A law firm specialising exclusively in personal injury (PI) work might be expected to be modern and ultra-progressive – and Manchester firm Branton Edwards does not disappoint.
“We’ve adopted a very commercial approach and run the practice more as a business than a traditional law firm,” says managing partner David Edwards. “Teams of lawyers work on individual accounts and all the partners look at ways of developing new business, at the same time as retaining the business we’ve acquired. We’re constantly looking at ways to innovate.”
The quest for innovation and efficiency led to the introduction of an Axxia case management system, as well as WinScribe digital dictation technology. “We’ve spent a lot of money developing these systems, and we seek to reinvest in technology each year,” says Edwards. The WinScribe system, which enables the electronic outsourcing of tapes, was introduced within three weeks. It means that no solicitor ever has to wait longer than 48 hours for a tape to be transcribed. “It’s been incredibly successful and makes a real difference,” enthuses Edwards.
The firm handles PI work, and nothing but. “We’re sometimes asked to do things like conveyancing and employment, but we made the decision to specialise when we set up in 1995 and don’t want to dilute the expertise and reputation we’ve built up,” says Edwards.
The firm was established at the time when rules on advertising for claims work were relaxed, when there was “a real feeling that in today’s legal marketplace you need to be a specialist”, according to Edwards.
Branton Edwards now has a total staff of 50 who handle work split into three distinct areas. There is a road traffic department, an industrial disease department and one dealing with accidents at work and public liability. Each department is headed by an equity partner. The firm’s trainees are seconded to other firms to complete the heads set by the Law Society.
A major source of work is the firm’s membership of the InjuryLawyers4U Group, a consortium of PI lawyers set up to promote direct access to solicitors for injured people who wish to make claims. Middlemen and accident management companies are cut out, and Edwards stresses that, through the group, claimants are provided with continuity and dedicated lawyers who are familiar with their claims.
All work is handled on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, and Edwards estimates that the largest settlement to date was in the region of £2.5m.
The future holds “organic expansion”, says Edwards, always with an underlying progressive attitude. A recent innovation has been the introduction of flexible working hours. “Core hours are 10am to 4pm. Either side of that people can work at their own discretion,” he adds.
Budgets are reviewed at the end of each year and fresh targets set. With its slick, business-like demeanour, coupled with an enlightened attitude to staff, there would appear to be every likelihood that Branton Edwards’ 2004 targets will be met comfortably.
|Executive||Managing partner David Edwards|
|Total number of partners||Five|
|Total number of solicitors||27|
|Main practice area||Personal injury|
|Key clients||InjuryLawyers4U, various legal expense insurers and funders and claims marketing companies|
|Number of offices||One|