When I received the email accepting my application for work experience at Matrix, I was instantly excited. In the lead up to the week, however, doubts began to creep into my mind; apprehension about whether I would be dressed correctly, be intimidated and looked down upon, or if I would actually find it interesting!
When I arrived on Monday, all but one of my doubts were firmly pushed aside, by the welcoming staff and friendly atmosphere of the office. The only doubt that remained was the question of if I would enjoy it, but after seeing the timetable for the week, and quickly being rushed to court to watch Ben Silverstone, that last doubt was quashed and I knew that I was going to enjoy my time here! Firstly, I was given a Skeleton Argument which outlined the points that Silverstone wished to argue, which was extremely helpful as it would go on to help me translate the confusing legal jargon in the Court proceedings. The short walk to the High Courts of Justice was filled with an interesting conversation with a friendly Office and Outdoor Assistant who gave me an insight into what it was like to work in the legal sector. I spent the day watching a Civil law case unfold, which turned out to be very fascinating and informative, in which I got to see Silverstone’s eloquent talking. My first day in Court wholly abolished all my false preconceptions, from TV programmes and films, of what Court was like. It is certain to say that it is much less dramatic than in the films, and I was unaware as to how each side’s case was similar to a presentation by the barrister, where the judge asked questions throughout.
Tuesday brought another court case, this time an issue regarding civil rights, and subsequently, another day spent in the High Courts of Justice. Despite the slight tedium during the reading of legislation in the morning, the intensity increased in the afternoon, where I saw my first witness being examined and cross-examined. Interspersed with Mark Greaves’ hectic schedule, I fortunately was permitted to listen in to a meeting he had with his clients, and gain an insight into the true work of a Barrister. Mark was extremely approachable and eradicated the stereotype of barristers being cold and aloof.
Wednesday was spent in the office, learning more about the different teams which operate to make a chambers run smoothly. We learnt everything from how the Fees and Finance team work, which was surprisingly fascinating, to the tasks that the Practice Team carry out, even completing a job relating to live cases occurring in courts! The day concluded with a research task set by the Legal Support Service team which provoked lots of thought, and required me to explain all of my choices – a crucial skill for a barrister.
On Thursday, I was back in Court, however this time, it was at the Old Bailey. The whole day was consumed with a fraud case where fortunately, I got to watch the Examination, and Cross-Examination of both the defendant, and his wife. The closing speeches gave a wonderful insight into the defining characteristics of each set of barristers. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the final judgement, and sentencing, however Matrix were more than happy to inquire about the result of the case for me.
The week was concluded in the office, where I was given a practice interview which gave me constructive feedback, and allowed me to gain experience in interview skills which will certainly aid me in the future. Also, I had the privilege of having coffee with Tim and Julie, the trainee barristers on pupillage at Matrix, who revealed all the truths of what it’s like on pupillage – it’s not as ominous as it sounds – and how they got there. It was incredibly helpful to gain advice on what I should be doing now, and the possible paths to get into the profession.
As someone who has had an interest in becoming a lawyer since I could walk, I was really looking forward to gaining some experience and information about that field of work. My time at Matrix has solidified my desire to become a barrister, and has provided me with invaluable knowledge and skills which will help me pursue my ambition. I have learnt that despite the obvious hard work and stress at times that come with this profession, it is sincerely rewarding. It was so lovely to meet everyone at Matrix, and I feel honoured to have been able to complete my work experience here.