Bott: “dumbed down” ABSs can be quick and wrong, lawyers can be quick and right

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By Legal Futures

15 April 2011

Bott: how much free thought, intellect and empathy will be used by process-driven lawyers?

New “dumbed-down” entrants to the personal injury market will be “quick and wrong”, whereas lawyers can be “quick and right”, the new president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has claimed.

Addressing this week’s APIL annual conference, David Bott said claimants might prefer to deal with a “new breed of dumbed-down, legal ‘light’ adviser” – at least at first – once alternative business structures (ABSs) come into being.

“I believe that the new entrants will be very efficient and they will be process driven. And if process and efficiency are paramount, my concern is, what priority is given to the needs of injured people? Will all of their individual needs be met? If so, it would have to be an amazingly intricate process to reflect all of the needs of all of the claimants.

“Also how much free thought, intellect and empathy will be used by this process-driven lawyer? My view is that the new breed is likely to be dumbed down, so I am concerned whether a proper service will be delivered to injured people.”

Mr Bott, who runs Cheshire firm Bott & Co, predicted that the appeal of these entrants will wane once the claimant has a problem, or until their particular, individual injury “does not fit into the rigidly defined, immovable process being used by the ABS”. He said these new firms could be like “hulking steam trains – fantastic at moving ahead but useless at moving in any other direction and especially useless at dealing with minutiae of an individual claim, or the particular idiosyncrasies of an individual claimant”.

He said the ability to deal with claimants as individuals is “the key to our success”. Mr Bott said: “If we can offer a similar service but with intellect, agility and a genuine care for the client we can still do what we are good at, that is put the injured person first and offer a bespoke client-led service.”

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