Founded in 2000, the Manchester-based personal injury law firm Express Solicitors has been steadily defining itself as a leading PI firm that can compete with the likes of Irwin Mitchell, Fieldfisher and Leigh Day. Its founder and managing partner James Maxey is now strongly focused on the firm’s future and hiring the next generation of top PI lawyers to continue the firm’s work, taking on big brands like GlaxoSmithKline and Dairy Crest. The firm covers four key areas: medical negligence, road traffic accidents, accidents at work and public liability (from assault compensation to dog bites and horse-riding accidents).
The firm has maintained its impressive financial performance for a third year, with a 12.5% uptick in revenue to a record £36 million and plans to almost double this figure within the next five years. Caseloads are also reported to be above 22,000, while the firm’s headcount sits at around 500. Of course, you need to enjoy your tort law — no wonder you can obtain work experience at the firm from certain universities by winning the Tort Prize!
The consensus on Express’s training is that it is excellent, replete with “hands on supervision” and “assistance whenever you need it”. “The training received from the training team is of a really high level. Everything is explained fully and recorded on Teams to be referred to on the LMS which is really helpful. Quality feedback is given on my day-to-day tasks as a trainee which helps me improve my professional skills,” details one newbie. However, there were some grumbles about the genericness of parts of the formal training which “doesn’t really help when applying to specific and unique tasks”, whilst some demand more training on “technical areas of law”.
The work itself is said to be “challenging but rewarding” with some of the low claims cases being more monotonous grunt labour. Expect good progression though: “Since becoming a trainee I have been given the opportunity to work on more higher value cases, this has also coincided with my issued cases progressing to a level I’ve not worked on previously meaning I have been completing and learning new parts of the area of law on a regular basis.” Some also flag that “the work may seem repetitive at times with certain cases but that is the nature of the area as opposed to anything my firm can avoid”.
Express rookies don’t have too much of a toil though, with most getting away around 17:30. Insiders don’t feel there are expectations for them to stay longer than necessary, though PI work can understandably be stressful. That said, Express recruits are not strangers to some late nights: “I will stay late sometimes, especially if working from home, and will log-on on the occasional Saturday. However, I would never avoid plans in my personal life to work a weekend — this would only be if I have nothing else on. I am content with the amount I work and don’t believe it ‘takes over’ or prohibits me from enjoying my personal life.”
It helps that fellow trainees and partners are generally very supportive: “Nothing is ever too much trouble for anyone and they will always make time to give you a helping hand.” Others gush that the “fantastic” people are “one of the best things about working here” and are always “so lovely and encouraging”. “I could not ask any more of my peers. There is not one person off-limits to provide help, guidance, advice etc. I feel fully supported personally and professionally,” says another. On the whole, the same is true of the partners, though some argue it’s more “hit and miss”. The firm’s open-door policy helps trainees get comfortable with superiors who seem happy to lend an ear to newbies’ questions and concerns: “No amount of questions is too many and all my superiors are more than open to furthering my personal and professional development.”
Perks include birthday leave; free tea, coffee and fresh fruit; summer and Christmas parties; a social budget and Easter Eggs as well as commission on billing targets. The frequent firm sporting activities, however, are the top perk for many. “The firm also goes above and beyond to hire out a football pitch for us to play on once a week, this is a great opportunity to meet new people and socialise. When I first joined the firm, it was over lockdown so began to feel like I hadn’t really met any of my new colleagues and felt a little isolated, this quickly changed when I started playing football and got to meet some new faces who were working from home at the time, the lads I met through football are now some of my closest friends, which may not have been the case if my firm didn’t arrange for this,” recounts one footie-loving recruit. Netball is also said to be popular with the firm’s staff.
The head office receives mixed reviews with criticisms arguing it is “bland” and “a little dated”. However, the roof terrace is a popular place to enjoy lunch on a sunny day and some trainees enjoy letting off steam at the ping pong tables. What’s more, the firm announced at the start of this year its £4.4 million acquisition of new office space in Wythenshawe, Manchester, which can accommodate 1,000 staff, allowing it to double in size. A month later, Express said it will recruit aspiring barristers for the first time. Exciting times lie ahead for this ambitious firm.