Trainee Blog: Private Client seat

Private client is a wide practice area, at the moment my days can look very different depending on what my supervisor or others in the team have on.

Generally my day is divided between client meetings, replying to correspondence and drafting documents. Client meetings form a large part of the role and are indispensable; spending time talking about people’s wishes and their concerns really is key to understanding what they need from the estate planning process.

Once I’m back at my desk there will usually be emails from ongoing tasks to catch up on. These can be a research question, which can take up the afternoon or smaller discrete tasks such as following up on a query for another lawyer in the team, or summarising a particular will or trust. The tasks are varied and it is a skill to keep track of and progress multiple requests or deadlines.

First thing or mid-afternoon I’ll have a coffee and unless I’m in the middle of something I try to read up on a topic I either need to refresh my understanding of or which has been covered in the industry press. Taxation laws in particular are constantly being updated and understanding what changes are coming in has been a theme of this seat!

At any point I will have documents to draft – often these are wills or letters of wishes, but there are also letters of advice, research notes and trust documents such as deeds of appointment or trustee resolutions.

Private client is different to other areas in that it is not based around transactions as such, and the work varies; from dealing with small discrete points to much larger complex drafting or advising. It’s also a balancing exercise between the time spent talking or meeting with clients and the technical tax and trust law underpinning the advice. Managing and balancing a varied working day or competing demands is a useful skill to have as a trainee – my attempts are always a work in progress – and this is an excellent seat to develop in.