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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has launched a new campaign Rebuilding Shattered Lives video - see this powerful animated film which aims at highlighting the difference experienced solicitors can make in the aftermath of serious injury. It is worth a watch.
At this time of year many solicitors will also be engaged in the annual process of submitting entries in to the two big legal directories and perhaps dusting down websites and marketing literature that might need updating.
It is very easy as a solicitor having achieved a good outcome for the person you are helping to then move seamlessly on to the next case. Of course you are mindful of how important the outcome is to the person you have helped, and of course you are absolutely aware of the impact the litigation will have had on top of the life changing injury over what will often have been long time taken to complete the case. That will have been a time when all the person you are helping will have known is change and uncertainty. Change in respect of the impact the injury will have had on their life and the lives of their family; and uncertainty about whether the case will be successful and what the future might hold.
From the solicitor’s perspective, on the surface at least, the case settles, a job well done is completed. The person you have helped seems pleased it is over and that they can put the litigation behind them and move on with what will usually be a different life to the one they might have imagined before they were injured.
Of course the relationship between solicitors and the people they are helping in a serious injuries case is usually a long lasting one. It is usually one that is pretty intense, heavily trust based and necessarily strong bonds are made. The solicitor will doubtless hope to ensure the injured person can get on with their life without the intrusion of things that remind them of the litigation.
Mindful of the APIL campaign and video and having ploughed on with the directories submissions work (and some website work – watch this space) I was bowled over to hear back from several people my team and I helped a few years back and whom I contacted this week ‘out of the blue’. It was the warmth of their words, the familiarity and the laughter we shared when we caught up. That was so powerful and so unexpected to someone who is used to anticipating so much about pretty much every single part of their day. I was genuinely stopped in my tracks at how kind and touching their words were.
That shouldn’t be taken to mean that our days are monotonous and constantly intense– far from it. It is just that hearing from people we did right by; and with them having moved on with their lives so positively and looking forward to the future with a degree of certainty and confidence shaped by their experience after successful litigation was just so powerfully uplifting.
Perhaps it just isn’t possible for the solicitor or the person they are helping to really appreciate or see that positive and longer term, real, meaningful, stability at the end of the litigation chapter. Perhaps it is just too soon and what is often the abrupt end of the litigation process is just too overwhelming. Sudden relief; an end to uncertainty, and perhaps a glimpse at possibilities for a better future all converge as the old chapter closes and the new one opens all at once. It is a big thing. The solicitor exiting stage left is not immune or devoid of emotion, but can quickly and professionally become embroiled in the next challenge.
Yet when connecting again a few years down the track, when all would hope that things should be more stable, it is just such a powerful and uplifting thing to hear and to see. Perhaps it cannot always be so, but striving for that outcome is surely what drives those of us those of us who have any involvement in helping people who have suffered life changing injuries.
I won’t embarrass the lady who wrote what follows by naming her. I am sure she won’t mind me setting out here what she wrote to me and knows it stopped me in my tracks this week:
That dark hole became a pin prick of light that slowly got brighter all thanks to his determination and hard work and also the kindness, professionalism and guidance you showed to us. I don't think you realise how much you grounded us through not only the legal side but also our personal lives. Because of you Jon his life is secure and for that we are all eternally grateful.
How kind, how thoughtful – and how hopeful.