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“I had looked forward to my placement with great anticipation and the experience exceeded my expectations” – Jessica recounts her week at Matrix

I’ve known for a while now that I would like to study law, and having reached Year 11 decided that it was time to gain some actual experience. As Human Rights has always been an area of interest, I endeavored to find a Chambers that offered work experience in that field. Then I discovered Matrix and I was instantly attracted by the Chamber’s fresh approach to its structure, core values and ethics, and their interest in developing aspiring Barristers.

On Monday morning, I was warmly welcomed by the staff, and introduced to the Marketing Team that would be looking after me during my placement. After a short induction, I was given a tour of the offices and was introduced to the other teams. I was surprised by how many people it takes to support the Barristers, and how many other roles there were in a Chambers such as Matrix. I was then taken to the Library with Laura (the other aspiring barrister who would be accompanying me this week) and we were tasked with creating a selection of ‘goody bags’ to be given out at a media event being run by Matrix. We soon fell into a steady rhythm and somehow managed to pack all 180 bags before lunch. Whilst completing this task, it struck me how I’d never considered the reach and influence of a Chambers, and I was unaware that they would run external, large scale events.

After a quick lunch, Laura and I came back to the Chambers and were introduced to LSS who support the Barristers with their research and manage any direct access calls. I found it fascinating that you do not necessarily need to use a Solicitor in all cases and was impressed by how meticulously the research had to be carried out. We were both given four research assignments to be completed during the week that helped me consider some aspects of law in a deeper way. The feedback given at the end of the week was very insightful and I will be able to apply this advice in the future. We then met with Roisin, a trainee Barrister undertaking her pupillage at Matrix, and went for a coffee. She gave us some really great advice about pursuing a career in law and also gave me a better understanding of not only a pupillage, but what it’s like to study law at university.

For the rest of the week, Laura and I were fortunate enough to spend our time in court. On Tuesday we watched a Tax and VAT appeal case in the ROLLS Building. I found this incredibly interesting and could follow very easily, especially with my limited technical knowledge. On Wednesday, Laura and I went to the Royal Court of Justice to see a Human Rights preliminary hearing, discussing which countries law would be used in an upcoming case. Whilst I found this hearing harder to follow as a lot more technical jargon was used, it was still highly intriguing and I was amazed at how knowledgeable all the Barristers were, not just about their cases but Human Rights law generally. On both of these days we walked to the courts with one of the Office and Outdoor Assistants, who were extremely kind and gave us some great information about how the Barrister’s bundles are put together and their importance. On Thursday and Friday, we witnessed an Environmental case at the Court of Appeal. We walked to the courts with the Barrister, Mr Wolfe QC, who gave us some insightful information about the case and his job as a Barrister. I found this appeal extremely engaging and could follow along quite well with the arguments being made. All the Barristers I observed spoke eloquently and thoughtfully during their speeches, and it really impressed upon me the power of words.

I had looked forward to my placement with great anticipation and the experience exceeded my expectations. The staff and environment were really welcoming and I have enjoyed myself immensely. This week has not just greatly improved my confidence and independence, it has given me some useful information and new, practical experiences. I felt well-supported by the team throughout and would like to express my gratitude at being offered this placement. Even though Matrix have modernised their approach, it is clear that the values of hard-work, professionalism and dedication have remained.