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Leigh Day

Work 020 7650 1200
Fax 020 7253 4433

Frances Swaine, managing partner

Managing partner Frances Swaine explains how Leigh Day is adapting to clients' changing needs.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Leigh Day from your competitors?

We are now a two site (London and Manchester) medium-sized practice with 350 staff including all partners. We act only for individual claimants in cases of maximum severity injury, complex public law issues, or multi-party claims. We are proud to offer an individual service to our clients, including those who live overseas and who have little literacy or no understanding of English. We are a boutique injury and claimant employment firm, whose staff seeks to offer a personal service in times of great external pressures to push lawyers to offer more retail services than anything else.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

We are always careful to assess the legal market for growth areas which fit the firm's ethos and skill set. We anticipate growth in British and overseas child abuse cases, and in the sphere of discrimination and employment issues, relating to matters such as equal pay and zero-hours contracts. The drivers behind both issues are social change and greater recognition of the very existence of historic child abuse - something that has been difficult to achieve recognition of in the past - and legal decisions on pay that assist those discriminated against in receiving the pay that is due to them.

What's the main change you've made in the firm that will benefit clients?

We have invested in a new IT system which has enabled more helpful case management for our clients. This portal has improved the case-tracking process and, as it develops, is making communication much more client friendly.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Yes.  Our new case management package enables B2C communication at a much more sophisticated level in our cycling teams. We are developing an app to assist our clients in attending medical and other expert appointments, and we are also expecting to introduce greater general access for our clients to check on their cases over the next 18 months. Our main consideration at the moment is to ensure security and data protection for client data. Once we are sure that these important considerations have been met to regulatory and legal standards we shall be in a better position to roll out these developments.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client and added value?

As a personal injury and human rights practice, we add considerable value to the lives of our clients on a daily basis. One example of our ability to do this in 2014/15 was in achieving significant sums of compensation for the fishing community of Bodo in the Niger Delta, where oil spills by Shell had ruined the livelihoods of fishermen dependent on fishing for income.  Both the individual fishermen and the community itself was awarded significant amounts to assist in putting their community to rights, including assistance with the oil clean-up which will be needed for the next 50 years.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms - where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

I expect that our firm will have continued to grow and develop as a boutique firm in the personal injury, human rights and employment fields.  We expect to expand the head count in our regional office(s) – currently one in Manchester – and that there will be fewer staff in central London.  We expect to maintain profitability in a challenging legal environment and to have continued in developing a model which will remain independent of the larger firms.

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