Attwood Marshall Lawyers Compensation Law Partner and QLD Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, Jeremy Roche, talks about this dilemma faced by listed legal companies.
The recent financial problems experienced by Australian Stock Exchange listed company legal firm Slater & Gordon have highlighted the ethical dilemma faced by public company law firms which have a duty to shareholders to maximise the profits/dividends and, arguably, a competing higher duty to their clients to act in their best interests. It is natural to question the motives of a legal firm under such sustained financial pressure and wonder if the client’s claims are being properly prosecuted. A consortium of Hedge Funds have now acquired 95% ownership of the equity of Slater & Gordon which must have an impact on the culture of the firm and its day to day operations, not to mention a reported loss of lawyers and staff.
The dilemma is particularly relevant to personal injury or compensation claims being handled by the ASX national legal firms and how these claims are being managed. Attwood Marshall have taken over many files from other listed legal firms in circumstances where the clients felt that their claim was being compromised or settled for an amount that was less than what they thought their claim would be worth. There was a feeling that their claim had been rushed and not properly prepared with a perception that the law firm wanted to settle their claim and get paid for their costs as soon as possible. This is a classic example of the ethical tussle between a listed legal firm having two masters – clients and shareholders!
Whilst it is important to pursue a client’s claim for damages as quickly as possible, quite often in these types of cases a certain period of time must be left for the injuries to properly stabilise before proper medical evidence can be obtained that accurately reflects the severity of the injuries and the impact upon the client’s life/family. In many cases, these issues cannot be rushed and careful thought must be given to appropriate medical experts who can provide reports and ensure that the maximum amount of compensation is achieved for the client. In most personal injury claims, the client only has one chance to bring their claim and it is vital that the best evidence is obtained on their behalf to make sure that their settlement is appropriate considering all of the circumstances of their case.
WorkCover Qld and insurance companies as a general rule fiercely defend most claims brought against them and take any steps that they can to minimise the award of damages that are applicable to a claim. They are answerable to shareholders and Governments. It is unlikely that attempting to settle a matter as quickly as possible without properly preparing the case will result in a satisfactory settlement for the client. It is only through proper and thorough preparation of a personal injury claim that places you in a position to extract the best possible outcome from WorkCover or the insurance company involved. Prosecuting claims in this area is a stressful and emotionally draining exercise for the clients and it is important that they have faith in their lawyers to obtain the best result for them in their case.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers have a long history of fighting insurance companies and doing our best to obtain the right result for our clients. We have never taken a backward step from the insurance companies and believe that we have an excellent reputation with our opponents.
We offer a free consultation and assessment of your claim if you are unhappy with your existing lawyers. We will not charge you for the transfer of the file and will agree to accept your matter on a “no win no fee” basis in approved matters. Many people do not realise it is quite easy to transfer your file to another law firm. We can usually negotiate the release of your file on the basis that any reasonable costs are paid when the claim is settled or finalised.
If you require any further information about Compensation Claims please do not hesitate to contact Department Manager Kelli Costin on direct line 07 5506 8220, Freecall 1800 621 071 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a free initial consultation and discuss our ‘no win no fee’ service. We have a dedicated team of lawyers who specialise in this area of law and practice exclusively in compensation claims.