One of the many benefits of being a Trainee Solicitor at Hampson Hughes Solicitors is that I am frequently given the opportunity to attend training days that would normally only be available to fully qualified solicitors.
At Hampson Hughes Solicitors, the directors see trainees as the future of the firm and treat us as equals to those who are already qualified. We’re in a very privileged position.

Today (21st March 2013) both I and another trainee at Hampson Hughes Solicitors, Mark McErlane, have travelled to Manchester to attend the Spinal Injuries Association Solicitors training day.

The Course was held at the Peoples Museum and we were both greeted warmly by Kate Gelder from the Spinal Injuries Association.

Kate explained the agenda for the day as well as highlighted the particular speakers and sections of the day that would be the most relevant to us.

I am currently in my catastrophic injury “Seat” as a trainee and am lucky enough to be working alongside one of our Directors, Alisha Ward, who heads up this team at Hampson Hughes Solicitors. This training day was therefore of particular importance to me within this area of law.

The training began with a talk by Mr Brian Gardner – a consultant in spinal cord injuries. He advised how as lawyers, dealing with clients that have spinal cord injuries, we should be advising them on how to prolong their life expectancy.

Mr Gardner covered subjects such as advising clients with serious spinal injuries to give up smoking as this can reduce their life expectancy by up to ten years. Further areas he advised we should be speaking to our clients about to prolong their life were: weight reduction, getting back to work, sorting out adequate housing as soon as possible and encouraging clients to engage as much as possible with life again.

The next speaker was Mrs Rebecca Dytor. Mrs Dytor is an advanced physiotherapist who works for the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries.

Mrs Dytor was a fantastic speaker and kept us entertained throughout her presentation. She focused mainly on the specific type of rehabilitation that spinal injury clients need and that how we as lawyers acting for these types of clients need to ensure we get the appropriate treatment arranged as soon as possible for our clients.

Mrs Dytor finished her presentation with a slide show showing the recent Para Olympian success at the London 2012 games, showing that life is not over for a person who has suffered a spinal injury and that as lawyers acting for these clients, we have a great responsibility to ensure our clients receive the best possible care and support as soon as possible. We need to continue to support them emotionally and on a personal level throughout this difficult time in their lives.

Following lunch, two barristers from Outer Temple Chambers, Mr Jonathan Hand and Elliot Woolf, gave their talks.
Mr Hand and Mr Woolf gave a very detailed presentation on a very important issue of Accommodation Claims following spinal or other serious injury accidents.

Mr Hand and Mr Woolf spoke about the difficulty in securing appropriate housing for clients. They explained to us the calculation that the Court will use when calculating how much to award a successful Claimant to allow him or her purchase a new suitable home or provide them with the fund to made the alterations to their current home.
We were given a unique insight into the life of someone who has suffered a serious spinal injury as both Mark and I were honoured to meet Lee Cairns.

Lee had been a successful member of the RAF before being involved in a serious road traffic accident losing the use of his legs.

He is a true inspiration, having overcome so much he still remains upbeat and positive about his life.
Lee now works as a peer supporter for the armed forces. His role is to give support to other military personnel who have suffered a serious injury & Lee deals with people who have suffered similar injuries to him on a daily basis.
He takes time to talk with them about how they are feeling following their accident by drawing on his own personal experience. Lee acts a role model for these military personnel and as a reminder to us lawyers that we must be a positive influence in our client’s lives. We must strive to provide them with the right care, compensation and – ultimately- justice for what has happened to them.

Another talk from a barrister, Mr Patrick Sadd, spoke about the importance of the preparation of going to trial on these types of cases.

Mr Sadd advised that from initial instruction with these cases we should have in the back of our minds the thought of always taking these cases to trial. He highlighted the importance of acting as a legal team in preparation for trial with Counsel, the acting solicitor and the support staff all working together for the one goal of achieving the right settlement for the client, enabling them to continue to have best quality of life possible.
Mr Sadd spoke of the importance of witness statement in these particular types of cases and in particular about having a personal relationship with each and every witness.

Frenkel Topping spoke about the importance of managing the clients settlement sum once the final figure had been agreed.

Since working on the catastrophic injury team at Hampson Hughes Solicitors, I have had the opportunity to work alongside Frenkel Topping on many of our cases and it was greatly beneficial to receive some direct contact with Mr Steve Ashcroft (who gave the talk)