Is the future of a personal injury attorney to be as a manager of paralegals (running task-based work) as PI becomes more output- and volume-focused? What impact does this have on attracting future talent into the claims industry?

I think simply the answer to this question is no. Proper managers are far better placed to manage paralegals carrying out portal work. Indeed, the problems faced by such managers are ones more likely to require HR training and management-required people skills. Although many attorneys have these skills, their training is in litigation and case resolution, and dealing with these more mundane problems means that those skills can go to waste.

It is a common mistake of practices to move their best fee-earners into managerial positions and, in the process, lose their best fee-earners to the rigors and time constraints of managing. Certainly a much better use of junior attorneys’ time is to have them deal with the inevitable dropout of cases, where they can file suit to ensure speedy settlements, with maximum damages for the client and maximum costs and fees for the firm.

For more senior attorneys, they should deal with those cases which are higher in value and require unlimited jurisdictional filings. These cases are simply not appropriate for task-based work, and attorneys will still be required to deal with those cases.

Of course, any niche practices will need to retain a team of attorneys dealing with high value and more-complicated cases, although it cannot be missed that the number of such cases is very much in the minority. I therefore expect that such jobs will fall only to the most skilled attorneys.

I still believe that future talent will find its way to the industry, it may be that personal Injury is no longer the favored sector, but an associate contract is still difficult to obtain, and good quality attorneys will take what they can. I have seen many an aspiring commercial attorney change their mind partway through their training, and they are now top quality PI litigators.

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