Chris Smith was interviewed for the June edition of the Leeds Law Society’s Leeds and Yorkshire Lawyer magazine. He discusses trends in personal injury law, his own practice and technological developments in the industry.
The full magazine is available to read here.
Congratulations on your recent promotion to partner—what do you put your success as a solicitor down to?
I have been very fortunate to work with some exceptionally talented people, be that counsel, solicitors or paralegals. Working with great people every day has pushed me to be a better lawyer.
Speaking of successes, you’ve recovered damages in excess of £70 million for your personal injury clients since joining Stewarts—how have you shaped and developed your practice to secure such favourable outcomes for this client group?
It’s a privilege to represent such inspirational clients. The client is always the starting point – each serious injury case is different and there is no one size fits all approach.
The aims of the clients often shape the case, whether that’s wanting to get back out on their bicycle or using an exoskeleton. Listening to what our clients want to achieve and working with them to reach their goals is what produces the results.
In terms of wider personal injury law practice, what are some of the trends that you’ve identified that you think your colleagues and peers need to be aware of?
Serious injury litigation is constantly evolving, whether that’s with new technology or advances in rehabilitation and medical treatment. The one thing all personal injury lawyers should be aware of right now is the care crisis and the impact of the rising cost of care on our clients.
How do you find practicing in Leeds and Yorkshire, and how would you sell the region to a lawyer or graduate considering moving to the region from, say, London?
Leeds is a fantastic place to work, even if it is on the wrong side of the Pennines! The region is undoubtedly a centre for excellence, with fantastic firms and chambers, providing London-level service and expertise to a regional, national and international client base.
Are there any modernisations or improvements that you think firms in the region need to implement to better serve clients, either in personal injury or other areas of law?
We have all learnt to embrace technology a little more since the start of the pandemic and we perhaps shouldn’t be as slow to adopt it in the future. The advent of virtual meetings, hearings and trials has made us all more adaptable and changed the way we operate.
As we move back to the in-person setting, a place will remain for technology with the continuation of hybrid trials and hearings.