat with some of Team X, such as Frankie and Simon. We finished the week by partaking in a coffee chat with Lea, an associate to Philippe Sands. The conversation was very insightful as we learnt a lot about working in international law and alternative routes into the legal profession, as opposed to the classic solicitor/barrister scenario.

I would thoroughly recommend this experience to anyone who is considering law or even if you’re currently undecided about the path you want to take. I can wholeheartedly vouch for the fact that this is a unique and rewarding opportunity which is guaranteed to open your eyes to the reality of the legal working world, as opposed to the information you’ve derived from watching Suits! I’d like to give a massive thanks to everyone I have met throughout the week who welcomed us with open arms.