We care passionately about every customer we help
Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
Not so many years ago a client approached us concerned that their then solicitor was advising them to settle their claim for a lump sum they thought was not enough. The long story cut short is we settled the claim for 44 times the amount the previous solicitor was advising the client should settle for.
There are many troubling issues in that true story.
Solicitors who help people who have suffered life changing injuries have to be specialised, experienced, and expert. A client needing to make a compensation claim after life changing injury should never accept anything short of that. They have already endured so much in sustaining the injury that to be let down by a solicitor not competent to help them when they are so vulnerable is unforgivable.
Specialising, and gaining experience and expertise does not happen overnight. It is hard won and demonstrable. Of course, the road to expertise is a long one and must begin somewhere; but it must begin with the right training, coaching, mentoring and indeed the right oversight from sufficiently specialised, experienced, and expert colleagues who remain responsible for the case until such time as the requisite expertise and experience is gained. The responsibility of specialism, of experience and expertise is real and meaningful.
Clients ought to be able to trust those advising them to cherish and take those responsibilities seriously. After all solicitors have professional duties and regulations to be mindful of. Unfortunately, just as there are good doctors and bad doctors, the same is true for solicitors and indeed all walks of life – and irrespective of regulation.
Whilst all doctors are medically trained, no one would expect a GP to ‘have a go’ at neurosurgery; or a neurosurgeon to have a go at gastroenterology. The specialist training each received in their own area of work and the experience and expertise each gains in that specialist area is key.
The same is true with solicitors. We all studied law; got the qualifications and then trained so as to cover lots of different areas, but increasingly just as medics do, we also tend towards specialisation; and then gain experience and expertise in distinct areas of the law. Gone are the days when the high street solicitor would be having a go at most of the legal problems that landed on their desk.
Yet the personal injury solicitor who takes on a life changing injury claim without being sufficiently specialised, experienced, and expert in that area of work still exists. Perhaps not with malevolence in mind, and perhaps happy (and needing) to perpetuate a delusion that legal economics forces, but still taking a case that professionally and personally (morally) they shouldn’t. Given reform in the personal injury sector it is not too difficult to see how many generalist personal injury solicitors without sufficient specialist experience and expertise might now be tempted and happy to take on work they are perhaps not competent to.
To guard against ending up in the situation the client was in with their original solicitor in the true story outlined above, there are things all prospective clients can do.
One final note here: it used to be said that to be a genuinely specialised, experienced expert in this or any other area of work you needed to have grey hair. It is my firm view that if you are good enough you are old enough – but no one can (or should) fake being genuinely specialised, experienced, and expert.
To read more about Brethertons Spinal Cord Injuries Team - https://www.brethertons.co.uk/site/individuals/spinal-injury-solicitors/spinal-injury-solicitors-page/
To follow us on Twitter - @neurolawyer