The legal sector is changing, fast, and Burcher Jennings is evolving to offer solutions to meet the demands of reforms for clients. Over the past year, the firm has been heavily investing in its strategic development including in respect of both funding and pricing, where the aim has been to reinforce its offering to assist clients with key changes such as the new budgeting requirements demanded by the Jackson Reforms. Uptake of work in this area has been significant for Burcher Jennings, and the firm is not alone – figures released by the Association of Costs Lawyers show 53% of members have seen increased demand for support from costs lawyers over the past 12 months. However, those same figures show 36% of costs lawyers found many solicitors remain in denial, or unaware, or the new demands. The whole sector should be aware of the benefits that the right costs lawyers can bring – as well as the issues the wrong choice of costs firm can create.
The potential for professional negligence claims means an experienced costs firm is a must
Neither Litigation nor Costing are services which can be easily replicated across different areas and require experience and know-how from professionals who have extensive expertise in a specific area. As many solicitors and costs firms have seen a significant drop in bulk work, this falling away has created the need for experience across specialised areas. There are some solicitors and costs firms, who operated predominantly in the personal injury field, but now claim to cover many areas of law such as clinical negligence. Many firms have already found themselves in difficulty. In a recent public event, Professor Dominic Regan, one of the UK’s foremost speakers on costs and dispute resolution and special adviser to the Association of Costs Lawyers anticipated “a surge in professional negligence claims against solicitors as a result of firms entering into areas of law with which they were unfamiliar.”
Expertise is crucial when choosing a costs firm
The introduction of budgeting means lawyers are now required to accurately cost work to be undertaken. At present, there is no available evidence to accurately assess the outcome of how firms will perform in light of this change, however, concerns lie with the available expertise amongst some legal service providers to tackle this complex area. It is therefore, crucial, to ensure that whoever you select has sufficient knowledge and has undertaken extensive work in this area to avoid any pitfalls
Martyn Jennings, chief executive at Burcher Jennings, highlights the important of make the right decision when it comes to a legal service provider in this field:
“It is critical to evaluate the breadth and depth of expertise of the service provider you are seeking to employ. Having been in the industry for many years, this is an area of practice that on the face of it may seem rather straightforward, but underneath it requires skilled professionals who have the proven technical expertise across their specific area. Focusing on how to get the right information from the right people in the right way is essential. A key part of our strategy for example, has always been having the right people on board to provide the quality of services that clients can trust and expect. Our mission is to create and maintain ‘Centres of Excellence’ where clients have direct access to the expertise required for the specific task in hand.”
Burcher Jennings now has one of the biggest concentration of costs lawyers under one umbrella. Its strategic development has been founded on four fundamental principles:
- breadth and depth of expertise
- relationship with firms
- providing correct advice
- high quality work from the outset
On 10 November 2015, Burcher Jennings will be holding a conference at Holborn Bars focusing on costs and will be particularly in relation to catastrophic injury and clinical negligence, funding, legal expenses insurance and pricing. The conference agenda and speakers will have a particular emphasis on contentious practice areas, and will also cover a full range of issues that are at the core of managing the modern mid-market law firm. Speakers include Dr Jay Jayamohan, Consultant Paediatric Neurosurgeon of BBC’s ‘Brain Doctors’ fame, Professor Dominic Regan, Dr Michael Powers QC, Richard Whale of DAS and Richard Burcher.