With family members (and several hundred hours of legal TV dramas) to supply me with an insight into the world of law I had always held an interest in the field. However I knew very little about the work of a barrister and had no idea what to expect. As a result, in the run up to my week of work experience at Matrix I was both intrigued and apprehensive, envisaging a fast paced and potentially overwhelming work environment. On arriving at Matrix on Monday morning, my worries immediately subsided.
On being greeted by Zuwaina, the receptionist, and another work experience student, I was instantly struck by the friendly and comfortable atmosphere at Matrix. I then met Liz, a Senior Practice Manager, and was introduced to several of her colleagues; the next thing I knew I was being whisked off to my first court case by Richard. Observing the case, a dispute between a Post Office and claimants over complications concerning newly introduced software, was an incredibly interesting first insight into commercial law and the sheer amount of work that goes into building a case. Following this, we returned to Chambers and Richard took a group of us on a tour of Gray’s Inn. I was struck by the historical significance and beauty of the area. Following this, we returned to Chambers and did a judging online resource and read the skeleton argument for a case we were to see the next day.
Tuesday provided more insight into the range of work a barrister can do as we spent the day shadowing Raza Husain QC in his case at the Royal Courts of Justice. The case involved an appeal between the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Respondent (represented by Raza), discussing the definition of a refugee and the rights granted by this. I found the day incredibly interesting, especially as we were able to see the process in between sessions in addition to the actual events in court. Seeing a Matrix barrister in action was an incredible experience, especially seeing his ability to react to observations from the Judges and the Appellant on the spot.
I had heard a lot about the prestige of the Supreme Court and on finding out on Wednesday morning that I would be observing a hearing there I was ecstatic. We jumped into a black cab and were dropped off outside the Houses of Parliament. With court to commence shortly, we took our seats and observed the case involving The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and an Appellant over alleged discrimination in the application of housing benefit for an adult couple living with a disability. This was an extremely different experience to the other cases I had seen so far, especially as in addition to the two sides, there were two Interveners, one of which was the Equality and Human Rights Commission, represented by Matrix Barrister, Dan Squires QC. This was an extremely interesting case which considered many ethical and technical issues.
I spent the majority of Thursday in Chambers with the lovely management team. I researched charities for an event being held by Matrix and as a result was able to see the extent of the charitable work Matrix carries out. Liz then gave me a tour of the buildings in which I met more of the staff at Matrix and was able to see more of the Chambers. In addition to this, I met with one of Matrix’s barristers, Antony White QC, and I was able to hear about his experiences at Matrix and also gained valuable advice concerning university and how to specialise as a barrister. Later in the day I also met with Tim, a trainee at Matrix. Over a slice of delicious cake, Tim talked me through the work of a trainee and the pathway to becoming a barrister. The day was extremely valuable as I was able to hear first-hand experiences of those at different stages in their careers and I left feeling more informed on what it takes to become a barrister.
On my final day at Matrix I was yet again presented with another fascinating court case concerning confidentiality within travel companies; one of the parties was represented by two Matrix barristers. I found this case especially interesting as there were many parties involved meaning it was very fast moving and really showed how complex and challenging a hearing can be.
Overall, my week at Matrix provided me with a constantly engaging, challenging and thought provoking look into the world of law. It was especially enjoyable because of the friendly and welcoming environment at Matrix. I can’t thank everybody at Matrix enough for being so wonderful and making my week extremely memorable.