Horwich Farrelly at 50: Vaishali Mistry shares her #HFhighlight for National Apprenticeship Week
One of Horwich Farrelly’s first ever legal apprentices, Vaishali Mistry, talks about her progression to becoming a Litigation Executive as we celebrate both National Apprenticeship Week and the firm’s golden jubilee.
Vaishali Mistry joined the firm in 2014 as one of Horwich Farrelly’s first Legal Apprentices
When did you start working at Horwich Farrelly?
I joined the firm in September 2014 as a Legal Apprentice.
After completing my A-levels I had an offer to study Law and Criminology at Sheffield Hallam University. I’d wanted to work in law for as long as I can remember, however, I knew people who had done a law degree but then found it difficult getting anywhere, in particular being able to get a training contract.
As soon as I heard about Legal Apprenticeships I knew it was right for me, even though at the time they weren’t that well known. You’re learning on the job, getting paid and at the end of the two year programme you’ve a recognised legal qualification and – unlike friends who went to uni – no student debt.
And because you’re combining academic study with work you’re able to better understand the difference between theory and practice. One day you’d be at university learning about new areas of civil litigation, the next day you’d be able to apply on the job.
As well as assisting colleagues with their files, apprentices spend time in the post room, legal support and call handling teams. The opportunity is good as it really helps understand how the business operates and, by meeting new people, put names to faces.
What does a typical day look like for you at Horwich Farrelly?
After completing my apprenticeship in 2016 I moved into a Litigation Executive role within our Causation team. In a typical day I’ll be reviewing claims that our insurer clients have flagged up as being potentially fraudulent.
This could involve someone who has had a minor collision, say when being hit by someone reversing out of a supermarket parking space, who goes on to claim that they have suffered injuries such as whiplash or back pain, which are more typically associated with higher speed collisions.
Investigating this kind of fraud involves requesting medical records, speaking to the insurer’s policyholder to get their account of the collision and identifying inaccuracies in the claimant’s version of events.
When defendants unfairly find themselves in this situation it can understandably be quite stressful so there’s an element of providing emotional support particularly if cases go to trial. Some cases can take over a year to be resolved so during that time you can build up quite a rapport with our insurers’ customers.
I also work with our Intelligence Services team who will look for evidence on social media – for example you may have a claimant saying their alleged injuries mean they can’t go to the gym but in their public Facebook posts you’ll see them posting daily photos of their training.
Working to stamp out this kind of opportunistic fraud means we can help insurers keep their premiums low for honest policyholders. As a young person currently learning to drive that’s to be welcomed!
How has your career progressed since joining the firm?
Since moving into my current role I’ve been able to take on more supervisory responsibility. I’m gaining more specialist skills and knowledge in how to investigate these types of claims, and am often the ‘go to’ person for colleagues looking for answers to more complex queries.
Throughout my time at Horwich Farrelly it’s been brilliant meeting so many Partners and Associates who have progressed to senior roles without following traditional routes. Looking ahead I’m keen to investigate further qualifications, and would relish the opportunity to study the Level 7 solicitor apprenticeship which I believe the firm is exploring.
What has been the biggest highlight of your time at Horwich Farrelly?
Throughout my time at the firm I’ve had constant support in laying the foundations for a long career in law. While we’re a big firm there is a real culture of recognition and encouragement for doing a great job, which in my case has been investigating suspected fraudulent claims.
I’ve worked hard to lay down the groundwork to allow me to pursue different options in my career, and I really do feel the best is yet to come!
Before joining the firm what was your most unusual job?
I’ve only had two previous jobs – both in retail. At 16 I worked at Foot Locker in Manchester city centre where I had to dress as a referee every day on the shop floor. During my time there I learnt the importance of customer service and, because I was having to deal with difficult shoppers, really came out of my shell.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and outside interests?
I’m a very sociable person so spending time with friends and family is important. I also love to travel – I recently spent time in India to visit family, and am keen to explore more places like Rajasthan and Goa.
What makes working at Horwich Farrelly different from other firms?
The culture is relaxed and at the same time professional. Some people might picture law firms as having a lot of older employees but the workforce is quite young generally. Thanks to that I’ve made a lots of friends here.
What advice would you give to others starting out in their career with the firm?
Work hard. Have fun. Be loyal and it will be rewarded.
To see #HFhighlights from other Horwich Farrelly colleagues please click here.
For details about apprenticeship opportunities visit our Current Vacancies.