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Since the NHSLA announced the revamped panel in June this year (http://www.thelawyer.com/in-house/panel-reviews/nhsla-unveils-revamped-400m-panel/3005494.article) recruitment into the majority of these firm’s clinical negligence teams has been non-stop. Not all of the panel firms have seen the same level of recruitment activity, but certainly most have recruited up to half a dozen, if not more in some cases.
The question I had when I learnt that most of the named firms would need to recruit multiple solicitors was “there aren’t enough solicitors out there to fill all of the vacancies.” And there aren’t! The candidate market is very short on solicitors with defendant clinical negligence experience, however, all was not lost. Most of the panel firms have demonstrated excellent commercial acumen in their recruitment strategy since June and have assumed a more logical stance in respect to the type of candidates they will consider. They made a compromise, something very key to a successful recruitment strategy (http://www.bcllegal.com/the-brief/blog/why-making-a-compromise-doesn%E2%80%99t-have-to-be-a-negative).
If you would like to get into the area of defendant clinical negligence and work for one of the panel firms, you don’t necessarily need directly relevant experience. For example, solicitors with high value defendant catastrophic injury experience (so dealing with £1 million plus claims from start to finish) are of interest and so too are solicitors with claimant clinical negligence experience looking to transfer their area of practice to the other side. One or two of the panel firms have demonstrated even more flexibility and recruited newly qualified solicitors with very little personal injury experience, but instead have looked for a demonstrable interest in medicine. For example an LLM in Medicine and Healthcare or perhaps a parent is a doctor or surgeon can secure an interview.
Of course, getting an interview is one thing, turning up to the firm’s office, sitting through a case study, demonstrating that you have the right mind set to deal with extremely complex claims is another. The area of work doesn’t suit everyone and in my experience, candidates find interviewing for a defendant clinical negligence position a lot harder and academically taxing than they imagined.