Areas of work, specialisms and alternatives

What is private client law? A guide for aspiring solicitors

18 Aug 2023, 14:35

Private client work is less deadline driven than transactional areas of practice – but always busy.

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Private client work isn’t really its own area of law, but rather is a field of work encompassing tax, trusts and other financial instruments, frequently for wealthy individuals.

What is private client law?

Private client work differs from the transactional work that private equity or banking lawyers carry out. Expect to juggle ten different matters in a day rather than one or two big deals. However, this area is less deadline driven, and therefore more controllable, than transactional work.

What do private client solicitors do?

A typical private client workload involves: estate, succession and tax planning; structuring wealth to pass down the generations; elements of trust management (advising trustees on the administration of trusts); and aspects of probate and charity work – often for high-net-worth private individuals. Private client lawyers travel fairly regularly to see clients, who include entrepreneurs, trustees, private banks, charities, individuals and family offices (an organisation that assumes the day-to-day management and administration of a family’s financial and tax affairs).

What is life like as a private client trainee?

Trainees can expect to be called into a client meeting at the drop of a hat, where they’ll take notes and carry out follow-up work afterwards. Trainees are often asked to prepare the first draft of a will, draft trust deeds or prepare immigration visa applications. Researching a gritty tax or trust law point is another typical trainee task.

What skills do you need to be a private client solicitor?

Private client solicitors need skills that relate to dealing with people, such as an ability to build rapport, empathy and communication skills. Given the larger number of smaller cases, organisational skills and technical ability are also important.

Types of law practised within private client work

  • Trusts
  • Tax

How much can I earn in private client law?

You will likely undertake private client law as a seat on a training contract as part of a rotation and may specialise later. You can take a look at our article on How much you can earn as a trainee solicitor to get a broader picture of how much law firms pay trainees, but it’s not uncommon for firms with UK offices to offer £50,000 to trainees in their first year, rising to anywhere up to and above £100,000 upon qualification.

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