Clinical negligence partner Oliver Thorne has been interviewed by legal recruitment company, Chadwick Nott
Cathryn, who has known Oliver for 16 years, asked him about his own career choices and his experiences since moving to Slee Blackwell several years ago.
What makes Slee Blackwell and your clinical negligence team different from other teams specialising in this work?
We are a team with huge aspirations and haven’t set ourselves any boundaries. In building the clinical negligence team I have ensured that we can service the firm’s local and national client base, both new and existing. We deal with highly complex cases, coming up against some of the largest firms in the country and we certainly hold our own.
How is the team structured and how would you describe your management style?
We have three senior clinical negligence lawyers, totalling almost 60 years of experience between us. We also have junior lawyers, trainees and support staff. We’re unconventional in that we do not rely heavily upon traditional secretarial staff. We’ve invested in technology to ensure cases progress smoothly and at a good pace, which is in the best interest of our clients. As to my management style, I am very focussed on achieving the goals I’ve set myself and the team, and will provide the help and support to ensure we hit those objectives. My team would say I’m very approachable and am always here for them.
You qualified via the ILEX route, is this something you would recommend to others?
Absolutely, the knowledge and experience you gain from learning on the job is invaluable and it’s a way of specialising from an early stage in a particular area of law- it makes you a better lawyer, quicker! As a firm we are currently funding a number of lawyers through their CILEx studies. I have three trainee legal executives on my team. Unlike other firms, we are interested in whether you can do the job well, not your job title.
During the difficult last two years, what work would you say your team have been particularly proud of?
Adapting to a change in the way we work. We’ve invested heavily in software so we’ve all been learning at the same time as progressing our cases.
Did the pandemic affect your work/market and how did Slee Blackwell respond to the challenges it brought?
In the clinical negligence team we had a brief lull in new enquires during the lockdown. However, we subsequently experienced a huge bounce back effect when restrictions were lifted. The lull allowed us to adapt to a new way of working and concentrate on our existing cases and technological infrastructure. We have taken on a number of high value, high profile cases in the last 12 months and we are recruiting staff to deal with the volume of work we are undertaking as a firm.
What do you see happening in the future for lawyers specialising in clinical negligence?
The effect of fixed costs in clinical negligence claims will have a huge impact on some firms. We’ve seen it coming for years now so have set up our team, case management system and software to deal with it. When the inevitable does happen, we will be ready. If anything, I think we will see an increase in work as a result of firms who fail to adapt dropping out of the market.
And finally, what would you like to see change/more of in the legal profession?
Selfishly, what’s important to me is what is happening inside this firm and that our staff are happy and enjoy working for Slee Blackwell. In the wider profession,I would very much like to see a shift by some in accepting that a career in the legal sector is open to anyone, regardless of your background.