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Please, sit down and read this....

So How Do You Pick a Lawyer?

Choosing a Lawyer like choosing any specialist requires a degree of objective assesment. No lawyer is going to tell you they are a complete amateur or that they have zilch in terms of experience. They all want your business. So how do you know whose who? I have set out this honest mans guide here, it is not intended to promote my services, it is intended to help you... Lesson 1. So first of all, lets play a simple game: Can you run? I dont care if you can run 3 marathons one after the other or just about manage the distance between 2 lamposts - can you run? If you can run, is it fair to call you a runner? Most of us can run if we have to. I prefer not to, however, if I was being chased by a crocodile, I would abandon my fondness for walking and pick up the pace substantially. I'm not a runner though. I will never be a "runner" in that sense. Being able to run and being a runner are therefore different things. So that is our first point of assessment. There are many lawyers, many of them if they wanted to could "run" a clinical negligence claim but that is not really thier thing. We need to filter this group out first. So I'm going to call these guys "Generalists" . Generalists often have offices where they do a bit of conveyancing, a bit of immigration law, a bit of family law, some wills and probate and lord knows what else. These guys are good lawyers, they will act professionally and they will do a standard job, no matter what they do. Generalists are competent. But just "competent" is not the thing your looking for is it? If a lawyer has several practice areas, if they seem to be a "jack of all trades" keep looking.

Lesson 2. So you have narrowed your list to say 5-10 law firms. They all claim to be "specialist" medical negligence lawyers and they dont do Family Law or Conveyancing or blah blah blah. Now what? Well let me ask you another question. Can you drive...? The thing is, most of us can drive a car, however, we cannot drive a bus or a HGV. Its not just that we dont have the licence permissions for it. We don't usually know how to physically do it? A lot of trucks have a split gearbox with over 20 gears. Medical Negligence is a bit like that, it is not personal injury, it is way more complex and it often involves arguments about highly complex areas of medicine or surgery. It is dangerous ground for solicitors who havent been here before. Not only that but the Defendants in these cases are Doctors, Surgeons, Dentists, Hospitals and thier owners, guess what they can afford specialist lawyers, they employ them full time. If you dont believe me go to an inquest of someone who had died as a result of negligence in Hospital, you will not be able to move for all the lawyers that the Hospitals can bring out of thier pockets. You can usually find the family with nobody to help them (The Tory Government cut Legal Aid for Inquests years ago). So how do you find your expert driver? The Law Society have a panel of expert Solicitors who have long standing expert status. You have to demonstrate that you have long standing experience with these claims before you can become "accredited". These guys and girls are not always the best and brightest but they "have the licence" and they have done this before, that moves you a long way foward. Check the Law Society website and see if any of those people on your list are also on. thier list. I am willing to bet, you will have a shorter list at the end of that game...

Here Endeth the Lessons Once you have refined your list and you have your names. Ensure in a direct quesiton, that they answer this one "Who will be running my case on a day to day basis"? If the answer to the question is "my assistant x will be your usual point of contact" then walk away..... Ultimately, all solicitors have more cases than they would like ot have, that essentially menas that some malingering slimeball of a manager, whose job it is to act as a buffer between the lawyers and the owners has pushed higher case numbers and assistants as a way of increasing productivity. To these guys - like it or not - you are a number, just a number and they really do not care if your claims settles for a pound or 10 million punds just as long as it settles. Turnover to these people is everything. Small firms with low case numbers will always have the soliictor as a point of contact the assistant is exactly that, large firms with hundreds of staff ironically are usually the ones the lowest solicitor to client ratio. That doesnt mean large firms are bad, some of the best lawyers I have ever met are in firms with huge car parks but they are the exception that proves the rule. Ikea just doesnt make hand carved oak cabinets and bespoke craftsmen just will not make you a billy bookcase.

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