The Lawyer Monthly Expert Witness Awards 2021

LAWYER MONTHLY EXPERT WITNESS AWARDS 2021 - 58 - DISABILITY EXPERT WITNESS Contact SHEK Architects Ltd. Regal House, London Road, Twickenham, TW1 3QS, United Kingdom 0207 846 7318 Marisa Shek BA (Hons) Dip Arch RIBA In this interview, Marisa explains how her background has been instrumental in supporting her role as an Accommodation expert Witness and the importance of remaining in practice. How do you combine your profession as an architect with your expert witness role? In my expert witness capacity, I accept legal instructions to provide expert evidence for the quantum of accommodation claims in accordance with the Civil procedure Rules. As an architect, I am trained to be a problem solver and I thrive on figuring out how to create environments that facilitate the best functional and holistic outcomes. A big part of that process involves gaining an understanding of the experience from the occupants point of view, so when I am designing a hospital it will be the patients as much as the caregivers. So while the nature of work is very different to my expert witness role, it is fundamental in supporting it andproviding me with the knowledge and expertise that accredits my ability to advise the Court. What added value do you provide? SHEK Architects is an architectural practice first and foremost and that is an important point to make because while I am personally known for expert witness work, my practice delivers buildings and collaborates with design teams on a range of construction projects on a day-to-day basis. It is a very happy medium for me because it enables me to stay active and be relevant in both professions. Accommodation experts from other disciplines (such as surveyors and building technicians) may have occupied this field for many years, however I believe it is the wide- ranging skill sets of an architect that can appropriately address the spectrum of accommodation issues that are inherent in complex and often high value claims. What complexities do you face in your role and how do you overcome them? Often the evidence served by the claimant contrasts significantly with those served by the defendant, and it can be difficult not being drawn into taking sides and it is a test to your strength of character. It can be a tricky field to navigate but it is my declaration that my duty is the Court and not to the parties involved. It is the only way to maintain a fair Judicial System. What do you like about your job? I enjoy juggling both professions, and while it means a lot of CPD, my working days vary so much. Activities can range from visiting a claimant in their home, on a video call with Counsel, to being scrubbed up and gowned, measuring up an operating theatre. I also meet people from all walks of life and different professions, such as carers, assistive technologists, prosthetists which is so important in widening my knowledge and I am always learning. UNITED KINGDOM Architect

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