Wania’s week at Matrix

Arriving at Gray’s Inn I was surrounded by historic buildings and was already immersed into the legal world. As soon as I entered Matrix, I was met with a warm welcome by the two receptionists Christine and Melanie who ensured I was comfortable. I soon met Alice Brighouse who took us into a meeting room to give us a presentation on Matrix and its core values. Together we set aims for the week and rules that needed to be followed in the Chambers.

We were seated with the Fees and Finance team and met Eric and James who were very friendly and welcoming. Eric gave us an in detail induction and showed us Lex, a software used by barristers to record their hours. He explained why hourly rates vary depending on the barrister’s experience or type of funding they are receiving for a specific case. It was particularly interesting to learn how the Chambers makes its income through a certain contribution from the barristers. I gained so much from the induction as Eric answered any questions I had and showed me examples of his work.

Soon after, we were introduced to the Legal Support Service who gave us an insight into what they do and how they are unique as other chambers do not have them. Dan explained what type of resources are used by the team such as LexisNexis and the type of research they do daily which highlighted the importance of their work. In addition, Zoe and Nandini answered any questions we had regarding different pathways to joining a chamber and gave us a good insight into their own experiences. After completing numerous tasks, we were introduced to James who is on the Practice Team and works closely with barristers. I developed a deeper understanding of his role and found it interesting how the Practice Teams help barristers maintain their wellbeing by consistently checking on them. After meeting everyone on the team it was evident how close everyone at Matrix is and how everyone’s work makes the Chambers the success it is.

In the afternoon I had the opportunity to meet the two trainees, Catherine and Hayley, for coffee. They were incredibly kind and open to answering any questions I had regarding their journey into law, application process for the Chambers and their pupillage. I was able to develop my understanding of the steps needed to become a barrister and how they prepare you for the role. It was also insightful to learn more about choosing the right area of law and making an informed decision through engaging in as many experiences as possible.

I arrived at Matrix promptly for my second day as we were going to court to observe the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry. Before being taken to the court we met Zuwaina and Lauren who were so welcoming and ensured we were comfortable throughout our placement. We were welcomed at Aldwych House and taken to a room full of barristers and solicitors involved in the case. Observing a barrister question a witness by referring to certain documents, such as witness statements, to evidence their arguments was fascinating. It was incredible to meet Samantha Knights KC who gave us an overview of the different teams involved and barristers representing them despite being very busy with the case. In the second half of the case, I was able to watch cross examinations by other barristers on different topics and pieces of evidence. Sir Wyn Williams concluded the day by thanking the witness which highlighted the importance of court etiquette.

On my third day, I arrived at Matrix and read through a skeleton argument for the Judicial review we were going to attend. We arrived at the royal courts and were introduced to Paul Skinner who gave a us a detailed explanation about the case and introduced us to the solicitors involved. We sat with the team and watched each barrister present their claim. It was interesting to observe how the judge questioned each barrister and prompted them for more evidence. The team constantly communicated with each other ensuring all relevant points were being made which made the defence’s argument clear. On the way back to the chambers we were able to talk to Paul about his skeletal argument and how to write well-structured strong arguments. Talking to a barrister about their work gave me a whole new insight into what the role entails.

On my penultimate day at Matrix, we were introduced to Venetia on the marketing team. She explained how social media and consistent posts can help promote barristers and their work. It was interesting to see the impact the team had and how their work helped barristers and the team at matrix become recognised. Additionally, we had a talk from Frank on the facilities team who explained how Matrix kept up with technological changes so that everyone could do their work efficiently. He also talked about how AI could potentially be used in the Chambers and the impact this would have. It was interesting to see how innovative Matrix is and the effort it puts into staying ahead of the curve. Finally we had our interviews, the interview process gave me the opportunity to experience and learn how to prepare and answer questions under a time limit.

Overall, my time at Matrix Chambers has been incredible and I cannot thank them enough. The team and barristers were so approachable and helpful, and open to sharing their knowledge with us. This experience has given me a whole new outlook on Chambers and how numerous people are behind the work that is done. I have been able to learn how Matrix Chambers is run, how barristers present themselves in court and how the work they do comes together to make a difference. This placement was truly one of the best and most impactful experiences I have had and has motivated me to work hard and achieve my goals I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone who wants to truly experience life in a successful Chambers and is considering a career as a barrister.