Posted by Sian Brookes, solicitor liaison officer at Litigation Futures Associate Allianz Legal Protection 
I view getting out and meeting people as one of the most important aspects of my solicitor liaison role. Recently, following a very productive meeting, I started thinking about successful relationship building and, if asked for a top tip, what professional advice I would give to a law firm.
I’ve been visiting, on average, six different solicitors’ practices each month for almost 14 years now but surprisingly it didn’t take me long to settle on what I would say. Namely, “talk to your ATE provider, stay in touch”.
Now I’m well aware that most firms operate under a delegated authority scheme and perhaps more importantly these days, the time you spend in dialogue with us does not form part of your recoverable costs. So, why should you do it?
Firstly, it keeps the relationship on a good footing and will give your ATE insurer an enormous amount of comfort. After all, if you are with a reputable insurer, it’s likely your firm will have been carefully vetted at the outset when the scheme was established.
After that, there will be minimal contact on a day-to-day basis, so hearing from you allows us to be sure that we are truly in a partnership with you.
It’s our equivalent of ‘that client’ who is difficult to get instructions from – chances are that everything is fine but the not knowing makes you nervous!
It’s the same for us, magnified by potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds of indemnity we are on risk for. So my message to law firms would be to respond to any requests for information your ATE provider asks you for and feel free to ask why they need to know if it seems cumbersome or curious to you.
Secondly, if we know how you work and who to contact, it speeds up the time it takes us to make decisions or to process payments.
For instance, if we know your finance department deals with costs issues or that it takes 21 days to sign off claims, then we can adapt to fit your processes. We want to pay valid claims and make sure that you receive the best possible level of service from us, so the better we know your law firm, the better we can help you.
Finally, regular dialogue has the potential to lead to bigger and better things. We’ve picked up a thing or two after more than 30 years of experience in the market. We are more than happy to share our extensive knowledge and there’s a good chance we’ll have come across a similar scenario in the past so can point you in the right direction.
You may even be pleasantly surprised that these discussions can lead to the development of bespoke products, marketing support or simply a better way of dealing with reporting requirements.
So please do keep in touch, as now more than ever collaboration will be vital to keeping the market thriving.