Our very own Mark Hipkin was recently featured as Business Insight’s Solicitor of the Month. Take a look at his full interview with the magazine below.
Which area of the law do you work in?
I have always lived and practised on Tyneside. I have worked in many areas of the law in the past but have always concentrated on civil litigation and particularly personal injury. I now have a niche practice within our full service legal firm acting for motorcyclists, scooterists and cyclists and all things two-wheeled. I write a light-hearted biker review on a new model of motorcycle or scooter each month in a regional magazine.
Did you always envisage a career in the profession?
I did from about the age of 14. My uncle was training to be a lawyer and it seemed a very interesting job. I had also always wanted to join the army and at the age of 25 I was sponsored for a short service commission in an infantry regiment. I eventually decided it was not for me and I should have done it earlier, when I was 18.
What has been your career path so far?
I completed my Articles at John Brennan & Co and received a fantastic grounding in dealing with all manner of legal disciplines and people. I was then made a Junior Partner. After nine years I left to start my own business at the age of 31 and was a sole practitioner for 25 years as Hipkin & Co in Whitley Bay. I was approached to merge with Alderson Law LLP and did so in 2015. This enabled me to further develop my niche personal injury practice. I mostly act in complex, often vigorously defended and life-changing, accident cases. I have also had a background in commercial litigation, mergers and acquisitions and dealt with most forms of legal aid in my career. I have lectured start-ups on the legal “do’s and don’ts” of opening their first business. I am still a member of the Law Society’s ‘Lawyers for Your Business’ scheme and I was the Local Law Society’s President in 2011.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
There have been many from my own start-up and 33 years later, it’s now Covid-19. Between that there have been numerous recessions and, like any other business or profession, you have to adapt, look ahead, be flexible and always try to do the right thing. In terms of casework, I took a class action against the owners and the advisors of a scam property investment scheme which took up eight years of my working career and saw all of the claims through to a very good and successful conclusion for all clients. That included an intense three day mediation! Most recently, I have achieved £1M plus compensation packages for seriously injured motorcyclists to enable them to rebuild their lives and obtain single level accommodation so that they are looked after in the future.
Who do you most respect in your profession?
I have a respect for values rather than particular people. Sometimes someone in particular will embody those values. It can be a QC, sometimes one of the team of trusted barristers that I use, sometimes it’s the medical and liability experts I use and sometimes it’s my own clients and their witnesses and other times it may be mediators, evaluators and judges. Those who take the time to properly and fully prepare for whatever they need to do, engage with me and the other side, and just do their job properly with no fuss, no edge, are approachable and listen. I am a great fan of all forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Which fictional lawyer would you most like to meet?
It would have to be Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. That character, both in film and book form, embodied those qualities.
What is your greatest strength?
Perseverance until I achieve a successful outcome or the best outcome possible for each client.
What is your biggest weakness?
Never giving up!
What are your remaining career aspirations?
The law and the legal profession always changes and will continue to change.It will give me great pleasure to continue and continually do my best in my niche practice area and our firm would like to develop those plans regionally. I would also like to mentor and pass on my experience to younger lawyers and give them a chance to develop and succeed.
How do you see your profession evolving in the next 10 years?
I believe the core values and qualities required are the same as when I first walked into a solicitor’s office as an articled clerk in 1980. The way that the work is delivered has changed enormously. I remember that first fax machine, golf-ball typewriters and the first huge PCs and everything before and after. Lawyers, however, are very adaptable and have been throughout the ages. There is no substitute for sound and proper advice, given after a full consideration of the facts and grounded representation to every client.
How do you like to unwind?
Apart from my love of two wheels (I have completed the Coast to Coast and Coast and Castles cycle routes and I am now down to just one motorbike!), I enjoy practising martial arts and am a Second Dan in Tang Soo Do (The Way of the Chinese Hand) which is a form of Korean Karate. I also practise Tai Chi and enjoy spending time with my wife Carol, three children, our new grandson and my 16 year old Sprocker Spaniel. Yin and Yang!