We find out why our Medical Negligence Associate Kim Huggins joined the profession, her biggest challenges, and what really makes her tick.
Having spent 11 years previously working as a paralegal I qualified as a solicitor in 2011. I joined Pinney Talfourd just over 4 years ago, specialising in Medical Negligence.
Being a solicitor is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it’s not an easy profession to get into, and is fiercely competitive, so gaining experience of the legal industry beforehand can really help.
So, when I finished my degree, I worked in central government, and then from there I secured a job as a full-time paralegal for a firm in Chelmsford to gain the experience I needed. I dealt predominately with personal injury claims, working my way up to senior paralegal and negotiator. Then I decided to study for my exams whilst working full time to qualify and get to where I am today.
My specialism came from personal experience – a hospital GP misdiagnosed my own mum’s condition. She spent quite a lot of time being poorly but without knowing why, and it wasn’t until her final days that we actually found out what was wrong with her, by which time it was too late. Something could have been done to save her if it was caught early enough.
That feeling of utter helplessness and unnecessary loss is something that I don’t want other people to have to feel.
I don’t think anybody can really understand the intricacies and length of time which a case can actually take; it’s not because we as solicitors are going slowly, but because there are so many different factors to consider, and processes to go through.
The entire process is extremely involved, and unfortunately, things can’t just be dealt with overnight. In addition to this, if they were to be dealt with exceptionally quickly, then you do run the risk of something being missed.
I literally hit the ground running – I tend to start work at 7:30 am, and it’s straight on trying to prioritise what needs to be done that day and finishing off any projects from the day before. As I work adjusted hours, some things do come in when I’m not here.
I tend to deal with the entire spectrum of cases; from taking client instructions and statement drafting, to seeing clients, and to going to court, to negotiating the various aspects of different cases with defendants and their solicitors.
I am also constantly organising and arranging home visits and various appointments for external contacts, such as occupational therapists that can assist with home adaptations.
My day-to-day role varies massively, but it’s also very document-heavy – I could spend an entire day, if not longer, looking at just one client’s set of medical records. It’s very important that everything is looked at properly and nothing is missed.
Seeing my clients set up for the future. I think that’s really ‘it’. Once a case is settled and clients have received the compensation they deserve, and perhaps an apology (though that’s never guaranteed), a lot of solicitors will then cut ties and close the case. I like to make sure that there’s a plan in place long-term, so I can part ways with my clients knowing that they’re going to be okay.
Seeing people go through things that they needn’t have gone through in the first place; witnessing clients having to deal with the loss of loved ones, and how that massively impacts their family. It also brings it home for me all over again from a personal perspective.
I also find dealing with children’s cases extremely difficult. I have witnessed cases relating to needless brain injured babies at birth – that shouldn’t be happening in this day and age, but, tragically, it still does. Families that are welcoming their bundle of joy are then faced with massive unexpected challenges for the rest of their lives, for them and their new-born.
It’s a difficult concept to grasp – being a parent myself, you don’t know what to expect anyway when having your first child, let alone having something extra thrown into the mix that shouldn’t have been.
I think it’s upsetting to have to see a child, and the family of that child, have to go through something so horrific, but also it’s quite humbling to see how these families rally around each other and deal with it head on.
I am currently dealing with a hip-related matter, and the woman is truly out of this world – she is amazing. She is an elderly lady but was continuing to work in a teaching capacity up until recently.
She underwent a standard hip replacement procedure, which went wrong. They went to fix it – that one went wrong too, and it’s been had a cacophony of disasters from then on. She’s had to deal with infections, joint loosening, hip migration, leg shortening, and it’s still ongoing today.
Her resilience throughout this time has been incredible – she won’t let this issue beat her, and I think that for me, she is an ideal person – not just a client, but a role model to all.
Make sure it’s 110% what you want to do. Attempt to get experience in a range of different firms and environments if possible – from in-house and local councils, to high-street branches and city firms – everyone operates differently, and demands are very diverse depending on where you go.
You’ve just got to commit and invest yourself and your time into it if you want to do a worthy job for your clients.
I tend to do extreme things when I’m not at work! I have completed various different events for charity; I participated in the Winchester Triathlon, which was a challenge in itself – I didn’t realise that Winchester was so hilly!
My son and I also recently completed a 22-mile swim, which is the equivalent of swimming from Dover to Calais. We swam in support of the firm’s charity of the year, MNDA, and Bloodwise, a blood cancer charity, which is extremely close to my heart as this is the condition that I lost my mum to, as well as one of my best friends.
When I’m not relaxing with a book, or doing the odd abseil, I tend to spend a lot of my time running my son around – he swims for Chelmsford City Swimming Club, so I dash him here, there and everywhere for various competitions and the dreaded 5.30 am training sessions.
To find out more about Kim and contact her, please visit her staff profile page.