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Leah’s Week at Matrix

Marking the entrance to Gray’s Inn, home of Matrix Chambers, was the Lady Hale Gate (named after the former President of the Supreme Court). There was no doubt about it: Matrix Chambers was located in the heart of London’s legal world.

Stepping through the sliding glass doors of Matrix Chambers, I instantly noticed the modern architecture of the building, which skewered any past perceptions I once held about barrister chambers being old-fashioned. Looking back, I realise it also gave me my first glimpse of Matrix’s modern and progressive values.

After meeting receptionists Christiane and Melanie, who warmly welcomed us, Lindsay kindly gave us a brief tour of the building, and we met the Fees and Finance Team.

Subsequently, Eric and James taught us about different types of legal funding and fee payments, from legal aid to CFA (conditional fee agreements). As surprising as we found the vast amount of investment in private funding to be, it was heartening to hear about the many barristers at Matrix taking on pro bono cases and cases funded by legal aid.

Shortly after this, we completed a task on legal funding before Idris, the IT & Facilities Coordinator, kindly gave us a complete tour of the offices of Matrix Chambers. Following lunch, we met Catherine, a trainee barrister (or a pupil barrister, as some chambers call it). Her experience and advice were invaluable, and her perspective on the necessity of an international justice system was truly enlightening. Consequently, we met James and learnt more about his job as an assistant practice manager at Matrix.

On the second day, we had the immense privilege to attend the Supreme Court, where Matrix barrister Gavin Millar KC was participating in the landmark and highly publicised Abbasi case. To be able to watch such skilled barristers and the finest judges in our country was a rare honour. I was particularly intrigued by the interactions between the barristers and the Supreme Court Judges, which provided unparalleled insights into the deeper implications and legal rigour of the case.

In a case such as Abbasi, where the law is tasked with balancing freedom of speech with the potential harm to the NHS staff, it seemed inevitable difficult decisions would have to be made. Nevertheless, even when tasked with these challenging decisions, it was clear that the law is benevolent at heart.

On the third day, we were lucky enough to view another case in the new wing of the Royal Courts of Justice, where we heard Matrix barrister James Laddie KC speak. I was particularly intrigued by this case, as it was the first time I had listened to a case concerning employment law. Listening to the speeches of the barristers’, I was struck by their clarity of expression and in-depth knowledge of the law. It is an arduous process to become a barrister, and undoubtedly, the rewards of the journey are clearest in court.

On the last day, we headed back to the Royal Courts of Justice to see Matrix barristers Clare Montgomery KC and Roz Comyn in court. This was an exceedingly publicised case concerning undue influence on jurors and the right to free expression. Even so, it was surprising to see protestors outside the Royal Court of Justice. Regardless, we witnessed Clare speak, and with such in-depth knowledge of the law, it was truly enlightening to hear.

When I first stepped through the doors of Matrix Chambers, I perceived work experience as useful and interesting but certainly not engaging. However, after completing work experience at Matrix Chambers, I can confidently say my perception has changed: My time at Matrix was engaging, thought-provoking, and, without a doubt, one of the best work experiences I have ever had the privilege to participate in.

I am deeply grateful to the staff who made this possible, and thanks to them, I had the opportunity to explore the compelling world of barrister’s chambers, reaffirming my decision to pursue a career in law.