Head of industrial disease, Asons

I was one of those kids who didn’t really know what they wanted to do. Law met my skill-set. I was good at analysis and problem-solving and I wanted a career in a respected profession. Law was the natural choice.

I was fortunate to be given a training contract at a trade union firm, Morrish & Co. The office next to me was occupied by the president of APIL (Martin Bare) and I was in and around experienced solicitors, soaking up their advice. Dipping in and out of different files is a great way to see how different solicitors approach problems.  

This enabled me to get some amazing litigation experience. I could be working on anything from drafting a million-pound schedule of loss to undertaking a Motor Insurers’ Bureau case against a Romanian truck driver.

Before my training contract, I worked as a paralegal and undertook small claims cases for trade union members. I enjoyed the cut and thrust of PI litigation, helping to represent injured parties with a sense of pride at being part of the trade union movement.

The hardest challenge is making commercial decisions on cases. Balancing the desire to help a client, with negative feedback from counsel, a nervous ATE provider and the potential for £50,000+ costs is a massive challenge.

I had a RTA client who suffered from PTSD and agoraphobia. She had been let down by her GP and hospital, and her PTSD remained undiagnosed. When I took over the case and phoned her she couldn’t even speak about the accident, which made getting instructions difficult. After a lengthy treatment process it was great to see her back on her feet and leading a normal life.

I have a hand in Court of Appeal cases and I’ve been at trial at other big cases too. But nothing can replicate your first real court hearing in front of a district judge.

I received a very broad training contract and also provided advice for the free union legal helpline. This meant I had to take ownership and provide advice on any issues that came through. The skills I learned allow me to break down any problem into its legalities, research it and then offer advice. I advised clients on anything from care home provisions to consumer disputes. I found this really rewarding as I learned to think on my feet and it took me out of my comfort zone.

I am saddened at the drive towards portal and making PI claimants nothing more than numbers. The skill involved in litigation and analysis of evidence on both sides of the fence has diminished.

I think that the profession is a lot more inclusive, especially in PI. Be it people who get training contracts, or those who move up the ladder, like myself, into senior management positions. I don’t think it happened 10 years ago and this is something I hope continues. But I want our profession to stay a profession and to stop the erosion of quality.

Undertaking a disease claim is not the same as a whiplash claim. There are talented lawyers on both sides of the fence, dealing with complex legal issues. It would be a shame for this not to be recognised and protected.