A new set of challenges

DarrenGowerCharlotte Parkinson, of Modern Law Magazine spoke to Darren Gower (pictured), Marketing Director at Eclipse Legal Systems, to find out how the right type of support is fundamental to the success of any firm looking to diversify their service offering in a more competitive market.

Lord Justice Jackson’s reforms to civil litigation in 2012 may not have impacted the medical negligence sector as deeply as they affected the personal injury market but it has still felt the brunt of change, particularly for low value cases. Right across the claims sector, in areas such as catastrophic injury, clinical and medical negligence and commercial litigation, firms are beginning to become more reliant on high value, low volume claims – but high value cases are not without their own challenges.

A suitable alternative?
Many clinical negligence firms were, until recently, working through the backlog of cases which had been issued prior to the new rules coming into force but these have now largely subsided in the sector, leaving many firms questioning where their next move in the market should be. As the changes to civil litigation funding and costs affected lower value claims (particularly low value RTA claims in the case of personal injury), various potential revenue streams are being considered to replenish dwindling cash flow. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) claims are an area which some firms are beginning to look to as a potential replacement for RTA claims, although these types of case are not without their own potential indemnity risks.

For those firms who are looking to expand into other areas of litigation, new departments within firms are cropping up to take on high value, low volume claims but for some, this transition is not an easy one. High value claims often require a huge outlay of time for more experienced Partners and could also lead to a potential increase in Work In Progress (WIP) lock-up for the firm. Another factor to bear in mind when considering branching out into high value claims should be the removal of legal aid for clinical negligence claims, which has increased competition within the sector as more and more personal injury firms begin to take on clinical negligence and other high value claims.

Prepared for change…
Bearing in mind the newly reformed sector and the ever-changing costs landscape, firms should ensure emphasis is placed on concluding cases quickly, in order to avoid adverse costs; however, this should not be to the detriment of fully understanding undeniably more complex cases. As firms begin to explore potential new work streams, they must also consider how they will support a potential hike in work load across the firm. By implementing new or extending existing systems, which could assist with streamlining the support process, the conundrum many firms are facing could become a lot clearer.

Darren Gower of Eclipse Legal Systems comments:

“In refocusing on more complex work areas, the reliance on effective matter management software solutions becomes even greater. Such software systems enable the practice to budget each matter effectively, to ensure compliance, and to reduce administrative overhead as much as possible. In a nutshell, use of the right matter management software lets the lawyers get on with doing the lawyering – and provides a solid framework for process efficiencies.”