In the latest of our Meet the Lawyer series, we speak with Michael Shiers, partner and head of personal injury and medical negligence, at Nash & Co Solicitors
Tell us about your experience to date
I attended Exeter University and completed the LLB (Hons) Law Degree and graduated in 1989. I then completed my Law Society Finals at the College of Law in London, and completed my training in a firm in Torquay, where I had previously undertaken work experience.
After qualification I took a job at Nash & Co to develop my injury caseload, and I never left! I started my career at Nash doing a mix of civil litigation and personal injury work, and then over the years began to specialise in injury work and built a mixed caseload on both personal injury and medical negligence work.
I was promoted to partner in 1996 and became head of department at the same time. During the late 1990s I took on responsibility for the firm’s various quality marks which at that time were Investors In People and Lexcel. This then naturally developed into the head of compliance role.
Over the years I have experienced a full range of case types and built up a vast amount of knowledge and skill.
What makes brain and spinal cord injury claims different to general personal injury claims?
When running claims which involve catastrophic injury you have to be very alive to the way in which their injury may affect their relationship with you as their lawyer. Their journey is inevitably fraught with difficulty and you need to establish a very personal rapport with them, and often their wider family or support network.
How important is it to appoint a lawyer with specialism in brain and spinal injury claims?
A lawyer with the depth and breadth of knowledge to pursue and maximise your claim is of course vital. You need a lawyer who can lay the foundations and build the claim, drawing on your knowledge and expertise.
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 recently acted on behalf of a client who was, before the accident, extremely high functioning both from a physical and professional perspective. He sustained a head injury following a road traffic collision and he struggled hugely with the change in lifestyle that came about following this accident.
Given his previous high level of executive function, the claimant continued to be able to work, but really struggled with his inability to undertake all of his pre-accident lifestyle and he was understandably upset and angry.
As with all clients who have sustained these types of injury, I had to work closely alongside him as quickly as possible such that I could begin to understand what was important to him, both as a client and as a person outside of litigation, and then adapt my style to suit his needs.
Can and should a client change their lawyer if they are not happy with how the case is progressing?
Yes, definitely. You need to know that you are adequately provided for, for life. And you also need to ensure that your chosen lawyer has taken the time and consideration to fully understand exactly what is important to you and your support network both in the present and going into the future and is able to advise you appropriately as to how this might sound in damages for you.
If you don’t feel that your lawyer is listening and understanding what you are saying, then you should always feel free to look elsewhere.
What do you look for when appointing or working with members of an MDT?
Over the years I have built up an array of working relationships in the wider professional community. I know which experts are right for each element of a client’s claim. It is really important to know that you can work alongside a wide range of professionals and appreciate that they will do the right job for you and your client.
How vital a role can the right MDT play in a client’s outcome?
Pursuing litigation at the same time as navigating a life-changing injury with all the medical appointments, adaptations to home and career and the inevitable impact that this has on a client’s mental health, is incredibly stressful and it is my job to reduce that to its easiest and most supportive level. This means that it is imperative to appoint a team of professionals around the claim which mean that the client is always put at the forefront.
Can you share a couple of your personal career highlights
Going to the RCJ for an Approval Hearing for a Royal Marine who had been brain injured in a Land Rover accident was a real highlight. This was a complex claim which required Periodical Payment Orders which settled for a very substantial sum into the millions.
This meant that his whole future was financially safeguarded, and we knew that we had played a small part in helping to maximise his future quality of life.
Tell us a little about your life outside of work
I live on the edge of Dartmoor with my wife who is a vulnerable client caseworker for Plymouth CAB. We have a grown up family of four girls who have pursued different career paths from tattoo artist to psychologist!
We have a spirited terrier called Eddie who keeps us on our toes.
I enjoy playing tennis, wine and going to the gym (not necessarily in that order!)
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