Future Legal Minds Winner Shares Experience with Simpson Millar LLP (formerly Colemans)
As part of the prize of winning National Accident Helpline's Future Legal Minds undergraduate competition, Amy Loughery, an undergraduate student at the University of York received £5,000 towards her legal studies as well as a two week placement at Simpson Millar LLP (formerly Colemans). Amy shares her experiences in this blog.
The most interesting experience during my time at Simpson Millar LLP (formerly Colemans) definitely has to be journeying down to Essex to meet a client and a witness whilst I was in the serious personal injury department. It was very interesting to see a client giving direct instructions to a solicitor, and to see how a professional relationship can develop over a number of years. Face to face client contact can be a rarity during legal work experience placements, but getting to see the positive impact that hard working solicitors have where quality of life is concerned has cemented my desire to work in serious personal injury. Some injuries have catastrophic and far-reaching consequences, and this experience helped me to fully appreciate that.
Learning about the law
The most important thing I have learned about working in law is that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but it is worth it. I was surprised to hear that it is not only solicitors, but everyone from claims handlers to litigators, that take work home and find themselves coming in on a weekend. However, the sense of satisfaction that legal professionals can find in, for example, a thank you card from a happy client means all that hard work pays off! Over all my varied placement was a very valuable experience and it has definitely given me a head-start in understanding procedure within personal injury practice.
Varied work experience
During my time at Simpson Millar LLP (formerly Colemans) I have had the opportunity to experience a range of departments within Personal Injury at various levels, from shadowing claims handlers to senior solicitors. On the very first day of my placement I was working in the new leads and new business department of the Legal Processing Centre. There I was able to make initial contact with potential clients with General Personal Injury Cases, as directed from National Accident Helpline and Injury Lawyers 4 U. From there I progressed to the Road Traffic Accident
team, where I shadowed both Claims Negotiators, where I got to grips with the process of negotiation and settlement of fast-paced portal claims, before shadowing Litigators. When shadowing litigators, whom mainly deal with cases in which liability has been denied, I witnessed the beginnings of the litigation process and I even got the chance to try drafting. I then moved on to the General Personal Injury team, where I again shadowed Negotiators and Litigators. Here I experienced the slightly more slow paced, but more varied cases as they move through the process. The second week of my placement involved me shadowing solicitors in Serious Personal Injury, General Personal Injury, RTA and Travel. In SPI I had the opportunity to visit a client and a witness at their home, and from this I learned a lot about the role of the solicitor in such cases, and how this can differ greatly from other areas of legal practice. Whilst In GPI I got to observe the handover of cases from one member of staff to another. Here I got to witness and participate in a discussion of the pressing issues within those cases and how they should be addressed. Whilst shadowing the RTA and Travel teams I got to read through current cases and discuss them with staff of different roles, and gain different perspectives on those cases.
Tips for law students
The best tip I can give law students like myself, is to put yourself ‘out there’. It is important to make yourself known not only by the firms that you are most interested, but more generally in the legal field if you can. Enter competitions! Whether they are mooting competitions, essay competitions or something completely unrelated to the legal profession: all experience is good experience and you should take every opportunity you can get to further yourself.The Future Legal Mind competition was launched in 2014 by National Accident Helpline and supported by Lawyer 2B and Simpson Millar LLP (formerly Colemans). Applications are set to open later this year for the 2016 competition. If you are interested in taking part you can find more information and register your interest here