I am writing this article soon after the debacle of the election, and hot on the heels of the Queen’s Speech.
It is pointless to rake over the coals of the plight of the personal injury lawyer, because immediately you do, another grenade seems to be launched from the MoJ, insurance quarter, or a senior member of the judiciary with yet another ‘great idea’ that makes you engage in that all too familiar groan.
This short article was inspired by my friend, Barrister Gordon Exall, who had asked me to speak about ‘diversity’. Not the dance group … I was asked to spend 25 minutes talking about what I’d been doing for the last seven years, and the response I received from so many of the audience members after was overwhelming, and extraordinary, as many of them were beginning to think along the same lines I had, they were just a bit behind me on the time-line.
In 2010, I decided enough was enough. At that stage, I’d been in law, man and boy for 26 years near exclusively PI, and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my time continually dodging for cover, wondering if the skill set I had could take me to pastures new if PI, as I knew it, was finally going to fall apart. I had never really seen myself as doing anything other than 99% personal injury work. I lived and breathed PI, and was happy to work in that narrow sector. It was more out of concern for the way the market was going, and frankly boredom, that I decided to look to do more fields of work.
I’m restricted by word content, but I had always enjoyed the thought of doing other work – in years past, to earn a bit of extra money, I did the Duty Solicitor work , advising clients at police stations, I’d also done a couple of divorces for friends and family.
I now have what some would call a common law-family-commercial-crime-general practice. I literally do most things, none of it legal aid, but I’m happy to turn my hand to most things. My office door is similar, I think, to that of a busy GP/A&E department. I can have literally anything come in, from contested probate, to IP challenges, knock about crime, Coroners Inquests, Divorce, Regulatory, Commercial Lit, and even advice in Church of England proceedings for a vicar, judicial review, and a standards hearing for a local politician.
…and the secret to all of this private paying work? Well, apart from the fact it’s private paying, it’s all pretty much formulaic. If you can do PI in all the fields (PI, EL, RTA, product liability and the rest) you can pretty much turn your hand to anything.
It’s a shame that the article word count is so short, but if you find yourself nodding sagely along to the advice that you may need more eggs, and more baskets, try it – it’s fun, profitable, and can be an invaluable way to keep your existing clients.
Paul Nicholls is the senior partner of
Nicholls Brimble Solicitors in the Black Country and Birmingham
and MASS Vice Chair