Whats it all about?
Private client lawyers are usually the first port of call for individuals, families or trusts (a tool used to hold assets for the benefit of a third party) requiring legal advice on wealth management and tax planning. Some private client lawyers also focus on legal issues arising out of the death of an individual, such as the distribution of a deceased persons money and property.
The current trend is for clients to invest their money overseas (offshore) in tax havens such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands or the Channel Islands, and day-to-day work could well involve advising clients on the legal and tax implications of making such investments. However, a typical private client lawyer will still spend a lot of time on the more traditional work of drafting wills and filling forms.
Your clients will range from high-net-worth individuals to families, and will often include the rich and famous you could find yourself advising anyone from Richard Branson to a member of the Royal Family.
The working culture
Private client lawyers are not normally expected to do all-nighters or to work at weekends, and they generally have a better work-life balance than corporate lawyers, for instance. However, clients can be demanding because, as individuals, their personal interests are usually at stake and they may therefore need advice at a moments notice.
Since cases are more bite-sized than big corporate deals, junior lawyers and even trainees are likely to get the chance to get stuck in with serious cases early on, and in some instances may even get to run their own files.
Why is this interesting?
The work of a private client lawyer is extremely varied. One day you might be dealing with the estate of a famous photographer wishing to give his work to a museum, while the next you might be drafting documents relating to the creation of a complicated trust.
Personal and legal skills required
You will need to have a strong interest in people. Due to the nature of the work, you will have access to personal information, and discretion is essential so no name-dropping.