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10 Must-Have Skills for the Successful Modern Private Client Lawyer – do you have what it takes?

Welcome to the latest edition of the Legal Lens where we deliver fresh and informative content from and for the legal sector straight to your inbox.

Private client law is a unique and highly demanding field requiring a blend of specialised skills and knowledge. Catering to high-net-worth individuals, it demands a combination of technical expertise, discretion, flexibility, and excellent communication. This article delves into the top ten must-have skills.

1. In-depth Technical Knowledge

The cornerstone of every successful private client lawyer is their technical prowess. One should possess extensive knowledge of commercial landscapes, regulatory frameworks, and various investment strategies. This includes being conversant with personal and corporate tax, estate management, trusts, wills, and inheritance tax.

A skilled private client lawyer should be able to provide sound advice aimed at preserving and enhancing your client’s wealth and that of their dependents. To keep abreast with the ever-evolving financial landscape, continuous learning and staying updated on the latest developments is crucial. Don’t ignore your CPD!

2. Utmost Discretion

Given that your clientele often includes high-profile individuals and charities, private client lawyers must exercise the highest level of discretion. You need to be able to  handle your client’s affairs with sensitivity, ensuring that privacy is maintained at all times.

3. Flexibility in Approach

No two clients are the same. Each individual comes with unique needs and preferences. Therefore, a successful private client lawyer must exhibit high levels of flexibility. This may include adjusting your working hours to cater to overseas clients or modifying your approach to align with a client’s specific strategy.

4. Excellent Communication Skills

Legal jargon can be complex and intimidating. An adept private client lawyer should possess excellent communication skills. One should be capable of interpreting and simplifying complex legal matters into plain English, ensuring your clients fully understand the advice given and the implications of any proposed strategies.

5. Personalised Client Service

A private client lawyer’s ability to offer personalised service can be a key differentiator. From the legal matters you advise on, to the way you conduct business, each client will have unique requirements. To attract and retain these clients, you will need to tailor your services to meet each client’s specific needs.

6. Creative Thinking

Maximising a client’s wealth, minimising their tax liabilities and safeguarding their dependents often requires out-of-the-box thinking. Hence, creative thinking is another invaluable skill in a private client lawyer’s arsenal. Always explore all possible scenarios and outcomes when constructing a proposal.

7. Proactive Initiative

Like in any other professional field, those working with private clients should have the confidence and the ability to take the initiative. Whether it’s about securing new clients, exploiting opportunities, or maximising profits for your firm, a proactive approach can make all the difference.

8. Commercial Awareness

To advise your clients effectively, private client lawyers need to have a thorough understanding of the commercial landscape. Do be aware of any changes or new regulations that could potentially impact your clients’ portfolios or your firm.

9. Reliability

Trust is a currency in the world of private client law. To retain high-net-worth clients, a lawyer must be 100% reliable. You must consistently deliver on your promises, meet deadlines, and communicate effectively. Honesty, dependability, and trustworthiness are non-negotiable traits to exhibit and nurture.

10. Attention to Detail

Lastly, the nature of legal advice is such that even a minor oversight could have significant ramifications. Therefore, attention to detail is paramount. Each piece of communication and legal advice should be meticulously reviewed for accuracy before being presented to the client.

Here are some notable UK private client lawyers known for their distinct expertise – follow and learn!

Ashley Crossley – Baker & McKenzie

Notable Skills: Ashley is recognised for his expertise in international wealth management, focusing on Russia, the Middle East, and Asia. He advises on tax, trusts, and estate planning for high-net-worth individuals.

Bart Peerless – CRS

Notable Skills: Bart is distinguished for his work in tax planning, trusts, and succession planning for high-net-worth families and individuals.

Camilla Wallace – Wedlake Bell

Notable Skills: Camilla specialises in wills, trusts, and tax planning, with a particular emphasis on complex international estates.

Ceris Gardner – MTG

Notable Skills: Ceris is known for her expertise in advising international families, trustees, and beneficiaries on succession planning, trusts, and UK tax.

Charles Gothard – Macfarlanes

Notable Skills: Charles excels in international estate planning and trust management, with a nuanced understanding of multi-jurisdictional tax issues and family governance.

Christopher Groves – Withersworldwide

Notable Skills: Chris is renowned for his work in international tax and estate planning, advising high-net-worth individuals, families, and trustees.

Clare MauriceMaurice Turnor Gardner LLP

Notable Skills: Clare is recognised for advising international families on governance, succession, and structuring, with a focus on family charters and constitutions.

James Quarmby – Stephenson Harwood

Notable Skills: James is adept in private wealth matters, including tax efficiency for UK property, residency planning, tax investigations, philanthropy, and international succession planning.

Nicholas Warr – Taylor Wessing

Notable Skills: Nick is a leader in international private wealth, specialising in trusts, estate planning, and advising clients with Middle Eastern connections.

Patricia Milner – Withersworldwide

Notable Skills: Patricia is known for her expertise in real estate, advising on structuring property holdings, tax planning, and regulatory matters for high-net-worth individuals and families.

Sanjvee Shah – Taylor Wessing

Notable Skills: Sanjvee advises ultra-high-net-worth individuals on global estate, succession, and tax planning. She has a diverse practice, dealing with complex

Sarah von Schmidt – Farrer

Notable Skills: Sarah is recognised for her expertise in advising high-net-worth individuals and families on estate planning, trusts, and tax matters.

Each of these lawyers has a particular set of skills and areas of expertise, from international wealth management to family law, that sets them apart in the field of private client work.

They are recognised for their strategic foresight, deep understanding of their clients’ needs, and the ability to navigate complex, often international, legal landscapes.

The role of a private client lawyer is not for the faint-hearted.

It demands a unique blend of hard and soft skills. Yet, for those who rise to the challenge, it can be an incredibly rewarding career.


Our reputation in legal sector provides us with extensive access to the top legal talent. Working with us ensures that you have a channel through which to connect with the most capable candidates and build an extraordinary team.

We work with individuals throughout their career journey. They trust in our ability to find the best opportunities for them.

Contact me at info@hqglobalsearch.com to discuss your unique situation.

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