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Financial & professional risk

21 March 2011

What does the team do?

Professional negligence – the team acts for insurers who have provided professional indemnity cover for a wide variety of professionals such as solicitors, accountants, barristers, IFAs and estate agents, amongst others. We firstly advise the insurer whether they are liable to pay out on a claim and then, if they are liable, we will work with the insurer and the insured professional to defend the claim that has been made against them. Occasionally we will act directly for someone who does not have the benefit of insurance in defending a professional negligence claim that has been made against them.

What type of work does a trainee do?

As a trainee I have had involvement in a wide range of tasks: drafting pleadings, writing letters of advice to insurers, attendance at court hearings, instructing counsel and experts, and dealing with disclosure. Most of the work consists of drafting tasks, but there are some research tasks that will focus on specific issues that have arisen during the course of a case.

What level of responsibility/hands on experience (i.e. manage your own files etc) does a trainee receive?

On the larger files I will assist on specific tasks in taking claims forward, but for the smaller files I have had the opportunity to manage them myself from start to finish, though of course still under close supervision.

How much client contact does a trainee get?

As our clients are mainly major insurers there has been little face to face contact with them, but I speak to the claims handlers and the insured professional on a daily basis concerning my files, either by phone or e-mail. I did have to attend the office of an estate agent we were representing in order to get defence papers approved and signed before filing them at the court on what was a hectic day! I have also sat in on client meetings where we have not been acting for one of our usual insurer clients.

What has been the highlight for you in this seat?

The highlight has to be when I attended the land valuation tribunal in London and sat behind Counsel whilst he made submissions on our behalf. I attended alone so I was the sole person available to assist Counsel during the hearing. During the course of the day I had to be ready with information or papers for Counsel as and when the claimant’s arguments evolved, and I had to conduct some emergency research into, and analysis of, some cases that the panel said they were going to rely upon in reaching a decision, which influenced Counsel’s submissions and had an impact in swinging the case in our favour. This was a highlight for me as it was an opportunity to fend for myself and my input made a difference to the outcome of the claim.