Mooneerams Solicitors are delighted to welcome on board our new personal injury solicitor, Rachael James who joined us at the beginning of November. We asked Rachael if she wouldn’t mind taking a few moments to join us in a question and answer session, so that our clients can get to know a bit more about her. Here’s what she had to say;
Rachael thanks for agreeing to talk to us, so that people can get to know you a little. First of all, welcome to Mooneerams!
RJ: Thank you. I’m delighted to be here.
We’re glad that you are here, too! First things first, where do you hail from originally?
RJ: I’m Cardiff born and bred and proud to be so.
Where did you do your studying?
RJ: Glamorgan University (now University of South Wales) and University of Law, Bristol.
How long have you worked in the legal profession for, to date?
RJ: I started in 2012 with my first role being at another firm of solicitors in Cardiff. Prior to that, I had undertaken a mini pupillage with a Barristers chambers in the city centre and I also had placements at various firms across Cardiff.
How long have you been qualified as a solicitor?
RJ: I qualified in early 2016 having trained at a firm in Newport.
What areas of law do you specialise in?
RJ: I work within the personal injury sector but I specialise in Occupiers Liability personal injury claims and, Employers Liability injury cases. These areas of law cover any injury sustained on any premises, including public places and injuries sustained in the course of employment.
Other than being very good at your specialist areas of law, what are the other qualities that you feel you bring to your work?
RJ: As clichéd as it might sound, I have always enjoyed working with people. I understand that clients come to us when they are at their most vulnerable. Injuries sustained by many of our clients can be significant and life changing, but even those injuries that may resolve within a few years, are capable of causing considerable disruption and distress to our client’s daily lives. Many of us do not understand how debilitating the consequences of these accidents can be. The stress that they cause to them, understandably comes as a great shock to our clients. I adopt a highly personal approach to my work and I attempt to alleviate as much stress as possible from my clients, allowing them to focus on what is really important – their recovery.
Do you have a favourite, stand out case that you have worked on (without naming names)? If so, what made it a special one for you?
RJ: The day that I qualified was the day my team settled what would be my first six figure compensation case. From a career perspective, it was ideal timing. However, the reality was that to get to that stage involved a long journey beforehand.
The case shouldn’t have taken as long as it did to settle. At the outset of the case, my client was a minor and so the case was being pursued by the youngster’s mother. I grew close to both of them and I was in awe of their strength in pursuing the case, despite some determined resistance from the Defendant who would not concede full liability and who would not make realistic offers of settlement. My client had suffered significant life changing injuries which affected daily life considerably. The injuries also affected the daily lives of the immediate family. It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that each day was a battle.
The Defendant was a health board and I was disappointed with the way that they handled the case. The medical evidence in favour of my client was overwhelming and the injuries were, to be candid, upsetting. I learned a great deal from this case.
The day the case finally settled reminded me of the importance of our role as solicitors, particularly in this area of law. Some may think that such high settlements as we achieved in this case, are over generous, but what many people don’t realise is that the purpose of such settlements is to help, as best as possible, the client to get back to the position that they would have been in, had the accident not happened. With very serious cases, sadly no amount of compensation can make that happen, in reality. However, with the compensation that a good solicitor can help them get, at least some amount of normality can be brought back to their lives. For instance, adaptions to their home can be paid for, recovery of loss of earnings due to inability to work means that they are financially recompensed. Also, the fact that in the future, any handicap that the accident has caused them on the open labour market is compensated for i.e. if the injuries prevent them in the future from working. Care services can be provided too. These losses over a longer period of time equate to a significant amount of money.
What do you find most frustrating about working in the legal profession?
RJ: The misconceptions currently surrounding personal injury law. There have been attempts to build the idea that this country is experiencing a claims culture at present – that, in my view, is not the case.
The risk assessments, procedures and strategies in place to identify any type of fraudulent claim are significant. However, due to the hyping up by the insurance companies and the tabloid press, of this ‘myth’ of a claims culture, there are persistent attempts to essentially put people off making genuine claims, when they have every right to do so. Making people who suffer injuries as a result of someone else’s fault, feel so guilty about making claim, that they feel they ought not do so, is wholly wrong. It is simply preventing them from getting the justice they deserve!
What do you find most rewarding about the work that you do?
RJ: Helping our clients to return to some kind of “normality”. Sometimes, due to the nature of injuries, that cannot be possible. However, by working together, we help them to adapt and find a new ‘normal’ which works for our clients and their families.
Clients place their trust in us at a point in their lives where they may feel quite exposed and, speaking candidly, feel very fragile. Achieving access to justice on their behalf, is a hugely rewarding accomplishment. ‘Access to Justice’ for the client, may mean the compensation required to help get their lives back to normal, or it can, more simply, just be to provide an answer to the question, ‘how and why did this happen?’ Sometimes, our investigations can prompt a revision of existing policies and procedures and be a catalyst for further training and risk assessments to be carried out, in an attempt to prevent similar accidents occurring again in the future.
Why did you decide to join Mooneerams?
RJ: Mooneerams have developed the reputation of being THE personal injury law firm in South Wales. The personal injury litigation sector of the solicitor’s profession, has undergone drastic changes during the past 10 years and has consequently become a system under considerable strain. Additionally, it seems inevitable that more changes are yet to come.
Despite such challenges, Mooneerams have stood out from other firms nationwide as they have grown from strength to strength. I did my research before joining Mooneerams and it revealed to me that the firm is quick to adapt to such challenges, without jeopardising the service they provide to their clients. Being the area law that I practise in and the area that I see my future in, joining their team from a career perspective made absolute sense.
In addition to Mooneerams’ prestigious legal and business profile, they have also established a reputation of going that extra mile for their clients. Working closely with clients is hugely important to me and I wanted to join a firm where that attitude is encouraged.
It’s early days, but how have you found your first few weeks at your new workplace?
RJ: The energy in the office is so vibrant – its great! It has been refreshing to join a team of enthusiastic, hardworking solicitors. As is quite common in the legal industry, some offices and legal representatives can, dare I say, have an aura of arrogance about them. There is no sense of that here whatsoever.
I must also say, I am impressed as to the amount I have already learned in the very short space of time that I have been with the firm, so far. I have been working in the personal injury sector for over 6 years, but I can confidently say I have not learned this amount in such a short space of time previously. These guys clearly know their stuff. It’s comforting to know that I have joined an experienced, specialist team who take pride in what they do.
When you are not working, what do you like to do when you find yourself with some free time?
RJ: A few years ago, my answer would have been be some sports (watching and participating), socialising and music. However, since having my young daughter, my hobbies have changed – albeit for the better. My spare time is spent enjoying my young family. We love the outdoors, so you’ll usually find us at the beach, enjoying the Welsh countryside or, perhaps more likely, in a park.
Having a young daughter, I am also trying to expand on my cooking abilities. I will however always make time for tennis, especially if Roger Federer is playing!
Thank you very much for your time, Rachael. We hope that you have a long and very enjoyable career ahead of you at Mooneerams.
RJ: Thank you, my pleasure – and that is my fervent wish too!
Rachael works at Mooneerams office in Cardiff and like all our experienced lawyers, can be contacted on 029 2048 3615 or by email [email protected].