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Celebrating Success in Medical Negligence

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Daniel Phelps has been with Pearson Solicitors for a few years working as a paralegal in our medical negligence team. As a law firm, we have supported Daniel throughout his studies and we are pleased to announce he has qualified as a solicitor.

The route into law is not as rigid as it once was.  Daniel studied for A’levels at Oldham Sixth Form College, then an LLB Law with Criminology at the University of Manchester.  He completed his LPC and LLM Masters in Legal Practice at the University of Law and during this period he worked 4 days a week at Pearson, commencing his training contract in the final year of his Masters.

Here he talks about combining his studies with work and how he has finally achieved his ambition.

What made you want to be a solicitor?

This is a very hard question to answer, it is a career path that I didn’t envisage until I started studying Law at A-level. I chose Law initially as I enjoyed essay-based subjects and was told that I was good at arguing. I learnt that the law is forever changing and requires application to the facts and is not as clear cut as one might imagine. I really enjoyed that and thought I would enjoy further study at University.

Why medical negligence?

It’s a good split between the black letter law associated with litigation with the nuances associated with medicine. I believe it is a very important area of work that is quite often one of, if not the, most important thing going on in the client’s life at that time.

Medical negligence also has a good split between being sufficiently adversarial and cooperative, it is a very stimulating and challenging area to work in. My curiosity for medical negligence was piqued in my second year of university where I took an elective module “law, medicine and ethics” in which it built upon the principles of negligence from the tort law module and applied them to medicine and I knew then it was the right area for me.

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy the variety of cases that the role brings, no two medical negligence cases are the same and it keeps me interested. It is not a job that I can see ever becoming boring.

Pearson Solicitors have provided me with a good standard of training such that I have been able to qualify as a solicitor and hit the ground running. I know that support is there if I need it and the role I have within the department is valued.

That awful one, where you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?

It is an awful question! I would hope to be still in a job and still at Pearson! Ideally, I would like to look towards some form of judicial post but that may be a tad further away than 10 years.

What has shocked you most in medical negligence work?

It depends with regard to the worst of cases when considering emotions it would be the two year delay in diagnosis of cancer due to an administrative error. Technically worst would have to be the surgical errors which quite simply shouldn’t happen for example stapling the incorrect end of bowel or even a patient having their leg burnt during surgery.

However with regards to catastrophic injury, the cerebral palsy cases are always quite horrific and challenging emotionally, those clients need our help and it has to be all about the children and the effect the negligence has on the whole family.

Why do people need compensation?

Some people need compensation to put them in the place they would have been (insofar as possible) before the negligence, others require complex care and in order to maintain a quality of life they need money to pay for care.

In your opinion why do people make a medical negligence claim?

For some people, they need answers and closure, particularly when someone has sadly passed away. Others want to hold someone accountable for what they perceive to have been a wrong and want to prevent it from reoccurring. Some people do pursue claims for the money but it’s tempered with their need for care, physiotherapy or assistance after their injury.

What is it about your job that gives you a buzz?

I enjoy getting to grips with the medicine and negotiating settlements with Defendant’s solicitors. You have to think on your feet sometimes and often it is a case of strategy rather than the content of what you are saying. Sometimes you know you are in a bad position with regard to a case and you need to negotiate a settlement, there is no requirement to disclose expert evidence until proceedings have been issued so often the Defendant has to assume a risk-based approach. They do not know that our case isn’t as favourable as they might think and the settlement may be more cost effective. I enjoy having these discussions with the Defendant and securing a settlement.

Inspiring people to consider a career in law

Daniel is keen to support young learners and likes to get out and about in the area chatting with students and networking. Earlier this year he was invited back to Oldham Sixth Form College by Assistant Principal and Senior Leader Richard Lee to be the guest speaker at an Aspiring Lawyer’s Programme seminar run by the college.

The Aspiring Lawyer’s Programme is set up to ensure students wishing to pursue a career in law are in the best possible position to succeed by providing a variety of resources which include having access to ex-students, lawyers, and university lecturers.

Daniel was able to give an insight as to his reasons for becoming a lawyer, how to decide which area of law to specialise in, he also provided tips as to how the students should apply themselves to studying and how to stand out amongst the competition.

How can we help

If you are considering a career in law our team is happy to chat with aspiring young legal students. Call 0161 785 3500 or email enquiries@pearsonlegal.co.uk for advice

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by Daniel Phelps

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