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Garry Nutt found a calling for personal injury law and says that he is interested in both the technical legal side and the medical side. He says one of the toughest things is knowing that his advice will have significant impact on people. In recognition of his work in this area, Garry was awarded the 2021 “Lawyer Of The Year Award - Personal Injury Litigation, Perth” by Best Lawyers.

We sat down with Garry to talk about the impact that COVID-19 is having on the way he and his clients work and also the type of issues he expects to see, the type of personal and professional skills lawyers in personal injury law need to succeed and how Benjamin Law’s “Growing Up Queer in Australia” anthology resonated with him.  

What drew you to practise insurance law?

In a sense, chance. I left law school planning on being a family lawyer but soon found that, in practice, I was not well suited. I have always been interested in the technical aspects of the law and the contractual and statutory aspects of insurance law satisfies that interest. Largely practising in personal injury, I also am very interested in issues of medical diagnosis and causation. So, it was a convergence of interest.

How has the current issue with COVID-19 affected your area of law and the clients you work with?

The way of practising has changed in the sense that conferences and meetings are no longer face-to-face and that is unusual. My insurer clients are largely paperless but working from home presents challenges and adjustments for all. I think that there will be positive learnings from this, particularly in relation to flexibility. Employers have clearly been concerned by the risk of claims from COVID-19 but I have not seen any in practice (as yet). I have seen a shift in settlement negotiations and a difficulty in achieving outcomes by reason of excessive expectations due to concerns over future employment. I expect that will continue.

What do you see are the major issues or trends in insurance-related law for the coming year?

Very hard to say, as the fallout from COVID-19 is yet to really be seen. Claims are inevitable from a workers’ compensation perspective. Generally, I would foresee issues from working from home arising in many contexts and the analogous reliance on technology leading to significant cyber issues.

What are the toughest problems and decisions you handle?

I truly enjoy the law but as I largely deal with claims involving personal injury, I’m very aware of the significant impacts that the law and my advice can have on a person. There are also reputational concerns of our employer and insurer clients to consider.

What are the types of professional and personal skills that you think people need to succeed at this type of work?

In my work, I think you need to be personable and able to interact with everyone you meet. It is very fast-paced and I think you have to have a sense of humour and be empathetic. What we do impacts people and we need to be aware of that. Professionally, I think you need an eye for detail and mind that can understand both the law and its commercial effects. Your client’s business and the impacts of the claim need to be at the forefront of your mind.

Have you read or watched anything lately that you really enjoyed or that made you stop and think?

Being a bit of a Star Wars tragic and spending more time at home, I watched all of the episodes of The Mandalorian in a weekend. I have also started reading for pleasure again (which I previously only did in Bali). I am drawn to biographies and autobiographies. I have just started reading an anthology of stories of personal experiences edited by Benjamin Law called “Growing Up Queer in Australia”. The stories resonate with me and my history but also allow me to see how far we and I have come. It reinforces my belief in my role in diversity and inclusion.

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