In our latest Meet the Lawyer interview, we speak with Rebecca Brisley, associate solicitor at Nash & Co Solicitors, about her career to date and how she feels privileged to support clients and families through some of their most difficult times
Tell us about your experience to date
I attended the LLB Law (Hons) course at Plymouth University, and thereafter went on to complete the Legal Practice Course at Exeter University, and then qualified into a personal injury department in April 2007 in a high street firm.
I was promoted to associate a few years later and, having grown a varied caseload of injury files which included some medical negligence work, I then decided to make the move to join another firm which had a bigger specialist medical negligence department where I improved my depth of knowledge and experience.
From there I then took on the challenge of starting and building a PI and medical negligence department in the Plymouth office at another firm. I spent a few years there building up a substantial caseload from scratch. This was a multi-office firm which specialised solely in injury work and I missed the buzz of a high street firm which is when I made the move to Nash & Co Solicitors.
Over the years I have experienced a full range of case types and built up a vast amount of knowledge and skill. Working with any claimant is a privilege, and irrespective of the outcome of the claim, I know that I have helped to support my client and their family at what is likely one of the darker times in their lives.
What makes brain and spinal cord injury claims different to general personal injury claims?
Claims can be life changing or at the least, life limiting for all manner of reasons. Of course, those claims which involve brain or spinal cord injuries are never less than catastrophic to the claimant and to their wider family. Navigating this new world is complex and fraught with difficulty and requires a depth of knowledge and understanding that comes from experience.
How important is it to appoint a lawyer with specialism in brain and spinal injury claims?
It is absolutely vital that you instruct the right lawyer. Not only do you need to trust your lawyer to be able to build the claim and direct it in the right way, you also need to build a strong working relationship with them too. These claims often take years to conclude and whilst they hopefully end on a high, there are always inevitable lows, and difficulties along the way. It’s therefore imperative that you know that your lawyer is going to support you and your family all the way through your litigation journey.
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 worked on a very sad case involving a man who had fallen down the stairs and sustained a catastrophic brain injury. Sadly, the ambulance service failed to convey him to hospital and his injury continued to worsen until such time as his family called another ambulance and the new paramedic on scene recognised that he was a very poorly man. Unfortunately whilst his surgery saved his life, his injury had, as a result of the delay, left him with severe cognitive difficulties and he required 24-hour care.
As with many cases, the issue of causation was difficult as the experts were not in agreement as to the extent of his injury but for the delay in conveying him to hospital. The claimant and his family were French and so the language barrier was another hurdle to overcome. I wanted to ensure that he had a good level of understanding of both the legal advice and the medical evidence.
There were cross jurisdictional issues in relation to the issue of pension loss, which was also tricky to navigate, but the claim did eventually settle in the claimant’s favour.
Can and should a client change their lawyer if they are not happy with how the case is progressing?
Absolutely. As I mentioned above, it is of the utmost importance that you are able to build a good rapport with your chosen lawyer. You often need to share intimate detail of your life, and you need to feel comfortable in doing so.
You also need to know that your lawyer is going to be on the end of the phone when you need them, and that they are willing to put in the time to travel to see you when necessary.
If you don’t feel that you are getting the level of service that you deserve, you should always remember that you retain freedom of choice to instruct whomever you may choose, at whatever stage of your claim.
What do you look for when appointing or working with members of an MDT?
As you may have gleaned from the above, I place great importance on relationships. They play a huge part in these claims and so I always like to ensure that we have a team of people around the claim who are all team players and who are happy to come together to share knowledge and experience and work towards achieving the best possible outcome for the claimant.
What’s best for the claimant should always be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, no matter what your role in the claim is.
How vital a role can the right MDT play in a client’s outcome?
It is essential that you surround yourself with a team of lawyers and experts, no matter what their discipline, whose sole aim is focused on what is best for the claimant. Anything less is just not good enough. After all, these are the people who are getting you over the finish line, and it’s only by working together that you will achieve the greatest success for your client.
It’s equally as important to remember that success doesn’t always have to include financial success. As a baseline, you need to ensure that everyone wants to achieve the best quality of life for the client and their family.
Can you share a couple of your personal career highlights
Everything is a highlight! It is a privilege to be able to help people in what can be their darkest hour.
Tell us a little about your life outside of work
I love being on the go outside of work with my two daughters – whether its walking the dog, enjoying family days out or spending time with our wider family and friends. As a family unit, we love making the most of living in Devon with beautiful beaches and Dartmoor right on our doorstep.
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