I have always been interested in having a legal career, from enjoying a little debate every now and then to watching courtroom dramas. Yet, I did not have much knowledge to get a clear idea of exactly what type of jobs are available in the law sector. Having completed a one week work experience placement at Matrix has provided a great and useful insight into the different aspects of working in law.
In spite of the rainy weather, it did not do anything to dampen my excitement in having the chance to temporarily be a part of the working environment in a barrister’s chambers. I was welcomed with a friendly greeting by the receptionist as I walked through the doors of Matrix and was taken up to the second floor by Eleni Mitrophanous where I was introduced to various members of staff who were supporting the barristers behind the scenes. I also met Jess who I was working alongside for the whole week and we got on well together. We were then given a tour of the building by Rachel, who looked after us for the week. As for the tasks we carried out on our first day, there was an event happening on Wednesday, so our job was to fill goodie bags with things like books on the topic of online publication claims. We successfully completed packaging 180 bags and headed off to lunch. We went back to chambers at 2pm where we met with Rachel from Legal Support Service, who conduct the research for the barristers, showing us different websites which are commonly used to find out legislation or past cases which could be referred to during a hearing. Following this, we received some work on finding out cases on the Supreme Court website and picked a Human Right which we found interesting. After that, we went out for tea with a trainee, who talked to us about her experience to becoming a barrister which was very helpful.
On Tuesday, Ms. Eleni offered us the opportunity to witness a hearing regarding taxes which we went to. We thought it would be quite boring, however we changed our minds as we listened to the arguments being put forward and during lunch, had a discussion on our opinions on the case at hand. We stayed for the whole day, with the hearing ending at 16:30.
On Wednesday, we attended another case at the Royal Courts of Justice with Richard Hermer QC being the barrister. It was like a preliminary hearing, where they were deciding how the case should be handled for the actual trial. This made me understand how diverse the cases are for which barristers work on. Mr. Hermer also seemed really passionate
For our fourth day at Matrix, Jess and I witnessed an absolutely fascinating rolled-up hearing, which was an appeal for the decision to go through with the 3rd runway at Heathrow. Beforehand, we received a skeleton argument, and read some paragraphs on the points which would be argued and allowed us to more easily follow the case which David Wolfe QC was arguing on. His argument was well-structured and very persuasive to the point where I was nodding in agreement with his argument against the third runway being built. The judges also asked quite challenging and engaging questions to both parties so they had to develop and elaborate more on their points. There were also many bundles which were being used throughout the case, just showing the amount of immense preparation and research which had gone into the case.
For the first half of our last day at Matrix, we watched the second day of the Heathrow runway appeal. It was interesting to see how the two parties responded to each other’s arguments and tried to reinforce their point of view on this topic. It was a privilege to be a witness of this case, especially with it being very topical and it being a very important case as it could potentially have a large influence on the role of the UK concerning climate change depending on the outcome. For the second half, we were given feedback on our work from Legal Service Support, which could help us improve our research and writing skills. Additionally, we were also briefly introduced to the finance team, finding out what their job is at Matrix.
Overall, it was an eye-opening experience, and would like to say thank you to the staff at Matrix who provided us with the rare chance to experience the inner workings of a barrister’s chambers. This placement has substantially increased my knowledge of what it is like to work in a chambers and has only strengthened my decision to pursue a career in law.