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A Day in the Life of a Newly Qualified Personal Injury Solicitor: Navigating Cases with Grace Donnelly

My name is Grace Donnelly. After completing my training contract at Hodge Jones & Allen (HJA) in March 2023, I qualified into the Personal Injury (PI) team. I run my own cases, including road traffic accidents, public liability claims, and occupiers’ liability claims.

During my training contract, my seats included PI, housing, and crime. Before joining HJA, I was a commercial and residential property paralegal. I chose HJA because I am committed to helping those in need and “fighting for what’s right”. The firm puts the client at the heart of everything it does and listens to both the client and their families to help them work towards a brighter future. As part of the PI team, I have fought for our clients who have been injured through no fault of their own and helped ‘put things right’, by arranging early rehabilitation and obtaining interim payments to help aid recovery.

I have detailed my day in the life for any budding lawyer who is curious to learn more about this area of law or those interested in the adjustment from trainee solicitor to Newly Qualified Solicitor.

Day in the life

9:30 Arrive in the office, make tea, check/respond to my email, consider my task list and prioritise accordingly.

10:30 Today, I have been allocated a new case. As soon as I receive the documents for a new client, I review them in order to progress the matter. I have been allocated a fast-track claim (which is a claim valued under £25,000). I will, therefore, be submitting a Claims Notification Form (CNF) through the MOJ Portal (a tool for processing PI claims valued at £25,000 or under). I have a few questions for the client before I do that, so I give the client a call. Fortunately, they answered the phone and provided all the relevant information I needed to progress the claim. I then complete and submit the CNF. I ensure key dates are in my diary, send the relevant documents to the client and update them on the next stage.

11:30 Today, I am assisting Daniel Denton, a partner in the PI team, with a presentation to University Students about how Road Traffic Accident Claims run. Daniel has helped establish connections with different universities to launch legal clinics offering free advice on personal injury claims.

1:00 I have lunch with some of my colleagues in the department. We try our best to get out of the office and enjoy some fresh air.

2:00 I received a denial of liability from the Defendant’s Insurer on a case a few days ago. I sent it to the client for their comments yesterday. This morning, I received my client’s comments by email. I reviewed the comments and assessed the claim risk. I decide that the claim has merit and think it is proportionate to instruct Counsel to advise on liability and prospects. I approve this with my supervisor, draft the instructions to Counsel, and collate a corresponding bundle of exhibits. I email the instructions and bundle to Counsel’s clerk. I update the client accordingly.

3:15: I call the Defendant’s Insurer on a matter where I am waiting for them to respond to my Part 36 offer. They answer the phone, and we negotiate my client’s settlement. I already have instructions from the client, so I am in a position to accept their counter-offer. After settling the claim, I draft a letter to the Defendant’s Insurer and client confirming the settlement.

4:00 I recently received my client’s medical report following their medico-legal assessment. I reviewed the report and drafted a corresponding letter to the client, enclosing the report and explaining the expert’s findings. The expert has given a final prognosis, so subject to my client’s instructions, we can move towards settling the claim.

5:15 I go through the post I received today and allocate it to my files. I check that all my outstanding tasks are complete, update my task list for the following day, shut down my computer and go home…

Reflections – the transition from Trainee Solicitor to Newly Qualified Solicitor

My first seat as a trainee solicitor at HJA was PI. I had no prior experience, so when I qualified a year later, it took some adjustment. I had to familiarise myself with new processes and refresh my knowledge. However, with my supervisor’s and the team’s support, it was a smooth transition, and I felt very comfortable back in the department.

If you are apprehensive about the transition, communicate your anxieties to team members and supervisors who are there to support you. It also helps to keep in contact with fellow ex-trainees who are going through the same transition.

As a Newly Qualified Solicitor in the Personal Injury team, it has been a privilege to support individuals in what is often a very challenging period of their lives.

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