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Riya talks about her work experience week

Law has always been an interest in my family with my father studying law at university and older brothers who were both interested in it. This meant that from a young age, I have had exposure to different areas of the profession and thought that the best way to decide what I wanted to do was to go out and find work experience of my own. Gaining this place at Matrix was particularly exciting due to the fact that they specialise in many different areas of law, meaning that I could decide what areas interested me and what didn’t.

Arriving first thing on a Monday morning, I was greeted by friendly members of the team before being handed folders and being whisked off to court. Despite how hectic it seemed at first being thrown straight in, it was an experience that not many others have been privileged to have, being able to witness a case in court. We went to the Employment Tribunal where the case was led by Andrew Smith. It included claims of an unfair dismissal (related to sex and race). Even though we only got to see one day out of 25, we were able to appreciate just how much effort goes into each case, seeing the masses of folders in the courtroom. Despite it being a long first day, it was extremely insightful as we were able to learn new things right from the start.

On Tuesday, we went to the Royal Courts of Justice for the first time, a completely different courtroom setting to that of the first day. This time, the case was led by Sarah Hannett and Nathan Roberts, who were representing the government and Secretary of State for health and social care. The case involved a child who was born via surrogate, but the surrogate kept the child. She has subsequently been listed as the mother despite not having any genetic relation to the child and her husband is listed as the father. This was an extremely interesting and unique case, one that I definitely didn’t expect to be witnessing. Admittedly, there was a lot of legal jargon which made it hard to follow at times, but when walking back to the Chambers, Sarah and Nathan were able to explain it to me which was very helpful. At the end of the day, I sat with Frank, who is the Head of Facilities and he showed me a programme that was able to track who was entering different areas of the building, which was very spy-like.

On Wednesday morning, we were given tasks related to law which encouraged us to read articles and summarise them, whilst presenting an argument for both sides and reach a justified conclusion. After a court run, we were taken to the Royal Courts of Justice once again, this time to witness an immigration case with Hugh Southey QC. Despite being in Court 1, it wasn’t nearly as fancy as one would expect. This case was about claimants from Pakistan and Nigeria who said they’d experienced ill-treatment in their own countries and subsequently suffered PTSD in British prisons, which wasn’t being treated because it couldn’t. At lunch, Hugh was very detailed when explaining parts of the case that we didn’t understand, allowing us to follow it better in the second half. Returning from court allowed us to spend time with the Fees and Finance team and we learnt how the Barristers get paid for their time and some of the hourly rates of the top barristers in the firm.

When we arrived on Thursday morning, Rebecca was able to give us an induction into the Legal Support Service team, which is a team unique to Matrix, but similar to that of paralegals. Afterwards, we were taken back to the Royal Courts of Justice with Chris Buttler who was trying to ensure his client’s release from a detention centre. Arguably, this case was much easier to follow than those in previous days. We got to speak to him about the case and his route into law, discovering that he actually studied Geography at Cambridge prior to studying law, a route that I am also looking to take.

Our final day on Friday was spent in the office, completing tasks from previous days whilst experiencing mock interviews. These interviews were extremely beneficial as we were provided with feedback and told how to improve had it been a proper interview. We were even treated to a donut too!

This work experience placement was unlike any other as it was extremely organised (as we were equipped with skeletons prior to attending court) and we got lots of exposure to many different cases, giving us a well-rounded experience. We also got an insight into many varied professions within the chambers. It was a much more relaxed office environment than I originally anticipated. I would like to thank all those involved in our experience at Matrix for being extremely welcoming and helping us to have an enjoyable time!