To help you get to know the real Andrew Gray, we asked him some questions over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake…
Why did you establish Truth Legal?
“Because I wanted to give my clients a more personal, caring and rapid service than I was previously able to. I knew that I could offer clients more choice in how their claim was run and give them the opportunity to be involved in all the main steps of the claim. I have been assaulted myself (click here to read Andrew’s story) and I wanted to offer representation to people who need a specialist assault and accident solicitor but struggle to find one.
What few personal injury clients know is that it is common practice for their solicitor or claims handler to have 200 clients at any one time, so each client simply cannot receive the individual service they deserve. I know of a large Yorkshire firm (not one I have ever worked for) whose file handlers, with the help of an assistant, manage 280 cases at a time. 280! I don’t agree with that approach and there’s no reason why their clients should accept it either.
My view is that the more time I have to get to know my clients, to appreciate the full impact of the accident or employment dispute, the better I can represent them and the more compensation I will be able to obtain on their behalf. In short, I want to give my clients the sort of service I would want to receive.
By keeping our overheads low at Truth Legal, we don’t need to handle 200 cases at the same time. Our business model doesn’t require us to pull in hundreds of cases per year, and that means we will be able to give a very personal service to each and every client.”
What do you think of the bad press that personal injury law has had over the last few years?
“Not all of it is deserved, but a lot of it is. I want to change the way personal injury law is regarded. Helping people through a tough time in their life is a good thing to do, but all too often personal injury solicitors are regarded as ambulance-chasers. That could be down to the ‘no win, no fee’ adverts that dominate daytime television, and the unsolicited text messages people receive from unscrupulous claims management companies. You won’t see us doing any of that.”
Are you mad to give your clients your mobile number?
“No: I would be mad not to! All of our lawyers give out their mobile numbers to our clients. I do prefer to take calls during office hours, but if there is an emergency, or if my clients are desperate to talk me, I will discuss their case with them outside of office hours, either at the weekend or in the evening. We are providing a service for busy people, some of whom work shifts, and I know how difficult it can be to make personal calls during office hours. We provide the type of customer service to our clients that I would like to receive myself, which includes working out of hours.”
Why did you become a solicitor?
“This is an easy one: I’ve always wanted to – and it is a cliché – ‘make a difference’, to make sure that I leave the world in better shape than I found it. Injustice angers me, so I channel my energy into righting wrongs. I am logical and thorough. I stand my ground and will defend my position. And I like people. As a workplace solicitor I see the best in people, some of them coping with the toughest time of their lives. I find it humbling to see the inner strength people have.”
What is your background before you founded Truth Legal?
“I trained at a large firm in Manchester. My first day was in their personal injury department, and I realised quickly that it was the area of work I wanted to pursue. After two mandatory years, I was offered a permanent role with the firm, but my wife and I wanted to return to North Yorkshire where we had first met.
We moved to Harrogate, and I worked for a large commercial firm in Leeds representing some pub companies. What this role taught me was the need for speed: commercial clients demand that their solicitors are able to act at an instant. Shouldn’t individuals enjoy the same level of service?
I was then asked out-of-the-blue to an interview with the head of personal injury at the largest personal injury firm in the country. The firm represented mainly trade unions. I worked there for 3½ years, during which time I developed an expertise in claims of assaults and accidents at work. I was often asked by union clients to give lectures on my specialist subjects, in particular about violence at work. I was elected as the union rep for the lawyers and the admin staff.
I have also founded an NGO and worked as a Classroom Assistant in Salford.”
Where did you go to School and University?
“The University of Manchester for my BA, lasting three years, and then the College of Law in York for a further two years. School was Bolton School Boys’ Division. All of those places taught me not to judge people – for good or ill – by their schooling!”
Do personal injury clients lie?
“A better question would be: do people lie? And the answer is ‘yes’. But in my experience, personal injury clients rarely lie, because there is a good chance that they will be caught out.”
What advice would you give to aspiring solicitors?
“Get experience of life outside of law because it will add depth to your practice. I worked for a year as a classroom assistant in an inner-city comprehensive, which has been invaluable experience for my practice. Ask yourself, truthfully, what motivates you. If you want to help individuals, rather than corporations, accept that you will never drive a Ferrari, but you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror.”
Outside of law, what makes you tick?
“My two young kids; enjoying glorious Harrogate; playing football; watching Blackburn Rovers; getting involved in local life in Harrogate; Quakerism; politics; philosophy; cycling. And interview questions.”
What have been the highlights of your life?
“Getting married and the birth of my children have to be at the top. Blackburn Rovers pipping Manchester United to the Premiership in 1995 comes a close second. Completing the London Marathon 2011 in fancy dress, to raise money for the British Heart Foundation, was fabulous. I was running in memory of one of my best friends, who died of heart failure aged just 29. Scoring any goal, whatever the standard of football, has provided not as many highs as I would have wanted.”