In our ‘TSR Legal meets’ interviews, we speak to professionals working in different areas of the legal sector, to draw down on their experience and insight. Ella Watts (TSR Legal) meets Alistair Worth, Managing Director of Mooneerams Solicitors.
Q: What has been your 2023 highlight to date?
A: If I’m being honest, so far, it feels as though the whole of 2023 has been a highlight for Mooneerams. We’ve worked extremely hard on our business over the past five years.
Everything we’ve done has been for a reason; we’ve become fully digitalised, we’ve invested heavily in marketing the firm, we’ve been adept at adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the personal injury claims sector, and we’ve put a lot of time, thought and effort into recruiting the right people to fit in with the Mooneerams way of doing things.
Now, our efforts are bearing fruit. The firm is thriving. The best part is that we have a super team at Mooneerams. I may be Managing Director, but I’m just one of the team and happy to be so.
Q: How does your firm stand out from the crowd?
A: Mooneerams is 21 years old this year, and ever since our first office opened in Cardiff in 2002, we’ve been a purely claimant personal injury solicitors firm. Moreover, it was, and to the best of our knowledge, still is, the only purely claimant personal injury firm in Wales. We act for the innocently injured people of Wales, not for insurance companies or employers in defending claims.
When clients come to us, they know their accident claims will be handled by a niche firm of expert personal injury solicitors who will look to get the best result possible for them.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working at Mooneerams?
A: Going to work doesn’t feel like going to work in the conventional sense of the phrase. I have always had a passion for helping ordinary people get proper access to justice; at Mooneerams, we endeavour to achieve that for all our clients. I’m doing work that I love doing.
Our firm’s whole raison d’etre is based on helping the people of Cardiff, South Wales and beyond to have a wrong put right and get the compensation they deserve. Who wouldn’t love doing that for a living?
I work with an exceptionally talented group of people from whom I learn something new daily. Increasingly our new trainee solicitor and paralegal recruits are graduates from one of the many excellent universities that we have here in South Wales. Watching them work closely as a team, developing skills and growing in confidence and competence, makes me very happy.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring young lawyers?
A: More than ever, the law is a challenging and competitive field, so it’s essential to develop a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn from others and, dare I say it, to be humble, not arrogant. The former is endearing; the latter most certainly is not.
Seek opportunities to gain practical experience, such as work experience or pro bono work, to build skills and knowledge. Stay updated with changes in the legal profession, including new legislation and case law.
I would advise aspiring young lawyers to think niche. Become an expert in an area of law that interests you and find out as much you can about that field of law.
In an increasingly digital age, become tech savvy. Embrace new technology such as AI, and instead of fearing it, see how it can help you become a better lawyer.
Write to local law firms and see if they would like you to write a blog for them. Develop writing skills as more and more law firms expect their lawyers to produce legal articles for the organisations website.
Whilst we are on the subject of writing, when you are applying for a placement, work experience or a job in the profession, make sure you write a good CV and learn how to write compelling covering emails or letters. Most importantly, make sure whatever you write is free from spelling and grammatical errors. This is your first chance to make a good impression. You fall at the first hurdle if your CV or covering email displays poor writing skills. I know – I see an awful lot of poorly written applications from would-be lawyers.
Q: What are you doing to create an inclusive workplace?
A: This is an interesting question. I’ve always thought of us as a fully inclusive firm. However, a few years ago, we were asked if we would like to enrol on a programme run by Chwarae Teg. This charitable organisation works to ensure that women in Wales can enter the workplace, develop their skills and build fulfilling careers.
We decided to enrol on the course and are so glad we did. Everyone in the company became involved in the seminars and exercises throughout the course. Each member of our team was able to feedback to the organisers anonymously.
We discovered areas for collective and individual improvement. The course challenged us to accept our failings and work to improve where necessary. We regularly engaged as a team, allowing everyone to speak without fear or favour. We reviewed, amended, and added to our company policies. As a result of our efforts, we received the Fair Play Employer Award from Chwarae Teg at the end of a challenging programme.
We listened, took on board, and put into practice what we had learned.
At Mooneerams we fervently believe the legal profession should be open to all. How many young people from Cardiff and the Valleys would love to study for and pursue a career in the law, but see barriers, real or assumed, all along the way? One hurdle in particular can seem insurmountable. The fact that they come from a working class background; that ‘people like them’ can’t become lawyers.
At Mooneerams we actively encourage young people from all backgrounds to believe they can make a career in law, irrespective of where they are from or the school they went to.
Every member of the Mooneerams team, including the Directors, is a product of state comprehensive education, from schools such as Aberdare High, Pencoed Comprehensive, Pontypridd High, Cowbridge Comprehensive, Bryncelynnog Comprehensive in Beddau, St Cyres School Penarth, Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen, and Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni.
I mention those schools by name because it’s important to make it real. It’s not just a pipe dream.
Our message to young people all over South Wales is this: people who have gone through these schools are now lawyers or trainee lawyers and you can be too.
Q: What can we expect to see from Mooneerams for the remainder of 2023?
A: In answering this question, the old saying, ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’, first sprang to mind. However, simply maintaining the status quo would be complacent and dangerous.
Over the many years I’ve been practising in personal injury law, the next challenge to the survival of the personal injury and clinical negligence areas of law has never seemed too far away, waiting to challenge us yet again. It is said that personal injury solicitors are a resilient bunch, and it appears that we must soon prove that to be the case again. In October this year, fixed costs will be extended to all personal injury claims worth up to £100,000 in damages.
We are already planning the way forward in the light of yet more rules designed to make us work harder for less, but that’s how it has been for some time.
As always, we will hone our skills and meet the challenge head-on. Whatever happens, the togetherness and the talent we have at Mooneerams will ensure we not only survive but thrive.
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