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Brave new world - APIL Conference 2012

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Attending conferences and training courses is a fundamental part of my job, but it does involve time away from the office and home, and I often have to weigh up the pros and cons of attending such events. Having just come back from attending the APIL conference at Celtic Manor last week, I’m pleased to say it was an excellent event and very worth attending – not least because I came home with an orgasmatron (only one) and pair of handcuffs!

On a more serious note, the very public flogging of PI lawyers has played out in the media over the last year, and the hype surrounding the LASPO bill, which somewhat detracts from the devastating impact it will have on legal services and access to justice for everyday people, has reached an all time high, as the bill progresses through it’s final stages.

With that backdrop to the conference, I wasn’t hopeful that it would be a positive event and even before I arrived I was wondering how beneficial it would be, and whether I would regret being away from the office for half of the week, not even thinking about issues at home such as whether my Husband would remember to clean the children’s teeth and feed the dogs.  But I have to say I am glad I went.  It was well worth the effort and time away, as it was a well constructed and well delivered conference.  And I hope my children haven’t suffered too much in the way of dental decay during my absence.

It was of course disappointing that two key speakers were unable to attend the conference. I was really looking forward to listening to their addresses.  Lord Justice Jackson was absent due to very serious health issues, which we hope he quickly overcomes. Mr Djanogly MP, as far as I could tell, for no good reason. Who knows  - only Mr Djanogly can answer that question.

Despite those noted absences, the calibre of speakers was excellent and they all spoke a lot of common sense. They were interesting to hear, and the debate around the coffee stands and exhibitors over the course of the two days, was lively and thought provoking. As always, it provided an excellent networking event, but more than that, it brought together like minded individuals, with like minded values and aims. To represent injured people as best we can, using our expertise and skills as specialised Personal Injury lawyers.

On a lighter note, the exhibitors were excellent as always, and the stand giving out head massagers (orgasmatrons) and hand cuffs caused quite a stir! The packed programme ended with a dinner dance, with excellent food as you would expect at Celtic Manor. The evenings entertainment in the form of a youngish male band, The Burgandy’s – were pretty good. The lead singer reminded me of someone from McFly, in their early days (not that I’m much of a fan). And it’s always good to see lawyers dance. We are not known for our rhythm, and I do wonder when I’m at these events, is it the only occasion lawyers get to dance, safe amongst their own kind? Highly entertaining. We should stick to doing what we do best, getting compensation for injured individuals.

And finally, a thank you to David Bott, who has worked tirelessly over the past year as President of APIL and a welcome to Karl Tonks who fills his shoes, and whose inaugural address as President was inspiring to say the least. Bring on the next 12 months!

By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Kate Sweeney