Being a newly qualified solicitor
Like many other solicitors, I studied and worked extremely hard to achieve my goal of becoming qualified. It was a challenge to study law in a language that is not my native tongue, so for me, qualifying didn’t only mean achieving my goal but also overcoming another challenge and that was a great personal accomplishment.
The exposure to work as a trainee differs depending on where you have trained. Some trainees have the opportunity to run their own files but some, unfortunately, do not. As a trainee, I was extremely fortunate to be independent and have my own caseload. This consisted of portal, fast-track and sometimes multi-tracks claims, so for me, qualifying in July 2016 wasn’t a difficult transition, it was more a continuance of what I had been doing during my training contract.
I do now undoubtedly feel more responsible for my work since I have been admitted to the roll. Since qualifying, I am more accountable for the law I am practicing.
It is a challenge being a newly qualified solicitor especially when you start a new job in a new firm. The pressure is on to make a good impression when perhaps you do not yet have all the knowledge other people have in the firm and you no longer have the security blanket that used to protect you as a trainee. One important thing I have learnt is that it is okay not to know all the responses and to be uncertain at times but most importantly I have learnt that I shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask questions. It is important to have support and guidance, this is how I will continue developing my skills. Luckily I have the necessary supervision and guidance to ensure I thrive in my new environment.
Training does not end when your training contract ends as the Solicitors Regulatory Authority requires solicitors to update their skills and knowledge constantly. Such training is absolutely necessary to remain competent in our respective area of practice.
PI law landscape
It is no secret the PI market has undergone major changes with legislative and regulatory reforms that promise to boost efficiency and reduce litigation costs. All these changes have had a significant impact on personal injury law and solicitors practices and have applied pressure and commercial challenges. The reforms intended to limit escalating legal costs however, many would agree the reforms were weighted in favour of defendants.
The Ministry of Justice has now announced that the small claims limit soon be raised from £1,000 to £5,000 to reduce awards being made for minor soft tissue injuries, arising from road traffic accident. A table of fixed compensation for whiplash claims will be implemented where the amount of compensation will depend on the duration of injuries. This change will be seen as a success for Defendants. However, it will harm access to justice for who Claimants will no longer have access to legal representation where their claim is worth less than £5,000 which means the number of litigants in person will increase, the Courts will be even more manic.
Although these proposals claim to reduce the cost of whiplash claims, eliminate fraud and cut car premiums by £40 per year, they are going to have significant consequences for genuine claimants by reducing access to justice.
Despite all the constant changes and uncertainty in the industry, the PI market has proven itself to be adaptable and innovative and always found a way to digest these changes, tackle challenges and move forward. Our clients come to us at a very difficult time in their lives, it is therefore important that we continue securing justice for them and make sure we obtain the correct level of compensation whilst continue to prove cost-effective services.
It is essential to keep up-to-date with the law to best advise clients, adapt to ensure the quality of our work remains the same and our clients remain a priority. It is also important to run claims in economical, strategic and efficient ways and adapt in order to remain profitable.
Working as a PI solicitor
What I love the most about my job is that no day is ever the same and every task differs. From drafting pleadings and witness statements to reviewing medical evidence, liaising with clients, attending conferences and Court; every single day is different. The past few years have been challenging following the introduction of the Jackson reforms. There have been a number of changes to how claims operate but despite all these changes, I am still passionate about fighting back against negligence and helping my clients gain justice.
I am very proud of what I have achieved so far and I am looking forward to progressing my career and enhancing my skills.