Over the following weeks we will be sharing a series of question and answer articles about our day-to-day lives in a Court of Protection team. This week, I interviewed Alexander Wright who is a senior associate – solicitor in the Court of Protection team.
Alexander qualified in 2013 and joined the Court of Protection team at Boyes Turner in 2016. He specialises in working with individuals who have suffered a severe brain injury as a result of personal injury or medical negligence. Most of his work involves managing large compensation awards, drafting litigation support statements and financial reviews. He takes a particular interest in budget forecasting and investment reviews with Independent Financial Advisors and Fund Managers. He has recently completed the purchase and adaptation of a property for a client who suffered from medical negligence at birth.
Why did you decide to specialise in Court of Protection work?
This was always the area that stood out to me when I started out and I knew from an early stage in my career that this was what I wanted to do. In this work you are helping some of the most vulnerable people in society with such a wide range of issues. Most of my work relates to managing compensation awards for people who aren’t able to manage their own affairs. They will usually have employees to care for them, a property to adapt to their needs and maintain, ongoing equipment and therapy needs and a large sum to invest. Managing that for someone who cannot do it for themselves is a real privilege.
Can you give an example of a recent tough day in the office?
A respite centre recently put my client in the wrong taxi so we had to find her. This happened twice in the same day, which was unbelievable. Meanwhile her mother had locked herself out of her house and didn’t have reception or help to find a locksmith and needed to get to a meeting with social services. I had to track down her daughter, who was safe, arrange a taxi to get her to the meeting with social services, and arrange a locksmith to meet her and her mum at their home when they returned from their meeting. That was just one case I was dealing with on that day.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Seeing a family move into a property designed for their child’s needs is one of the most rewarding things. A close second is receiving reports that a piece of equipment that we have purchased has improved a child’s quality of life. Most of my clients will not understand my involvement or even be aware of it, but the knowledge that as part of my work a person’s life has improved is real triumph for me. Just recently I found a house for a client that we can adapt for her needs. The family can finally move out of a rental property and get the hoist and bathing equipment that they have wanted for their daughter for a long time. It was really moving.
You have recently completed a property adaptation for one of your clients. What are the main challenges when working on these projects?
Frequently the most challenging task is actually finding a property to adapt. As soon as the builder starts you can be pretty sure that something will come up, whether it is asbestos under the floor boards, a beam that isn’t adequately installed to support the ceiling or arguments with the local authority about the Disabled Facilities Grant. Mostly I find that projects go smoothly as long as everyone is agreed on the budget, we have the right insurance in place, a properly drafted Works Contract and we get the right surveys before we start work. One of my colleagues had an arson attack at a property she was adapting for her client. I’m pleased to say I haven’t had that before!
You manage some large compensation awards. What does that involve?
In our cases these awards are meant to last for the lifetime of the injured person. They need to provide for the client’s care, their home, their equipment, therapy, living costs and transport. One of the areas of my work that I particularly enjoy is analysing current and anticipated expenditure, forecasting budgets and seeking and comparing financial advice on how best to provide for my client’s needs. You have to think about the long-term ambitions and needs of the client, say the next 30-50 years, as well as what the plans are for the next 1-5 years. Decisions made now can have big long term consequences so it’s important work.