Dutton Gregory: "First4Lawyers offer a more personal experience by insisting on face-to-face meetings to see if both businesses are a good fit for each other"

Dorset and Hampshire firm Dutton Gregory Solicitors are a medium sized firm covering a wide range of practice areas, including medical negligence, and are headed by partner Carol Maunder out of the firm’s Bournemouth office.

Carol first contacted First4Lawyers seven years ago in 2013, when she was looking for a fresh approach to how the firm reached new clients.

Carol says, “We had worked with a number of claims management companies over the years, which worked with varying degrees of success, but I was looking for a fresh approach and for a company who really wanted to work with us to ensure we were reaching the right client targets. I was aware of First4Lawyers as a brand, after seeing an article about them in the press. I thought I’d get in touch and see what it was they could offer.”

That offering turned out to be a more personalised experience than Carol had had with other CMC’s, she explains, “First4Lawyers offer a more personal experience by insisting on face-to-face meetings to see if both businesses are a good fit for each other. These meetings allow expectations from both sides to be clearly communicated and managed. Their pricing structure is clear and they were very open to us speaking to others on their panel before committing. I found this particularly reassuring as I was able to speak to the firms directly and see what their experience of working with First4Lawyers had been like, and to find out it wasn’t just a sales pitch!”

And that has rung true for Carol over the years, what they have found in First4Lawyers is a relationship that has flexed and grown as the firm has needed. Carol explains, “the last few years have been one of flux for the sector with both the Civil Liability Act and the prospect of fixed recoverable costs for clinical negligence claims continuing to rumble on, and of course the effects of the pandemic.

“As such over the years, we’ve had reason to vary our contract with them. We’ve had periods of being exceptionally busy and so we’ve had the ability to downsize our requirements, yet at other times when we’ve had more staff available, we’ve increased our requirements. We’ve also been able to take short breaks when needed, which has been incredibly helpful to us as a firm and this flexibility has been key to the success and longevity of the relationship.”

Carol goes on to explain how First4Lawyers manage to be both involved and ‘hands-off’, “It’s a unique combination. They’re involved in so much as they understand what we’re looking for, what types of clients we’d like to be reaching and what cases we can service best with our expertise. They stay in regular contact providing us with accurate data, which all relieves a considerable administrative burden from our side. Simultaneously, they’re also hands-off in that they don’t exert pressure to take on cases which we know we can’t run, we’re left to get on with the business of practising law and winning our client’s cases which is of course, our ultimate aim.”

As with so many other types of businesses, law firms can find it difficult to plan ahead in terms of budget and staffing for levels of projected work. Carol says First4Lawyers help to smooth this process out for them, “In terms of the value added, they provide us with a regular stream of work, which allows us to plan and budget accordingly.”

Having spent so long in this harmonious relationship, what advice would Carol offer to new firms looking to join the First4Lawyers panel? “Speak to existing panel firms, First4Lawyers offer and actually encourage this. If you’re not sure if this is the right place for you, or if it’s your first experience with a referrer, speak to those who have been doing it for some time, it’s invaluable.”

And for those firms who do decide to join the panel, what best practice tips can Carol offer about converting leads? “Firstly, take full details from the client. This may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how often this doesn’t happen if your call handlers aren’t properly trained and equipped. It’s vitally important if you want to convert that lead that you set off on the right foot. Calling back to clarify key details doesn’t inspire confidence! Secondly, ensure that the case is within the limitation date and that you have enough time to properly investigate the claim.  Finally, be professional but be sympathetic. Professionalism inspires confidence, but don’t let it come at the cost of also being sympathetic. Clients are sometimes coming to us at one of the lowest points in their lives. They often feel vulnerable and let down. Don’t be afraid to show them that you care.”


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