I arrived at Matrix on Monday morning feeling considerably nervous, but these nerves were soon expelled as I was greeted kindly by the receptionist, Carrie, and introduced to the other work experience student. We were then given an introductory talk by Alice, the HR and Office manager, and made to feel very welcome as we were introduced to everyone in the office. We were given desks and then introduced to the Legal Support Service Officer, Rachel. She explained her role to us, showed us the library and then gave us some tasks to complete. These were activities such as summarising a recent Supreme Court judgement and giving a reasoned explanation as to which law we would change. I found these tasks very interesting as they introduced me to legal websites and allowed me to explore legislation such as articles in the ECHR. This was useful as I had the chance to develop my explanation and evaluation skills whilst practising working quickly. This was a skill that I was repeatedly practising over the week as I was given tasks and told a collective deadline meaning I had to determine how to best manage my time. We then got given a task to make a poster on National Stress Awareness Month. This gave us the opportunity to find out more about the atmosphere of Matrix and the steps that they take to ensure they’re combating the problem of workplace stress. We then had a talk with the fees team and were given a task surrounding legal aid, CFAs, and the funding of criminal cases. This was extremely interesting to me as it gave me the chance to research topics I hadn’t heard of before and get an explanation from people that are well-versed in the subject. Although this day was full of activity, none of it was over-whelming due to the friendly environment of the chambers.
When I arrived on Tuesday I finished the fees task and sent it to the fees team who gave me feedback on my work. We then went to the Royal Courts of Justice with the Office and Outdoor Assistant, Rob, who showed us to the court room where we watched an employment law case. This was interesting as the case finished and judgment was given without one of the barristers even giving his argument. These visits to court opened my eyes as to how the court actually works as I wasn’t aware of how the Court of Appeals functions; it was surprising as it was less arguing and more of an explanation of the main points. We then had a talk with the Assistant Practise Manager, Steve, and followed him round as he worked. This gave me a better insight as to what goes on behind the scenes of the court hearings and allowed me to see the barristers as real people. Then Rachel, the Marketing Manager, gave us the task of finding a venue for the Christmas party.
On Wednesday we spent all day at court watching a trial about a housing scheme and discrimination; we returned to watch the opposing barrister give his statement on Thursday morning. When we returned to Matrix we continued to look for venues and talked to the Equality and Diversity Manager, Isabel. She gave us the task of creating a presentation outlining a campaign to encourage diversity in legal professions. As this is one of the major values held by Matrix I found it gratifying to be able to give suggestions on what action should be taken. The presentation also gave me a chance to practise my skills at persuasion and explaining an idea concisely. Afterwards we received feedback on our presenting skills and our ideas.
On the last day we finished the search for a venue and prepared and took an interview. This was extremely useful as it gave me a chance to do something new in a comfortable environment and receive helpful feedback. I also liked this exercise as, although it sounded daunting, the task given was enjoyable and helped me to build my problem solving skills. We also had the chance to have coffee and cake with a trainee barrister which allowed us the opportunity to ask about the process of becoming a barrister and get advice on how to make a successful application.
Overall, this week was insightful and interesting and I’m very thankful to everyone at Matrix that has made it so. I was undecided on what type of lawyer I wanted to become before this week and, although I don’t suddenly have a complete understanding of what I want to do, it has been very helpful in giving me an insight of what it means to be a barrister.