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The Future for Personal Injury Solicitors

OK. I have done After the Event Insurance and the fact that it is going to be needed post-Jackson, so let's look at solicitors shall we? Are they going to be needed, I mean after all, they are going to increase the litigant in person rates so no need for them anymore?

Well that's rubbish of course. Most people when faced with dealing with legal proceedings would run a mile and would rather do nothing. It is pretty daunting, no matter how many leaflets the small claims court issues. 

The problem here is not whether there are going to be sufficient punters for solicitors to act for but rather the other way round - are there going to be sufficient Personal Injury Lawyers around after the Jackson reforms? You may recall the hit the profession took recently with the fixed costs allowed by the RTA portal not to mention predictable costs rates which haven't been increased since being brought in - not even for the galloping rate of inflation. After the Government brings in their Jackson reforms, will there be any profit in Personal Injury anymore?

Well I think it depends. Before I give you my opinion, I should say I have quite a bit of experience at the coal face (otherwise I suspect you may stop reading and do something more interesting instead ('Why Don't You' reference there for the older readers)). A few years back, Simon Pinner and I set up a very large PI department at our firm - Kingsford Stacey Blackwell. You wouldn't believe it now but we leased a very large office in Fetter Lane, Central London - just inside the 'City' to take advantage of the City of London recoverable Court rates. We had over 80 staff at our peak. Unfortunately, predictable costs then loomed on the horizon so it was no longer viable to operate where we were.

Which is, I suppose, my point. Post Jackson, those practices doing it the old fashioned way (solicitor, secretary, expensive centrally located office etc) are going to be a thing of the past. It simply won't be viable for firms to operate in this way. We are talking factory hens here I am afraid and a lot of decent IT. We are going to see more of the out of town industrial estate operations with lots of paralegals using case management software to churn out settlements.

Jackson is going to change the face of litigation and in particular PI like no one before. The odd high street PI solicitor may survive but it won't be the mainstay of their practice anymore - they will have to subsidise their work with something else. Clients are used to telephone banking and call centres so it won't come as much of a shock to them but be under no illusion, Solicitors are going to suffer. Money can be made but PI solicitors are going to be heading the way of the bank manager - no longer top of the tree but  about two thirds of the way down. Just above Quantity Surveyors.

So it is on this cheery note that I bid you farewell. Rats and sinking ships I hear you cry? Not a bit of it. Just off for a week, er skiing. Trouble is there's no snow. My crumb of comfort is thinking of the money I am saving not having to hire skis. Always look on the bright side is what I say. They could have upped the PI small claims court limit after all.

See you in a week.

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