Q: Hi James, tell us about yourself!
A: I’ve been at Newnham & Jordan for approaching 2 years now and have seen my caseload increase dramatically in that time. I specialise in personal injury claims, landlord & tenant disputes. I also have a successful department in debt recovery cases and contract disputes. I have been doing this type of work for almost 14 years. I am originally from Bristol but now live on the Dorset / Somerset border but have moved around the country with work developing and turning around the fortunes of legal departments.
Q: You’ve worked on quite a few cases throughout the years, what has been your biggest challenge or obstacle in terms of the professional services that you provide?
A: My biggest challenge in terms of the professional service I offer is something which many lawyers, especially those in personal injury currently face; that is maintaining the same level of work and professionalism but at a far reduced cost. In recent years the profession has taken a battering in respect of the professional fees that personal injury lawyers are able to recover. The majority of cases are now subject to fixed fees plus a deduction from the clients’ damages in a successful case and not on an hourly rate basis. This generally means that we only get paid if the case is successful. Ultimately, it is a challenge to maintain that balance of professionalism and profitability but we are managing that successfully at N&J. I regularly say to the team at N&J, there is still money to be made in PI for both the client and the lawyer, if you know what you’re doing. My approach is to embrace the rule changes and maximise the damages received for the client wherever possible.
Q: Across your career to date, what’s been your biggest/ most successful case?
A: There have been a number of memorable bigger cases both in terms of complexity of the issues which I have been involved in. Some have even been reported in local press. I would say that the case which was most memorable involved a car incident and a neighbor dispute arising over parking which escalated to the Defendant repeatedly hitting the Claimant’s car with his door. I acted for the Claimant. The matter reached the county court in Tamworth, twice. The case was listed for an afternoon final hearing but went part heard with only the Claimant’s evidence and cross-examination being given and as it appeared significant holes being knocked in the Claimant’s case. My Counsel advised me to drop the case in view of the significant damage done under cross-examination. However, I remained convinced that the Claimant’s account was true and ought to be preferred to the Defendant’s story. So, I dis-instructed counsel and instructed a new counsel whom I continue to instruct on a regular basis. At the second hearing my new counsel did maximum damage to the Defendant’s story under our cross-examination which ultimately resulted in a successful outcome for the Claimant and judgment was awarded in our favor. I am particularly proud of this result in view of turning the case around from the jaws of a defeat.
Q: How would you describe your work style?
A: My work style is one where I am continually thinking about the goal that a client seeks. What is it that the client is looking to achieve? What would be a decent result? And how do I get to that position? Are all questions I ask myself when dealing with cases. Strategy and tactical decisions are often undermined or ignored by lawyers but these are important qualities that a lawyer must now possess.
Q: What made you decide to pursue a career in litigation ?
A: My first legal job was in road traffic litigation and my career has very much stemmed from that point. I was a litigator at a firm in Bath where issuing legal proceedings was very much the name of the game. This job taught me 2 valuable lessons. 1: a litigator must be organised. I could not do this job without a diary and 2: don’t just push paper around. Clients want to see action and results; not endless letters being sent and going round in circles.
Q: In what ways is Newnham & Jordan Solicitors different from other law firms out there?
A: Many litigators forget the reason why they entered the profession. If, as many do, say that a claim is not worth them pursuing on that person’s behalf, that sends out entirely the wrong message. Yes, we need to earn a fee and therefore we do need to charge but I look at the case and its prospects to see if I can help first and then ensure that I can keep the legal costs proportionate.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years-time?
A: Sitting as a District Judge.
Q: How do you spend your time outside the office?
A: Outside of work I am a keen artist, both as a painter and collector. I am an avid football fan and Formula 1 fan.
Q: Advice for anyone who has had a personal injury or any other form of dispute?
A: My advice here is simple: don’t be afraid to contact us and let us try and take some of the worry from you.