My week at Matrix Chambers began in their beautifully modern foyer, meeting my partners Aisha and Mary, and receiving a warm welcome from Lindsay Clarke (who works in Matrix’s HR department). A few forms later and we were off to the staffroom, getting to know the different departments. Everyone I met was extremely friendly and excited for us to hear more about what they do; their passion for their work truly shone through. Each department we met had a different assignment for us to complete, and we were each given a desk to complete this work.
Alice Brighouse from the Equity and Inclusion team informed us about the importance of inclusion at Matrix and their approach towards a more sustainable future (fully vegetarian meals served in their canteen, only printing when necessary, etc). She then set us a task to come up with different ways Matrix can commemorate Black History Month (since this work experience took place in October).
Eric Ofori-Darko from the Fees and Finance team explained the different types of funding, from legal aid to conditional fee agreements (or ‘no win, no fee’). He then wanted us to research the different types of fundings for cases, which opened my eyes to how regardless of socio-economic background or circumstances, there is always support available for those who need it – many forms of support at no cost.
Talking with the Legal Support Service team reminded me about the amount of research required in this field; being able to read and evaluate various cases and regulations, some dating back many years ago. We were then sent a list of online resources we used to read and answer questions on the Wagatha Christie case; a case worked on by Matrix lawyers and quite a contemporary case. In my research, the Guardian described Vardy v Rooney as a case that put the English legal system on trial, especially in a social media age, which got me to consider how the law changes in conjunction with the times.
On Day 2 and 3, we had the opportunity to assist David Wolfe KC and Toby Fisher to the Royal Court of Justice. Seeing a full court case regarding environmental laws enhanced my understanding of courtroom dynamics, as well as highlighting how barristers need to have an in depth understanding of the law and the case to have even the slightest level of success. As we made our way back, David reminded us on the importance of knowing what kind of environment we wanted to work in (whether or not we wanted to work with people, how long we wanted our hours to be, etc) as being able to answer these questions would put us in good stead for our legal career. He and Toby offered advice on the different routes to becoming a barrister, and how they are all worthy in their own way.
Upon arriving back at Matrix, we enjoyed lunch with the rest of the barristers and got the chance to ask them questions. Following lunch, we headed back to the staffroom where we spoke with the Marketing team and the Facilities team; both departments agreed on just how much the rise of the internet and COVID-19 had impacted their work, and how quickly they had to adapt, i.e., going paperless, ensuring that they knew how to work Zoom and Teams, the development of AI.
On our final day, we were interviewed for Matrix’s Future Lawyers mentoring program, where we each created a short presentation based a question we’d chosen. Though I was initially worried about making a good impression, the interviewers Sarah and Venetia quickly made me feel at ease, allowing me to come out of my shell and just be myself.
In conclusion, my week at Matrix Chambers was certainly one to remember. Not only did it enhance my understanding of courtroom dynamics, but allowed me to ask as many questions as I could. A huge thank you to everyone at Matrix, but special thanks to Alice, Simon and Frank for making it such an enjoyable experience!