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Archive for the ‘Motoring solicitor’ Category

It’s Not About Numbers or Facts, It’s About People

Our team

Here at Forrest Williams, we are often asked about our success rates.

 

What percentage of people ‘get off’, ‘find a loophole’?

 

We love this question, because the answer is never what people expect.

 

Success is different to different people.

 

Success for one client is delaying an inevitable disqualification until October so she can keep her promise to her daughter about the fun-filled summer holiday they will have with lots of days out planned.

 

Success for another client is being patient with him as he asks the same questions several times a day because he is absolutely terrified by the whole procedure, then allowing him the freedom to plead guilty when a potential defence is present because he just needs to have the matter over with.

 

Success for another client is telling her, in very strong terms, to accept the Fixed Penalty and not spend thousands of pounds fighting it – like other firms have told her to – when there is no defence.

 

Success for many clients means a disqualification avoided, a conviction avoided, a conviction overturned on Appeal.

 

But success also means a successful application to have a driving licence returned early, allowing one client to see his children more often and expand his business.

 

And success sometimes means finding the most caring, sensitive barrister there is to represent a client at an incredibly vulnerable time in their life.

 

Sometimes, success is just having someone at the end of the phone who truly, truly cares.

 

There are as many versions of success as there are clients, and we are committed to obtaining the rest result for each individual client, whatever that may be.

 

If you believe that you deserve representation from experts who will see you as an individual, not as a number, give us a call.

 

Initial advice from one of our skilled and friendly case workers is always free, and we always advise you of the best course of action for you, not us. Call us on 01623 600645

 

How The Legal Aid Cuts May Affect Your Access To Specialist Motoring Solicitors

You may not have heard about the proposed legal aid changes, which will see the majority of Legal Aid practices no longer being able to offer Legal Aid services in as little as a year’s time.

 

While the news is sending ripples of panic and anger through the legal world, most of the public will have heard little, if anything, about the changes.

 

Basically, Legal Aid firms will be required to compete to secure contracts under the new regime, which will limit the number of Legal Aid firms allowed to operate in each area.  Whole counties may be reduced to as few as 8 Legal Aid firms to serve them in the future, and the applicants will be judged not on the quality of the service they provide or on the expertise of their staff, but on how little they are prepared to be paid for Legal Aid work.

 

If you require Legal Aid, you will be assigned to a particular firm.  You will not choose who represents you for what will, no doubt, be one of the most important situations you will have ever faced.

 

It is a race to the bottom.

 

Many people are imagining that private paying work such as the majority of motoring law will be unaffected by these changes.  As a private paying client, you will still have access to a wide variety of firms.  You will still be able to select who represents you based on any number of factors that are important to you.

 

It is easy to imagine that these changes will not affect you.

 

As with any shift, however, there will be ripple effects.  There will be firms desperately reliant on Legal Aid work who will be forced to search for ways to replace the income they will lose when they are not successfully given one of the Legal Aid contracts for their area.

 

Some of these firms will close.  This is a fact.  Very established general practices with a reliance on Legal Aid will not be able to survive without Legal Aid contracts.

 

Some other firms will continue to exist if they have large private client or commercial departments that can remain profitable.

 

And some will look for new streams of income.

 

The number of motoring law firms will increase as a result of the changes.  Solicitors who have a long-established and successful private Legal Aid practice will naturally look to private criminal and motoring law to replace some of their lost income.

 

This means that when you ring, intending to speak to a motoring law specialist who knows the intricacies of motoring law, you may actually speak to a department that still thinks, talks and acts like a criminal Legal Aid department.

 

These people may be excellent at defending you should you ever be charged with burglary, assault or criminal damage.  They will be brilliant at handling prison law cases, should you ever be sentenced to a custodial sentence or commit an offence – affray, for example – whilst in prison.  They will be used to sending out letters to clients at NFA (No Fixed Abode) and will be experienced at negotiating bail conditions and explaining why clients who have broken bail conditions should be given one last chance before being sent to prison.

 

The lawyers within these departments will be used to attending Court and juggling many clients all with cases to be heard that day – you, as a private motoring law client will expect a specialist solicitor or barrister who is focused solely on your case.  These lawyers will not be surprised to deal with clients who beg for prison sentences so they at least have a roof over their head – you may be fighting to avoid a disqualification so that you can keep your job and continue to pay for the roof over your head.

 

The criminal Legal Aid department is a very worthwhile, hard working and valuable organisation.  The changes to our Legal Aid system will be devastating for countless professionals who have devoted their careers to Legal Aid work, and the countless clients who need to be defended and have no way of funding private representation.

 

We are against the changes and stand in support of our colleagues who devote themselves to Legal Aid work.

 

But the changes are coming; they will happen; and the ripples will be far reaching.

 

Be prepared within the next year to see many new ‘motoring law firms’ emerge, with shiny new websites.  Be prepared to ask how long they have been specialists, how many speeding cases they have won due to incorrect signage, which case law they would rely on for a drink driving spiked drinks case.

 

The times are changing; be prepared.

An Open Letter To Motoring Solicitors from Forrest Williams

Dear Motoring Solicitors,

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Katie Forrest, and I have a dual role here at Forrest Williams.

As well as maintaining a full paralegal role, I am also the Business Development Manager.  This is deliberate: we believe that to develop a business you have to understand the business.  And so, I work on our business and in our business.

As Business Development Manager, I am always looking for ways of improving our business and increasing the clients we serve and the products and services we offer.

There are limitations to this, though.

Whilst we are a business, and have to make a profit in order to not only pay our own expenses and staff’s salaries, but also to remain in business and therefore to be able to help more people in the future, we also have an obligation to do the right thing.

The vast majority of people who ring us have little to no legal knowledge.  They see us as the legal experts, and they trust that what we tell them is correct.

I’m writing this open letter as a personal plea to some motoring solicitors who I know are not taking this obligation seriously enough.

I’d like to share the story of Miss K.  Miss K rang us recently facing a drink driving charge.  She was distraught.  We invested a great deal of time in reassuring her and discussing the best way forward for her.  She was quick to accept that she ‘held her hands up’, and she wanted to plead guilty and have strong mitigation presented to the Court to help her come away with the shortest disqualification.

Our role for her was one of damage limitation, as it is for many people.

The disqualification would have a devastating effect for Miss K, who owns a business and employs staff.  The consequences would affect not only her, but her business and her employees.

It was a serious case, and Miss K was grateful for the time we spent supporting her and advising her.

We had her advocate selected, her date in our diary, and then…

… she rang and cancelled her instructions to us.

She had gone elsewhere.

She had initially rang around several companies, and one of those motoring firms had called her some time after her initial discussion with them, and by which time she had instructed us to represent her.

This firm advised Miss K that she should plead not guilty and that they had a 100% success rate of winning cases like hers.  They virtually promised her that she would be found not guilty and would avoid a disqualification.

They advised this where no defence existed.  I can’t say it without sounding egotistical, but trust me, my firm know the defences.  If there is one there, we will find it.

Miss K, as a woman desperate to avoid a disqualification for her sake and the sake of her employees, took this opportunity and instructed this other firm.

I don’t mind that a client chose to go elsewhere.  I regularly advise callers to ring around several firms, and instruct the firm who they feel most comfortable with.  I do not aim to have every person who calls us become a client – some won’t be able to afford our prices, others will simply feel more comfortable with other firms for whatever reason.

What I mind, is that Miss K has been led to believe that she should plead not guilty when she shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, she isn’t alone.  I hear many callers tell me, “I’ve spoken to another firm and they’ve promised me I’ll be found not guilty”.

Not all motoring firms do this, of course.  There are some excellent firms out there who I know are committed to providing accurate advice.

But there is a small number of firms who seem to advise all callers that a not guilty plea is appropriate.  They tell these callers that they have access to expert witnesses, that they have loopholes other firms don’t know about, that they have strong success rates and don’t even need to see the client’s paperwork to virtually guarantee them being found not guilty.

Those firms know who they are, and it is those firms I would like to speak to and ask, why?  Why would you take advantage of desperate people when you are in such a position of trust?  Why would you guarantee success when you know you are not being honest?  Why would you advise clients who – when found guilty – will lose their jobs and income, that they require expert witnesses who will increase their costs without securing them success?

I speak to clients every day and I laugh and cry with them.  I work early and late and spend weekends in the office to prepare their cases at the times easiest for them.  I listen to their stories and I truly care about their lives.

I am honest with them, and I do what is best for them.

Today, for example, I took a call and obtained a new client.  Let me call her Mrs T.  She was devastated to find herself in the position of requiring our help for a drink driving offence.  She cried down the phone to me.

She sent me a detailed statement of the background leading up to the incident, and I sat and cried for her.

I made a call to one of the barristers’ Chambers who my firm work closely with.  I asked if a particular barrister – who I saw just days ago socially – could cover this case, because of his particular personal skills, and I re-arranged my Wednesday so that I could travel to his Chambers to meet with him and the client before the hearing date.

To the firms who are promising the world when they know they can’t deliver, I want to say this:

There is another way.

You can have a profitable business by doing the right thing.  You can have a client be amazingly happy with the outcome of their case even when they plead guilty.  You can build lasting relationships with colleagues and associates – like the barristers who we use time and time again and now consider to be friends – without being taken advantage of.

You can, and should, care so much that the idea of anyone being dishonest to or hurting your clients hurts you too.

And, if you don’t care that much, maybe you’re in the wrong field.  Maybe you need to remember that to each person who calls you, this is the biggest thing going on in their life.  Remember that they are scared, and they need someone to trust.  Someone who will be tough enough to tell them the honest prospects of their case, who will care enough to listen to them cry – and maybe join in; someone who will have the morals to advise them of the best course of action, not the most expensive.

If you don’t bring those things to the field, you shouldn’t be in the field.

Yours,

Katie Forrest

Forrest Williams TV