In the latest of our Meet the Lawyer series, we speak with Laura Preston, principal lawyer at Slater and Gordon, about her commitment to clients and the importance of assembling the right MDT
Tell us about your experience to date
I first worked in the legal research department of a large national law firm, secured a training contract with them in 2009 and qualified into clinical negligence in 2011. I moved to Slater and Gordon in 2014 and have worked solely as a clinical negligence claimant lawyer since qualification.
What makes brain and spinal cord injury claims different to general personal injury claims?
The medicine is complex and fascinating; both in relation to liability investigations and then quantum where we are focused on long term condition, prognosis and rehabilitation. No two cases are the same and the impact for the individual is always very significant, which means you can’t help but forge long lasting and close relationships with clients as their cases often last for years.
How important is it to appoint a lawyer with specialism in brain and spinal injury claims?
Vital. The work is specialist and those of us who do it day in day out will be able to source the best experts for your case, which is ultimately what you need to get the best outcome possible.
Can you share an example of a particularly challenging case you have worked on, and how you overcame these challenges, to secure a positive outcome for the client?
I represented a client who sustained a catastrophic spinal cord injury, which meant his life changed beyond all recognition. He struggled to mentally cope with what had happened to him and the permanence of his situation.
I pushed his case forwards as quickly as possible and managed to secure an early admission of liability which meant we could seek interim payments of damages and get compensation flowing to him as quickly as possible. This aided his rehabilitation and also meant that he could focus on getting the right support in place whilst the case continued forwards to conclusion.
On settlement we recovered several million pounds as a lump sum with annual payments for life alongside.
Can and should a client change their lawyer if they are not happy with how the case is progressing?
Yes, they can change their lawyer. The relationship between lawyer and client is very important for both sides.
Obviously, a first port of call would be to speak to their existing representative and be honest about what they are dissatisfied with. It may be that with clear communication, this can be quickly resolved. If it’s still not working then looking for another specialist is an option to consider and can usually be fairly straightforward to arrange.
What do you look for when appointing or working with members of an MDT?
Trusted experts who are a good fit for the individual claimant and who have experience of working in an MDT setting.
How vital a role can the right MDT play in a client’s outcome?
Pivotal – early rehabilitation is key to improving outcomes.
In clinical negligence cases, a key frustration can be our inability to secure interim payments owing to long liability battles which may last for years and mean the crucial early window for rehabilitation can be lost. It is, therefore, essential to make sure the MDT, once in place, is as effective and bespoke as possible.
Can you share a couple of your personal career highlights
Winning Trainee Solicitor of the Year at the Yorkshire Lawyer Awards in 2010
Being part of the core legal team who secured a £37million settlement on behalf of claimants in the Ian Paterson litigation in September 2017.
Tell us a little about your life outside of work
I am a keen cook and enjoy combining my desire to learn to cook many different cuisines with travel whenever I can get abroad. Any new recipes I learn, I like to try out on friends and family over dinner with a bottle of good wine.
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