On my first day, I was anxious as I was unsure of what to expect. I originally struggled to find the building; however, I was helped out by a lovely member of reception, who guided me in the right direction and even came outside to find me. I took a seat on the comfy sofas in reception, where me and my fellow work experience students introduced ourselves to each other and waited to be greeted by Alice. She took us into a meeting room where we she gave us an introduction to matrix, outlining what to expect, the rules, and the people. After this, she gave us a tour around the office, introducing us to the different teams and explaining a little about what they do.
Shortly after this, we went and spoke to the fees team. Here we learnt about how Barristers charge their fees, along with the difference between private fees and legal aid fees. The difference between fees charged by baby barristers and KCs was quite shocking, really emphasising how much more valued you become as you progress and become more senior. Barristers also have to pay a sort of ‘rent’ to the chambers to help pay for the costs of running the chambers.
Next, we spoke to the Legal Support Team, and they explained how they aid barristers in their work. The fact Matrix has free help available to their barristers highlights the progressive nature of the chambers.
We spent both of these days in the Royal Courts of Justice watching a high court case regarding whether a search warrant was lawfully obtained due to the defendant not disclosing all necessary information, therefore potentially biasing the judge, leading them to come to a conclusion which they may not have come to otherwise. Before we left to go to court, we were given a folder containing both of the skeleton arguments. In these, were the grounds on which each side planned to argue. Along with this, Jo (the barrister who we were going to court with) explained the basics of the case and what to expect. This insight helped make the case easier to follow, causing me to feel less confusion as I felt I had a sense of what was happening. This was essential for providing an enjoyable time in court, as it’s very boring to listen to something when you have no idea what’s going on. Each morning, we were escorted to the courts, which where around a 15-minute walk away, by an outdoor and office assistant who took all the important documents with him. Something that stood out to me during my time in court was the imperfections of the barristers. I mean this in the sense that there was a bit of ‘um’ing and ar’ing’ or losing track of the page. This was important to me, as it humanised the barristers and exemplified that you don’t have to be perfect to be a barrister, the most crucial thing is how you articulate your argument, and if you can do so in a concise manner. Adding on to this, it was interesting to see how they structured their arguments and the legal jargon they used. I also learnt how proceedings are structured in the high court and the way they differed from proceedings in the magistrate’s court, which I was aware of from previous work experiences.
We spent half of our day in court. The case was due to be concluded this morning, however the plaintiff took 4 hours longer than agreed to present their argument, so the case ran over meaning the defendants were still speaking this morning. Resultantly, we didn’t get to see the conclusion of the case as it proceeded on into the afternoon. We returned back to the chambers at lunch time where we were set the task of writing this blog. Along with this, we prepared for and sat our future lawyers interview. By doing this not only do we get the opportunity to receive mentoring and advice if our interview is successful, but it also gives us interview experience, preparing us for the types of questions we will see later on in our career journeys. To finish the day, we had an introduction from the media team, where we became aware of their crucial role. The media team perhaps often goes overlooked, but they play an important part in gaining and maintaining customers. Overall, I think this has been a really eye opening experience for me. It has given me a good insight into the life of a barrister, whilst also showing me everything that goes on behind the scenes in order to keep the chambers running.