April 2013 to September 2013 has been a quiet period for the claimant personal injury market. At BCL Legal during that period we had no claimant personal injury roles registered across the East and West Midlands.
Just this month alone we have had three different firms register new claimant PI opportunities. The scrapping of referral fees and the fixing of costs when handling fast track cases has resulted in the winding down of small practices who could no longer make claimant PI pay alongside the consolidation of the larger players in the market.
Some of these new opportunities are down to the reorganisation of departments – experienced fee earners have been nervously awaiting their firm’s response to the Jackson reforms to see if the firm will survive and what form the survival will take. Some have come about due to robust post Jackson strategies put together by talented costs draftspersons who are worth their weight in gold to claimant practices struggling to survive.
Remodelling has paved the way for more junior fee earners to find a foot in the door as they cost less; the victims have been the highly skilled but highly paid (in comparison) legal executives and solicitors who have been part of this streamlining process. The resulting effects leave more work to fewer fee earners, meaning moral is low and stress levels are high.
So what is next for these experienced claimant PI fee earners? There are a number of defendant insurance firms across the East and West Midlands favouring claimant PI experience. Those with large loss, complex or psychological pain, or catastrophic experience will find there are ample opportunities albeit they may have to travel further for roles. Similarly claimant fee earners with employer’s liability and public liability experience will find a number of casualty fee earner roles at the large defendant practices to include both fraudulent and non fraudulent matters. Those with purely RTA experience have been the hardest hit finding there are limited opportunities outside of RTA fraud.
The downturn of the claimant PI market is bound to have a knock on effect further down the line for the defendant side of things, however, for now there seems greater confidence in the market at the junior level, and the opportunity to diversity at the experienced end.