Annabelle’s Week at Matrix

On the first day, I was understandably quite nervous, and yet my fears subsided when I met the two other students whom I would be working with. We first had an induction to Matrix with Alice, who outlined Matrix’s core values of respect, inclusivity, and innovation. We then met James, who introduced us to the role of the Practise desk. We then completed a task which helped to underline the differences between a barrister and a solicitor, which was a lovely introduction to the week. Once we had completed this, we had an induction with the Marketing team, who were incredibly informative – telling us about the diverse types of case funding available to clients, including Pro bono, CFA (No win, No fee) or Legal Aid cases. After this, we met with Dan and Nandini from the LSS (Legal Support Service), who explained how unique their job is, as it is rare to have in-house researchers in Chambers. They also taught us how to use Westlaw to research legislation and instantly search through backlogged cases. Finally, we had a tour by Richard, who explained the history behind Gray’s Inn and the rather strange inn system as a whole. I found the history of the Griffin building remarkably interesting as it used to be a police station.

On our second day, we completed market research, which involved researching other chambers to get a better understanding of the competitive nature of the industry. We were also given a task by the practice desk which involved the organisation of flights and accommodation for a Barrister, which was incredibly complicated. After lunch, which we ate in the garden at Gray’s Inn, we started to prepare for our interviews for future lawyers’ tasks and interviews. It was wonderful experience, regardless of whether I get the opportunity to be a part of the scheme, I felt like it was a lovely environment with James and Lauren, where I got to practise my interview skills in a professional environment. After this, we had a tour of the Annex with Idris, who was highly informative, explaining the nature of the listed buildings and how they cannot be renovated due to their immense historical value. Finally, we had coffee with the trainee barristers, Hayley and Catherine, who explained their pathways into law to us. They answered all our questions thoughtfully and honestly. I really benefited from this meeting as a student soon to be starting on their path to becoming a lawyer, compared to a trainee who is incredibly experienced in the field I hope to one day be a part of.

On our third day, we visited the Royal Courts of Justice to observe Nick Armstrong KC. It was incredibly interesting to see a barrister in action as I have had little exposure to oral advocacy. It was interesting to observe the different tactics used by the different barristers, examining which are the most effective. I also enjoyed spectating on the performative aspects of the proceedings and the importance of clarity, conciseness, and composure. At first, I found it difficult to follow all the legal jargon as it was an area of law I was unfamiliar with, and yet, with time, aside from a lot of strange acronyms, I got to grips with the case. The thing I most enjoyed about the day was getting to go and sit in a court at the Royal Courts of Justice, as it is a grand gothic building which I had never been into before – rather, I had just observed its grandeur as a passerby. Getting to see the traditional aspects of court proceedings and understanding court etiquette was an invaluable experience.

During my last day of work experience at Matrix, we went to see a case of phone hacking at Roll’s building. I found it particularly interesting to contrast the architecture of the Royal Courts of Justice compared to these new courts, which were only constructed in 2011. As it was a high-profile case, we watched from the overspill court, which was great, as we not only got to watch the legal proceedings but also got to watch how journalists cover legal cases. Whether they were furiously note-taking or typing, it was incredible to watch the pace at which they must work to make sure nothing was missed. Once again, the advocacy of the matrix barristers was second to none, and it was good that we were given an opportunity to see more of the different advocacy styles of the barristers.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that have arisen from this work experience. The atmosphere at Matrix is welcoming, and I got more comfortable as the week progressed. As a student in year thirteen, this Work Experience was helpful as it affirmed the choices, I had made about applying to study Law at university. It has given me valuable insight into advocacy and the way barristers and chambers work symbiotically. Coming into the week, I had seen barristers as self-employed people who worked individually and were quite solitary, and yet my week at Matrix opened my eyes to the close network of people who make the job of a barrister run smoothly. Whether that be the marketing team who operate the networking side of the operation, or the LSS who provide information to help solidify arguments, or the Practise desk who help to co-ordinate timetables and liaise with clients, or the finance team who help to make sure everything runs seamlessly in a monetary sense. All these roles play a vital part in helping to make successful chambers, which Matrix undoubtedly is.