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Siimran talks about her week at Matrix

My week at Matrix has been truly inspirational into gaining direct experience of what life as a barrister in a chambers entails. Immediately upon arrival I was greeted warmly by the staff who introduced us to HR Manager Alice who provided us with tasks throughout our time being here. She then gave us a brief introduction and took us straight to Southwark Crown Court.

As this was our first time at a court, we were both hesitant on what to expect. Our presumptions were that barristers would be solely working on paper in court and that the environment would be of a traditional appearance, however, many barristers were operating on laptops and on entrance we gained further insight into how the court structure works. Coming back to the office, we were presented to Polly who is part of the Legal Support Service team. She talked us though her role of assisting each of the barristers and team members with the research (e.g. bundles, cases, reports, articles, blogs etc.)

On the second and third day we were fortunate enough to witness Phillippa Kaufman QC in the High Court of Justice. The case was about the Undercover Policing Inquiry which has been in the news for the past few years. Due to this, we conducted prior research about the inquiry online that gave us a brief introduction into the legality of the issue. The essence of the case encouraged us both to adapt our mind-sets from thinking about what is morally vs legally right. Phillippa was exceptionally remarkable and strategic in the way her argument against the defendant was placed. Her unique and gripping tone attracted us to stay alert for the whole day which completely contrasted with the approach of the barrister on the defendant’s side. As the curious case unfolded, it became additionally appealing when we got to talk to Phillippa herself. Her well-grounded etiquette and straight forward personality broke down the negative stereotypes of what I perceived barristers to be like. All of the barristers I have met during the course of the week have been tremendously helpful and kind. By witnessing this it drives us to pursue our ambitions of a career in law as the Matrix team have been genuine role models.

While entering Matrix we were familiarised to the many aspects of the Chambers such as finance (Eric), LSS, marketing and events (Rachel), fees (Eric). Each of these teams thoughtfully explained the construction of their work; this interested us both as barristers appear to be completely autonomous in their approach to court cases however this was not the reality.

On the fourth day we were taken to the Central London Employment Tribunal with James Laddie QC. Again, we were given a skeleton argument briefly outlining the case. The dispute in this case was between His Highness Sheikh Khalid and an employee he had who claims the Sheikh should have been the person to deduct taxes from her payments as she was employed and not self-employed. The Sheikh disagreed. As the claimant had been cross-examined by Laddie on the previous day, we observed His Highness getting cross examined. The immense pressure the opposition was encountering due to the fact that the claimant consistently lied to the tribunal the day before, caused their solicitor who was questioning the Sheikh to deteriorate. This was compelling to discover as by watching strong figures such as Phillippa, it taught us that keeping a calm mind and robust attitude can acquire the outcome you want to achieve.

As we spoke to James Laddie after the case, he gave us a good overview of the situation so far and what struggles he encountered. Overall, he denoted a down-to-earth and very friendly attitude.

On our last day we were able to complete a mock interview with Alice and Sydney. I felt this opportunity was helpful in producing a situation of how we would be interviewed for aspects of law in real life. Later on, we were able to meet two trainee barristers who were humorous and very accommodating. They gave advice on what they do and the variety of cases they cover.

Overall this week has produced a tremendously insightful application of how far a legal career can take you; this accounts not only for bar work but other aspects such as solicitors, paralegals, and more. I am immensely thankful for the experience I have received while being here. The staff were exceptional in the way they presented the way they respond to their work load and how they keep a light atmosphere in a busy office. The opportunity to work and meet alongside talented barristers was unforgettable and I thoroughly recommend this experience for anyone deciding to become a barrister or would like to see how a chambers work.