I arrived at Matrix on Monday at 9am, the day began with an introduction, which gave us a brief overview of what we can expect from the week ahead. Then we were taken upstairs and we were introduced to the rest of the team. All the members of staff were incredibly polite and welcoming, the environment was immediately less daunting. We spent around half an hour reading through and signing a few documents, and giving emergency contact details should they be needed. Next, we were given a number of tasks to complete which gave us a greater understanding of each of the roles within the Chambers. I quickly realised how important each role is to keep the firm operating smoothly and how all the work is not done by Barristers. Each department gave us a series of tasks which helped us understand their jobs better, such as the task from Fees & Finance. This task involved researching details about the different type of cases, like Legal Aid, Conditional Fee Agreements etc. Another example of a task we were given is a Barrister’s itinerary for travel and we were asked to plan flights and hotels for their trip. This gave me insight into just how busy and hectic a Barrister’s life can be. We were also told at the end of the day that we would be going into the Supreme Court tomorrow.
On Tuesday, we were given a skeleton of the argument of the case we were going to see that day. This made me very excited as I had never been into a court room before, let alone the Supreme Court. Once we were in the court, we had to go through security. The case was about immigration. Matrix’s client had been living in the country unlawfully as her visa as a student expired in 1997. The Barrister was Hugh Southey QC. We were introduced to him before the case began. The case started at 10:30, the barrister for matrix advocated well and his argument lasted around 2 hours. Once we had had lunch, the other barrister advocated and the trial was over by around 3:30. We got a cab back to the firm and then we were given tasks to take us up to 5pm when we went home for the day.
The next morning we were given another overview of the case we would be seeing that day, we were going to the Royal Courts of Justice to witness a judicial review take place. This helped me to understand how Barristers can advocate on a variety of cases. The case was regarding an appeal where a Primary School was using the community hall and the council deemed it wrong as the community hall was to be for the public’s use. We walked down to the courtroom with a Barrister called David Wolfe QC. He was very polite and welcoming and made a conscious effort to get to know us and initiate conversation which was lovely. When we got back to the firm we read up on the final case we were to see the next day.
The next day we were taken to court quite early on, at around half past nine. Once we got to the court, we were introduced to a trainee Barrister called Emma. She was exceptionally polite and happy to answer any questions we had about becoming a barrister. This particular case was tried by a Paul Nicholls QC. He was fairly unlucky as the judges were unconvinced by his argument and denied the appeal without even hearing the defendant’s argument. This was helpful as it gave us insight into how difficult a case can be to advocate, but in some situations the barrister may not have a choice but to take a case where they might lose.
On Friday, we began the day by writing a blog post of our week at Matrix then we had a mock interview which helped us to understand how we should conduct ourselves in a professional situation. Then we went out for coffee with two trainee Barristers, Emma (who we met the day before) and Natasha. We asked as many questions as we wanted and got a great insight into what training is really like.
Overall, the week at Matrix was incredibly helpful as it gave me my first taste as to what being a Barrister entails. I got to see and do all the things I hoped this week would bring. The week was very enjoyable and I have learned things that I will definitely not forget.