We sat down with colleagues from our medical negligence team, partner Guy Forster and senior associate solicitor Gurpreet Lalli to find out more about their life at Irwin Mitchell.
We wanted to learn about their day-to-day roles, how they make a positive difference to their clients’ lives, and how Guy’s supported Gurpreet to progress in her career as they’ve grown together.
How long have you worked at Irwin Mitchell and what roles have you had here?
Gurpreet Lalli (GL): I joined as a newly qualified solicitor in 2015. I was promoted to an associate in 2020 and then to a senior associate in 2022. Irwin Mitchell’s brilliant at nurturing talent and encouraging progression.
Guy Forster (GF): I started as a trainee solicitor in 2002 and the business has really evolved since then. I’ve progressed through the ranks in the medical negligence team and now I’m a partner here. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without the mentoring and support I’ve received from my line managers over the years.
If you were describing your job to someone who didn’t know the legal industry, what would you say?
GL: The clients we act for have suffered an injury because of mistakes made by made by medical professionals. This could be a birth injury, a stroke, a brain injury, or a spinal injury for example.
GF: Whenever my kids ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I help people who’ve suffered an injury. For us, that could be a catastrophic injury when medical treatment’s gone wrong. It’s our role to build a relationship with our clients, to understand what their needs are and change their lives for the better.
How long have you been working together and how have you helped each other?
GL: I’ve worked with Guy since 2015 and we’ve built a really strong relationship. He’s an amazing solicitor and an even better line manager. Guy’s incredibly considerate and supportive, and he’s helped me progress in my career by always being approachable and happy to help whenever I’ve needed it. He’s harnessed my ambition and given me so many opportunities to reach my full potential. Thanks to Guy’s support, I’m extremely proud of where I am today. I’ve gained a good friend who’s great to work with and someone I really respect.
GF: I’ve been working with Gurps since she came to us as a newly qualified solicitor, and it’s been incredible to see her progression during that time. She’s become an absolutely fantastic lawyer. Arguably we spend more time together than with our own families, so it’s important that we’re able to work together and support one another. It’s not just a question of Gurps learning from me, I learn a lot from Gurps as well. She helps me to understand our clients’ needs from a different perspective, which is extremely valuable.
Guy, as a leader, how does it feel to see someone you’ve line managed progress in their career?
GF: I think when you see a colleague fulfilling their potential and really blossoming into a fantastic lawyer, there are few things in your career that give you the same kind of satisfaction. Gurps is empathetic with her clients and achieves great results. But more than that, she’s a great colleague who’s already mentoring the next generation of lawyers. Year after year, we introduce new people to the team, understand what they want from their careers, and really develop them. It makes me proud to see a great team coming together and by looking after our colleagues, we’ll get better and better at serving our clients’ needs.
How important is it that you build good relationships with your clients?
GL: It’s so important to build a strong and trusting relationship with clients from the beginning because we can work on their cases for several years. You become their confidant and friend. Our clients often stay in touch after their case settles and it’s great to hear their progress.
GF: In the initial meetings we have with clients, it’s so important to build a rapport with them and take the time to understand their situation. Once we reach a settlement, which can take a few years, our clients stay in touch to tell us about their milestones, whether that’s going to university, passing their driving test, or moving into a fully adapted home.
Speaking of relationships, how important is it that your team work together to deliver great results for your clients?
GL: It’s so important to have great relationships within our team. Your colleagues essentially become your second family, so it’s vital that you respect each other and build morale to support each other through the day. I work with an amazing team who I’ve built wonderful friendships with. We have a very open and collaborative work environment, which I really value.
GF: We couldn’t do the work we do for our clients if we couldn’t come together as a team to meet their needs. Our team members are all individuals who bring their authentic selves to work, but collectively, we’re even stronger. Our clients have such complex needs that we need to work through their cases together and we simply couldn’t do that if we didn’t get along. It feels like a family environment here and we go through life’s ups and downs together. We also understand that mistakes happen, and we learn from them together.
How does it feel to be able to support your clients?
GL: When clients first instruct us to take on their case, their lives have been turned upside down. They, and their families often feel vulnerable and in need of guidance and support. Knowing that we can work together to change someone’s life for the better, helping them look ahead to a brighter, more independent future, is a great feeling.
GF: Nothing can make up for the injuries our clients have suffered but knowing that we’ve secured their future financially and with the care, support and therapies they need, is so rewarding for us. Our clients expect us to be legal experts and we are, but what they really value is our caring approach, and that ethos shines through here. Seeing clients overcome difficulties and challenges is incredibly powerful and puts your own life into perspective.
Do you have an example of a case you’ve worked on together that stands out in your memory?
GL: Working with Guy on lots of cases is a great learning experience. One of our most successful cases was acting for a young woman who sadly suffered a stroke just after she got married. She wasn’t much older than me and it was brilliant to know that we worked together on a case that changed her life. It was a real testament to our team working ethic.
GF: Because it was such a complex case, it was important that we navigated the issues and worked together seamlessly to meet the client’s needs, which resulted in her getting a life-changing settlement.
We’re committed to being a responsible business and we're passionate about being inclusive and diverse. Is that something that's important to you?
GL: I’m from an ethnic minority and diversity and inclusion is really important to me. As a business, it’s vital that we’re diverse and inclusive so we reflect and represent our clients. I act for clients who have disabilities, and whether they're visible or hidden, it's important that you create an environment where they feel comfortable. The culture’s extremely inclusive here and diversity and inclusion are embedded in everything we do. For example, I’m a member of one of our diversity groups, IM Respect, which celebrates and supports our colleagues’ different ethnicities, cultures, and faiths.
GF: If we look at life through one lens, then we’re not going to meet the needs of our clients. It’s important that our colleagues come from different backgrounds to reflect the variety of clients we act for and bring broader perspectives to the team.
How important is it to allow your team to have a positive work-life balance?
GF: It’s essential that our colleagues have time away from work to recharge their batteries. There’s no way we could do the job we do if we didn’t take time out for ourselves, and by looking after ourselves first, we can really look after our clients. Our flexible-by-choice policy has helped us to achieve a positive work-life balance. I have three young daughters, and nothing makes me happier than spending time with them. I also love getting outside and running – it’s a great way to unwind, process the day and feel better about yourself.
Have you experienced anything outside of work that’s been challenging?
GL: During my time here, my mum hasn’t been well. Irwin Mitchell has been an amazing support. Guy’s really helped me through these challenging times. He’s supported me and my clients, so their cases could progress, and I could be there for my mum. I can’t thank him enough.
GF: Who hasn’t had challenges in the last 20 years, including family bereavements and illness within close family. But some of the first people I went to for support, both personally and professionally, were those at Irwin Mitchell. I’m really lucky to have great peer support and when I’ve experienced challenges in my life, my team’s rallied round to make sure I can deal with them.
Read Guy and Gurpreet’s professional profiles.
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