Silvano’s Week At Matrix

Arriving in Central London, not quite sure what to expect, I was confronted by the imposing building of Matrix chambers. Upon my entry I made my way into the reception, in awe of the contemporary interior design and high ceilings, I briefly sat in the waiting room until being met by Lindsay Clarke (HR manager). Although only filling in an absence I was made welcome, showed around the office and introduced to everyone I walked by. This warm welcome and opportunity to express any concern was all I needed to dissipate the nerves for the week ahead of me.

Jumping into the deep end, on my first day I walked to the Royal Court of Justice, with my newly acquainted work experience partner as she updated me on the trial and the details of the case. After strict security checks and sipping my water I was captivated by the great hall through which you enter the court. The historical figures and large windows whispered words of encouragement as I made my way to the renowned court 3, where our case would take place.

Initially, I was surprised by the petite room I would be spending the day in and concerned for the church like pews on which I would sit. Fortunately, the exciting case put forward by Zoë Leventhal KC, the Matrix barrister acting on behalf of the claimant, in combination with following the Judge’s line of reasoning was due to distract me from the back pain induced by the hard wooden bench. Perhaps as I was not invested directly in the case, it did not carry the intensity which I expected, but I appreciated the more conversational tone equipped by both the speaker and the judge as oppose to a heated argument, represented by Judge Judy.

The case was very interesting to learn how an argument is put forward and the concise manner with which the barristers must present due to time constraints.  The rigid structure Zoë Leventhal KC outlined at the start allowed for a neat presentation of her argument which was masterfully put together and a pleasure to experience. Although to be expected, this scholarly piece of art gave me a detailed insight of the calibre of education and knowledge retained by the barristers.

Seeing within the court many behaviours and traditions such as passing notes, wearing wigs, referring to the judge as ‘my Lord’  and referring to each other as ‘learned friend’ sparked my interest in the history of court room practice. The traditions upheld in our current epoch remind me that Law has been a subject of study since the start of civilised humanity and is absolutely essential to our society. My determination to study law continues to be fuelled by the vast impact of law on our everyday lives, despite my indecisiveness on the specific area of law which I would like to study. After today, I am interested in finding a book explaining and outlining common courtroom traditions.

On the 2nd day, my colleague and I headed directly to the Royal Court for 09:30 to greet Zoë Leventhal KC and watch the preparations being made for a 2nd day in court. It was interesting to observe the tranquillity within the hall prior to enter the courtroom, this being said one man was pacing the halls seemingly praying under his breath, reminding me of the sincerity of all cases that go through the judicial system no matter their size and public recognition. We sat down and prepared ourselves for three hours of more fun!

It was a slow start to the 2nd day but soon enough, my excitement was re-sparked upon the judge’s intervention, questioning the barristers of both sides and putting them on the spot. His polite scrutiny was admirable and the somewhat improvised responses from barristers evoked their intelligence and hard work that had gone into such a case. Around the room, there were many junior barristers taking detailed notes. It was a very exciting atmosphere as one heard the click of keyboards, combined with occasional pin-drop silence and flurried whispers.

Coming back from lunch, the intensity has doubled for both parties but continues to be complimented by the judge’s almost casual tone.  At the start of this session a barrister for the defendant was forced to withdraw previous submissions as a result of a lack of evidence, along with an apology. Once again, the following barrister laid out the skeleton of his argument to the whole court. However, he was immediately shut down by the judge as he slowly began to make his decision. Squirming under a lack of time and the judge’s scrutiny it seemed to me that the defendant would not be winning this case. While everyone was well aware of the time pressures the intensity continued to rise.

Having had the privilege to speak to Zoë Leventhal KC my outlook onto the prospect of university was significantly brightened. Like many I had been worried that I would be bored studying law for such a long time, but with her recommendation of doing a GDL (graduate diploma in law) after a degree that I am very passionate for and will definitely enjoy, could be the better option. I valued this insight very much as it lessened worries about university and has opened up a completely new line of opportunity for me.

Concluding day two, I looked forward to the next day, escaping the court room and speaking to people working at Matrix chambers with invaluable information – refined by their experience.

Waking up for day 3, I was excited to get some in-office experience and spend time talking to different teams about the type of work that they were involved in and what their day to day life looked like.

We got into the office at 09:30 and began our morning by creating pride posters for the month of June. Promptly after, we were introduced to Dan Rudd (Legal support and compliance Manager) providing us with detailed insights on what his job is and the unique educational path with which he landed his current position. Following this invaluable discussion he set us off with he task to research Rooney v Vardy, an interesting case on defamation.

After completing that task, we got ready for the daunting interview for the future lawyers mentoring scheme.  The interviewing process was exciting, testing my research skills and ability to think on the spot. I, successfully controlled my nerves as we walked into the interview room and delivered my findings. A great experience and practice for the many interviews I suspect I will be subject to throughout my lifetime.

After lunch we came back and spoke to a number of staff, explaining all the different parts that need to work together to create the perfectly functioning chamber. This began with a discussion with Christine Bacani, who explained to us the importance of receptionist as the central hub for any information you may need about the use of certain rooms, upcoming events and who to talk to when you need advice. We then enjoyed the comfort of the waiting room as we discussed our future and what it is like to work in the city of London.

Secondly, we were invited to talk to Simon Gardner, a charismatic man working on practice team X. His loving review of his job and educational path offered me an alternative perspective on the paths you can take to work at a chamber. He seems to get a great fulfilment from his job and this reassured me that there can be fun in law and the myths of law being boring are inaccurate as there are so many areas of law available to study. Lastly, Nina Russel from team M explained her work in media which was phenomenal.

Reflecting upon my week, it has definitely been an inspiring journey and eye-opening to the multitude of opportunities opened up through the study of law. An unforgettable, experience, which I would recommend to anyone and everyone. Lastly, I would just like to thank the marketing executive, Venetia Tate, for guiding us through the week and made us feel very welcome.