Key senior appointment as Hudgell Solicitors invests in ability to continue fighting injustice for all despite fixed costs squeeze

Jennifer Dougal

Jennifer Dougal, Head of Operations, Hudgell Solicitors

Hudgell Solicitors has appointed a new Head of Operations and revealed a new ‘vision, mission and purpose’ as part of a three-year strategy to ensure it ‘continues challenging injustice in a world of increased fixed legal costs.’

It has seen Jennifer Dougal, a solicitor with a proven track-record of leading teams within the personal injury and clinical negligence sector, and who has extensive experience of operational efficiency planning, appointed as Head of Operations.

She will work closely with Chief Executive Rachel Di Clemente and heads of departments across the firm with a focus on ensuring maximum efficiency in running cases, to ensure Hudgells is able to continue meeting its pledge of making ‘justice accessible to all’.

Mrs Dougal qualified as a solicitor in 2009 and has spent the majority of her career running high-value personal injury and clinical negligence claims. She joins from Jefferies Solicitors, where she was Operations Director.

She is also a member of Law Society Small Firms Advisory Committee and was previously a member of the Civil Justice Committee working party which mediated the fixed fee costs regime for Noise-Induced Hearing Loss claims, due to be implemented in October 2023.

“My role at Hudgells is going to be very much focussed on looking towards the future and supporting Rachel to ensure we are in a positon to be able to continue supporting all clients who are seeking redress and justice as we do now, up against an ever-increasing environment of fixed costs,” said Mrs Dougal.

“We have to be able to adapt to the new challenges we face to be able to continue to offer clients the same high-level of service. We need to ensure we are working as efficiently as possible, in every aspect of our work, and using technology where we can to assist us with this.

“When speaking to Rachel I was impressed by the infectious passion and enthusiasm at Hudgells in delivering justice for clients, the firm’s clarity of vision and purpose and their commitment to continuing to service fixed costs personal injury and clinical negligence work. I hope to be able to enhance this further and strengthen our position in these markets moving forward.”

Michelle Maltby

Michelle Maltby, Chief People Officer, Hudgell Solicitors

Whilst Mrs Dougal is a new face at Hudgells, one of the longest serving, Michelle Maltby – part of the Executive Management Team and someone with more than two decades of experience at the business – has moved into the role of Chief People Officer.

Hudgells’ 3-year strategy includes a significant investment in the development and engagement of its people and Mrs Maltby’s role will ensure that this receives the required focus.

Firm remains 100% committed to personal injury and clinical negligence work

“We’re 100% committed to ensuring legal reforms, and constant squeezes of firms operating in the personal injury and clinical negligence sectors, do not impact on what we are here to do, and that is support people who need us in difficult times,” said Chief Executive Rachel Di Clemente.

“I am long in the tooth enough to have worked in this sector through both the Woolf and Jackson Reforms, but the changes later this year are a whole new kettle of fish – alongside being drafted in a way that will undoubtedly create years of satellite litigation and ensuing delays, they appear in many areas to be illogical and risk blocking justice entirely for many decent hard-working people.

“We expect some firms in the personal injury and clinical negligence markets to exit the sector once again, indeed we have seen a few already place a limit of the value of cases they will accept, but we have been working hard to find ways to ensure that we are able to continue to help the many people whose claims will be captured by the fixed costs regime. It is simply not within Hudgells’ DNA to have to turn away people who need our support because their case isn’t deemed to be of sufficient value.

“We are very proud of our reputation for excellent client care here at Hudgells, and we must find ways to ensure that we can manage clients’ expectations within a fixed cost environment where, in some cases, it will simply not be possible to provide the same ‘kind of service’ that we have been doing to date. However, we are committed to still providing the same ‘level of service’ even if it looks slightly different to how we do things today.

“Jennifer joins us with a very strong background in data, performance and technology and her work will be centred on ensuring we have the processes in place to be able to continue to progress claims and reassure our clients throughout the journey, despite the challenging level of fixed recoverable costs available. She will be supporting the Executive Management Team with delivery of our strategic plan and leading on key operational objectives.

“Michelle’s new role is equally important at a time when demand for legal resource is particularly strong and flexible working has removed geographical barriers for so many. We see recruitment and retention as one of the biggest risks in our legal sector at this time and we must, and will, invest even more in our people.”

Exciting time to join

Mrs Dougal added: “It’s a really exciting time to be joining Hudgell Solicitors, especially given the growth of firm’s presence within the North West in recent years, combined with an appetite to lead high-profile work which aligns well with my own values of not shying away from a challenge and fighting for those most in need of our help.

“Through my experience of representing personal injury, clinical negligence and industrial disease clients, leading teams over the last 15 years and having a decade of experience in analysing complex legal processes and data sets to identify efficiencies and improvement, I aim to not only to increase efficiency and profits, but also enhance the customer experience, which I know is paramount to Hudgells in all they do.”


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