Phill Bratt talks 2:2s, dyslexia and the impact of personal injury law

Meet Phill Bratt, partner in complex injury claims at Keoghs. Find out how Phill achieved partnership eight years after qualification, having graduated with a 2:2 and learning he was dyslexic later in life.
Phill is a white man with light brown hair. He is wearing a blue suit, light shirt and blue tie.

I hadn’t always dreamed of becoming a solicitor. At school, I was thinking about studying engineering. But after a family friend suggested that I would be a good lawyer, I decided to study law.

I found my law degree pretty hard. As a student, I quickly discovered the study of law had little to do with the practice. It was much more academic and historically focused, with long essays. I’m good at problem solving, but terrible at history and English.

I graduated with a 2:2. I wasn’t very well in my final year, I had a problem with my kidney. In hindsight, I should have deferred. All my final year exams were four hours of solid writing. With the two things combined I was at a bit of a disadvantage.

I originally wanted to be a barrister. So, I had applied for the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) because it was more practical-focused. I got in to the BVC at BPP London, on the condition that I got a 2.1. I called BPP explaining what had happened in my final year and thankfully they allowed me to do the course. I had a fantastic time and I completed the course with a couple of marks off Outstanding.

When I graduated in 2009, the recession meant entry-level roles were hard to come by. There were only 500 pupillages a year. Because I had a 2:2, I quickly realised I wouldn’t get past this hurdle. I simply couldn’t compete. But looking back, I’m not sure being a barrister was for me anyway.

I then heard about a government scheme called Graduate Challenge.
You would be matched with graduate jobs and the government would pay £100 each week to cover expenses.

After this, I got my first ever proper legal job. It was entry-level, personal injury work, and the pay was only £16,000. The first claim I processed was for £50 towards a man’s glasses. But I knew this was my way into the legal profession.

I first knew something was wrong when I began to apply for training contracts. They were still hard to come by, but luckily my firm opened up applications for internal candidates. I was unsuccessful the first time. The second time, I had to do time-pressured psychometric testing. They gave us a practice first, and we were given an A4 piece of paper covered information that we had five minutes to read and answer questions. When the five minutes was up, everyone had finished and had put their pens down. I hadn’t even finished reading.

I reached out to a dyslexia organisation, which diagnosed me as profoundly dyslexic. Now I know I read and write really slowly, but think really fast. I realised I had developed coping strategies as many people with dyslexia do. Looking back, if I had been given more time in my exams, or had been able to use a laptop, that would have massively improved my academic performance.

Now, I use my dyslexia to my advantage in professional settings. I’ve made a unique selling point out of being able to solve problems quickly, rather than reading and writing really well. Realising this has given me the confidence that I’m delivering a high-quality level of service to my clients.

Eight years after qualification as a solicitor, I made partner. I had a big chip on my shoulder after losing out on my training contract the second time. I felt behind my peers, and I was determined to succeed. I made the most of out of every opportunity and have been ranked in the Legal 500 for four years running.

Personal injury law is incredibly varied: every case I deal with is different. 10 people might have the same injury, but because those people have different lives, the effect is very different.
The personal injury cases I deal with are extraordinarily complex. I work with high-end catastrophic injuries, such as amputations or spinal and brain injuries. The range of outcomes is almost infinite. Because of this, I spend 90% of my time fact-finding and investigating, rather than doing technical legal work.

I want to give away all my knowledge by the time I retire. Traditionally, lawyers have been very secretive and closed about what they know about the law. If sharing what I know about becoming a lawyer and working in the field inspires people to join the profession and become better lawyers, then that’s great.

I want to know more


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