Sandeep Gill, Senior Associate in our Serious Injury team, discusses how he and other members of the team support their clients beyond offering legal advice.
When I think back on the reasons why I wanted to practice law as a teenager the explanation was simple. I wanted to help people. My parents separated when I was young and one of my most vivid memories growing up as a child was accompanying my mum on a visit to her family solicitor.
The solicitor was sat behind a large mahogany desk that was covered with paper files in a smoky room. You could barely see him behind all the paperwork. Yet he had a calming and authoritative presence. I recall being in awe, thinking how this solicitor was helping my mum and I wanted to do the same when I was older. Fast forward several decades and whilst my desk is paper-light I find myself helping people and their families when they or their loved ones have been involved in a serious road traffic collision or other life changing event. I can sense the same level of expectation and hope aimed in my direction when I meet a client for the first time.
And whilst our primary focus is to offer legal advice and assist our clients through the litigation process, through our connections with charities such as Brake we go much further. Matters are looked at much more holistically, what more can we do to help our clients?
For instance, in July this year members of the Hugh James Serious Injury Team completed the Welsh 3 Peaks challenge. I was joined by Ellis Meade, Carlos Land and Ben Bowen as we tackled all three peaks (Snowdon, Cader Idris and Pen y Fan) alongside the Strickland family and friends, as well as members of the Metropolitan Police. My colleagues, Polly Herbert and Ffione Davies also joined at Snowdon and Pen Y Fan respectively.
We choose to do so in order to support our client, the Strickland family, to raise money for 3 charities, including Brake, in memory of the late Sophie Strickland who tragically lost her life at the age of 31 in a road traffic collision.
I am pleased to announce that with the Strickland family we raised over £10,000, beating the target set by the family of £4,000.
The day was an emotional one and it took its toll, we felt each and every one of the 50,000 plus steps. Why did we do it? Clearly there was the sense of a challenge, something to tick off the bucket list. But, in truth I am taken back to that meeting with the family solicitor during my youth. It’s about offering support and paying our respects. We know that no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one.
As mentioned above, we were also joined by two members of the Metropolitan Police that supported the family through the criminal court process and beyond.
I would like to leave you with the comments of one of the officers, PC Edward Raymond:
“At the top of each peak, the [Strickland] brothers left a painted stone, in memory of their sister. The stones had been lovingly painted by (their father) Fred. I got chatting to Fred on the way up the last peak and I learnt a lot more about him than I had originally known. It was an eye opener.
He expressed his sincere gratitude in the help that we had given him and his family. He assured me that I would never be forgotten, and I had no reason to disbelieve him. My heart went out to him and his family.
We walked off the mountain a short while later and returned to the car park to rounds of heart felt applause from family and friends, pats on the back and proper meaningful handshakes. We had done it. I had done it. I had gone completely out of my comfort zone, but it had felt right.
We left the car park a short while later but, as we were about to leave, Fred waved me down. I got out of the car, and he presented me with two painted stones.
You might think, ‘oh, two painted stones’ and move on, but no, I understood their meaning, and the intended sentiment. I said thank you and went to sit in the car. As I explained the sentiment behind them to (my colleague) Dan and my wife, I found myself crying. The gifts had broken me. I understood what they meant and promised to keep them safe. Intrinsically a small gift, but emotionally, a powerful gift.”
The Serious Injury Team at Hugh James specialises in supporting clients and their families after catastrophic injuries stemming from road traffic collisions and accidents at work. We support charities such as Brake.