From the second I stepped through the door on Monday, I felt comfortable at Matrix (and not just because it provided some desperately needed warmth after a chilly early-morning!). I was made to feel welcome and relaxed, a stark contrast to the high-pressure atmosphere I expected. I was introduced to Will, my work experience partner for the week, and we were given a quick induction before being given a tour of the office from Rachel, our co-ordinator for the week.
The friendly environment meant I had no problem asking questions, as people were so willing to help that I didn’t feel as if I was bothering them or wasting their time. This allowed me to take much more enjoyment from the tasks we were set, as I wasn’t sat around for long periods of time wondering what to do. On the Monday we started with a legal research task, in which we had to come up with arguments for both sides of a situation where someone’s right to privacy conflicted with the press’s freedom of expression. Following on from this, we wrote some profiles on speakers at an upcoming General Counsel event which a Matrix representative would be attending. This was particularly helpful for us, as it allowed us to view many different people’s path into law, providing us with useful information as to how we could potentially get there one day. Finally, we produced an itinerary for a barrister who was traveling across many different countries in quick succession for a series of hearings and conferences, finding flights and hotels.
The next day, we were given the opportunity to shadow a barrister at the Central London Employment Tribunal where he was instructed on behalf of the claimant in regards to a new piece of law regarding employment rights. Before we left the chambers, we were given the skeleton arguments for both sides to read in order to gain an understanding of the case. It was all heard within a day which allowed us to follow the whole case from start to finish, making it much more interesting than being thrown in halfway through. After this, we had a chat with the barrister about the ways we could become barristers or go into the law, and about his experiences working as a barrister.
On Wednesday, we spent some time with the fees and finance team, who are responsible for logging and billing the barrister’s hours and spending the chambers’ money. They explained the nature of their job and how the billing systems they use here work. In the afternoon, we went to the Old Bailey to observe a criminal case.
On our fourth day, we observed part of Samira Ahmed’s unfair pay claim against the BBC at the Central London Employment Tribunal, in which Claire Darwin of Matrix was instructed on behalf of Mrs. Ahmed. This was tremendously interesting as the case is quite notable and was attracting plenty of press attention, meaning the room was packed full of journalists. In the afternoon, we went back to the Old Bailey to continue watching the cases we had watched yesterday. It was shocking to realise how we’d barely missed anything despite missing the entire morning session, which really highlighted how long and detailed cases can be, reminding us how difficult it is to be a barrister.
On Friday, we had the opportunity to take part in a mock interview where two of the practice staff interviewed us for a mock position and evaluated us on an interview task. This allowed us to get valuable interview experience and feedback which will become very useful when we start interviewing for jobs and other positions in the future. Additionally, in the afternoon, we had coffee with the chambers’ current pupil, who answered our questions about the bar and pupillage, allowing us to gain important insight into the process of becoming a barrister and what we can do to better our chances.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable week which gave an invaluable insight into working at a chambers and as a barrister, and has very much encouraged me to pursue a career in the law.