The Lawyer Africa Elite 2014 features an in-depth look at 46 leading independent firms’ strategies in 15 key sub-Saharan jurisdictions, as well as the views of in-house counsel from some of Africa’s largest companies... Read more
This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover is available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool. For the first time this will allow you to manipulate each data set against the metrics of your choice.
JS Miller Solicitors senior managing partner Jeanette Miller knows more than just the technical side of personal injury (PI) litigation. As a trainee solicitor she became a victim herself after she fell down some faulty steps and injured her back at work. She successfully sued and the experience motivated her to form her own eponymous practice. Its ethos would be that lawyers should recognise that PI claims are not just about recovering money, but are also about regaining physical fitness and achieving some form of recognition for the pain, suffering and injustice a victim experiences following an accident.
Miller set up her firm in 2001. She says: “All too often these days, access to a lawyer has become dependant on one’s financial means to pay for advice. We’re happy to deal with inquiries from members of the public on any legal query. The query might not lead to us making any money, but I simply ask that the inquirer contacts us again if and when they need legal advice.”
It is an approach that is paying dividends. The practice’s workload is 80 per cent claimant PI, and the firm is expanding at a time when many larger PI practices are contracting. Miller says that bolt-on hires might be on the agenda. “We’ve just moved to new premises, and in five years I can see that we’ll have moved on again because our present space won’t be big enough,” she says.
Members of the public have been only too happy to take up JS Miller’s offer of answering initial legal queries for free. Many are coming back for more. If the query turns into a valid case, a suitable funding arrangement will be offered. If it does not, the firm will not charge for undertaking initial inquiries or answering simple queries over the telephone.
Miller will also refer clients to a network of firms when her own firm does not have the knowledge to handle a particular query. “We’re focussed on providing as good a service as possible, and want people to remember us as doing so,” she says. “We’ve had excellent feedback about this, which comes down to building goodwill and helping people. I have no problem referring work on.”
Her attitude is illustrated further by the firm’s letterhead. JS, which stands for Jeanette Sarah, also doubles for ‘justice and support’. “This is what we’re trying to achieve for clients,” says Miller, whose father Jeffrey is her fellow partner in the firm. “He thinks I might be the youngest Lexel-accredited managing partner,” she adds. She applied for the Law Society kite mark at the same time as entering the firm for the People in Business Awards and was successful in attaining both.
“We’ve adopted a US attitude to customer service,” says Miller. “If a client contacts us, we’ll get back to them the next day, in writing or by phone, as they require. Having been both a client and an employee, I remember what it’s like, and it’s vital to communicate in an organised, efficient way.”
JS Miller Solicitors
Senior managing partner
Total number of partners
Total number of solicitors
Main practice areas
Claimant personal injury, civil litigation, wills and probate