James is a Partner and Head of the Dispute Resolution team and primarily handles commercial…View Profile View all
What’s the biggest development you’ve seen in the legal world during your career?
IT and the effect it has had on legal practice; when I started in the law we said, “it’s in the post”, used carbon paper and tippex and all research was done using books. Now the whole legal world and legal knowledge is on line and there at the click of a mouse. A former colleague said that a visitor to a solicitor’s office in 1930 and 1970 would have noticed little difference between them. We’re a world away from 1980 when I started articles.
What law would you like to see changed?
Any law that stops my client winning their case! Seriously, any law or rule that restricts access to justice, whether it be changes to legal aid or the court fees that are charged to start proceedings. I would reverse the removal of legal aid for accident claims. When legal aid was available proper claims with good chances of success were supported and at the end of the case the legal aid fund was repaid what had been, in effect, a loan to the claimant. Its removal led to the ‘No Win No Fee’ revolution, ambulance chasing claims management companies and their credit hire spin offs.
What is the most exciting work you’ve ever done?
I still find winning, or even settling on good terms exciting. Several years ago I was involved in a dawn raid on farm based dairy under a search and seizure order (then called an Anton Pillar Order) which involved seizing over 10,000 milk bottles belonging to other dairies.
Who in the legal world do you most admire?
My secretary Helen Priestley, who has worked (put up) with me for 20 years deserves my admiration for her endurance. Otherwise Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General, for his respect for the rule of law and his independence of mind when in that role.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?
Have a sense of humour; you’ll need it in today’s legal world.