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Private client law: explained

Private client law: explained

The Rookie Lawyer


Reading time: three minutes

After listening to a few podcasts, I've developed an interest in what I've always thought were called ‘personal legal services' − an umbrella term including family, wills and estates and trusts − and started researching firms that provide these services. As I continued to look into firms offering personal legal services, I noticed the phrase ‘private client law' coming up on firm's websites quite frequently. Having never heard of it before, and being quite curious about it, I decided to conduct some further research. This article explores private client law, including what it is, who it's for and the skills you'd need to develop if it's an area of law you're interested in.

What’s private client law?

Private client work is, at its core, about providing legal services to individuals and families. The services in question branch across several areas, including tax, managing estates and trusts, wills and investments. These clients can range from high-net-worth individuals to charities.

The primary aim of private client law is to guide and advise clients on maintaining and building their wealth and protecting their assets − as well as helping them manage it for their futures (and the futures of their families).

For this reason, private client lawyers will often be heavily involved in advising their clients on investments, trusts, the purchasing and managing of property and realty, and the drafting of wills and contracts.

Read this Practice Area Profile to find out more about life as a private client lawyer at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.

Who are the private clients?

Clients typically fall into two categories, depending on the firm in question. They can either be traditional clients, usually people with generational wealth or those who own many properties (eg, landed gentry or organisations), or can be entrepreneurial clients who’ve made their wealth through a business and are seeking to preserve and grow it.

Spotlight on skills

Beyond a knowledge of trusts and tax law, as a private client lawyer one of your strongest assets is likely to be your social skills. Since most of your clients would be families − likely long-term clients, or future longstanding clients − you'd inevitably develop strong professional relationships with them as you manage their personal and business assets (and help them draft their wills − no pressure at all!). Therefore, a sense of empathy and discretion is needed, alongside (as usual) meticulous attention to detail. Communication is another skill that comes in handy in this practice area − though, of course, you'd need it anywhere!

Typical tasks

As with other practice areas, private client lawyers will often be involved in drafting or reviewing documents (usually wills, letters of advice to clients and trust deeds) and conducting research.

As an associate or partner, you may also be expected to visit your clients regularly. Private client law is an area where, even as a trainee, lots of client contact and proximity is to be expected − it's certainly not for the faint-hearted!

It's clear that private client law is not only a fascinating area of law (aside from the tax element!), but also a rewarding practice area that uniquely allows you to develop interpersonal and longstanding relationships with your clients. Even if you've not considered being a private client lawyer, I hope this article encouraged you to give it some more thought!