North-west firm Fletchers Solicitors has launched a medical negligence marketing network with three other niche practices in a bid to compete with the biggest players in the market.
Chief executive Ed Fletcher told Legal Futures that the Medical Law Network aimed to allow firms to “maintain independence through group strength and a high-quality offering”.
He went on: “Clients of the network are getting experienced, established, boutique medical negligence firms with hundreds of years of experience between them. It’s effectively a quality mark.”
Mr Fletcher said the “lower end” of personal injury firms were diversifying into serious injury and medical negligence, issuing “spurious letters of claim” and “damaging the reputation of thoroughbred practitioners”.
At the same time, the NHSLA was looking “very hard and long” at solicitors’ profit costs.
Mr Fletcher said niche medical negligence firms could “steal a march” on the the big practices by tailoring their offering to clients much more sensitively. “It’s a far more level playing field than you would have thought,” he said.
Mr Fletcher said one of the network firms was Pryers, based in York. The names of the other two – one based in the Midlands, the other in the South – have not been released.
He said the network would “marry quality and processes” to challenge the likes of Slater & Gordon, Irwin Mitchell and Outspire, the legal process outsourcing group which last week said it had secured £8m-£12m of funding over five years for an ABS which would “dominate” the clinical negligence market.
In return for a fixed monthly contribution to the Medical Law Network and its services, firms receive “quality, vetted” medical negligence cases to work on.
Fletchers says it already generates one in every 10 medical negligence claims in the UK, much of it through the consumer-facing website Patient Claim Line.
“The network means our reach is far greater and we can speak to injured people in diverse channels,” Mr Fletcher said. “The world has changed and we need to speak to people in a slightly different way.”
Mr Fletcher said he was happy for the network to have “no more than six” members or eight “at the absolute tops”.
He added: “We’re really happy with the people we have on board. I would not consider bringing anyone else on board unless they had the right look and feel about them.”