Alex talks about his work experience week
Prior to coming to Matrix, I was unsure of if I wanted to pursue law, as well as what exactly being a lawyer entailed. TV shows and movies always showed a very dramatic portrayal of what went on and I was sceptical of how interesting being a lawyer actually was. I imagined a lot of people poring over books in silence for hours and a generally stuffy atmosphere. I understood, however, that this was just a preconception I had and I wanted to see if it was true. I therefore applied for work experience at Matrix and was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw.
I arrived on Monday and some of my preconceptions were immediately dispelled. The building was modern and fairly inviting, the receptionist was very welcoming and, after meeting the other work experience student, Ben, I was given a tour of the Matrix building and introduced to some of the people I would be watching work. Within the first hour of arriving, we were briskly hustled towards the Royal Courts of Justice by Richard, an Outdoor Assistant who caught us up with how the court process worked. We entered the court and sat in the public gallery to watch an interesting case involving 3 parties. A man (represented by Matrix’s Nick Armstrong) was claiming against the Police and G4S in regards to his claimed mistreatment during an arrest. Part of the hearing had already taken place but due to unforeseen health issues, it had been suspended until this Monday. Despite not understanding much of the medical terminology used by the various barristers, witnesses, experts and the judge, the case still gave me a fascinating insight into the actual world of law. The barristers were interesting and even witty at times. The hearing ended after a fairly long but interesting 6 hours. I was surprised (and a little disappointed) that the judge did not make his decision on the day of the hearing, as one usually sees on TV, but instead mulls over his decision for many weeks before revealing the outcome.
I was much more enthusiastic to arrive on Tuesday morning, intrigued by what the day would bring. We started the day by being whizzed to an employment tribunal by Anthony, who gave us some valuable insight into what happens behind the scenes in regards to the logistics of a case. Despite arriving fairly confident, the case was postponed 1 hour into the hearing due to a variety of factors, including the fact that the claimant lacked legal representation and was facing some personal issues at the time. We returned a little disheartened but James Laddie QC regaled us with some of his previous cases and lifted our spirits once again. We helped out with some miscellaneous office tasks and were then given an amazing Finance induction by Eric who showed us how Barristers managed finances and the very lucrative salaries that could be gained from winning big cases.
We spent Wednesday and Thursday watching a case regarding SEN funding in the UK. The courtroom was so full that some people had to sit on floors and tables in order to watch the case unfold. We had the privilege of watching Sir James Eadie QC, the UK “Treasury Devil”, assisted by 2 others, including Matrix’s Sarah Hannett, defend against the claims being made. All parties were clearly sympathetic towards the claimants being represented and some great points were put by all sides.
On Friday we completed some more inductions and found interest in various aspects of what the chambers do. We had a mock interview which was really fun and helped us develop our skills (and shamelessly brag about our achievements). Finally, we had coffee and cake with some trainees at Matrix which allowed us to ask any questions we had about pursuing law in the future and how to proceed.
I really enjoyed my week at Matrix and it has definitely allowed me to reconsider whether or not I’d like to pursue law in the future. I was surprised that in many cases the hearing ended up being like a conversation between the judge and barrister, rather than the much more intimidating image I had in my head. It also helped me understand that at the end of the day, whether it is lawyers, judges or clients, they are all human and law is about helping them out. I would wholeheartedly recommend the Matrix work experience to anyone with even the very slightest interest in law.