Two litigation specialists from Warrington legal firm FDR Law have had their expertise recognised by national professional bodies for clinical negligence and will disputes.
Brian Owens, who is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Legal Executives, is an expert in medical negligence cases and has been appointed to the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) panel of Accredited Clinical Negligence Specialists.
Associate solicitor Jennifer McGuinness joins an elite body of lawyers who qualify for full membership of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS).
She spent three years studying in London, at the same time as working full time for FDR Law in Warrington, to gain the necessary extra qualification. Full ACTAPS membership is a visible sign that clients can have complete confidence their case is being handled by an expert in will and trust disputes.
Much of her study was carried out at evenings and weekends, and Jennifer remembers the challenge of combining it with a heavy workload. She recalls: “Many of the sessions started in London in the early evening so I would run from our Palmyra Square office to Bank Quay station to get a train about 3.30pm and return to Warrington the same night after 11pm, and then be back in work again the following day. I was heavily pregnant for the final session and received my qualification just after my son was born!”
The demand for her specialist professional services is increasing year on year as modern family structures become more fluid, she says.
“More than 40% of the population do not have a will which is causing significant problems, particularly for cohabiting couples. When people die ‘intestate’ without a will, UK law provides a set formula for distributing their estate which includes a spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings and parents but excludes partners outside marriage or civil partnership.
“However as more and more people enter long term cohabiting relationships, this leaves many out in the cold when their loved one dies. It results in situations which are plainly not fair and involves people having to resort to legal action to obtain anything from the estate.
“Where people don’t bother to get formally divorced after separating, their ex still has a claim on their estate and cohabiting couples, who may even have children together, end up with nothing. It’s my job to help people obtain a fair settlement.”
Head of Litigation at FDR Law, Stephen Lawson, who is a leading member of both APIL and ACTAPS, praised the dedication and achievement of his staff. “Both Jennifer and Brian have worked tremendously hard and deserve to have their expertise publicly recognised,” he said.