Fiona Heald muses on how to attract more young solicitors into private client work

Working in private client law means our days are varied. This is one of the reasons why some of us ‘old-timers’ still love our jobs after 25 years. This was brought home to me the other day through two different situations, which highlighted how the world in which we live in has changed the way in which we deal with matters, rather than the law itself.

The day started with me needing to explain to a new colleague (who has told me that she was not born when I qualified!) why you need to wait for cheques to clear before you can send funds out. This led to a whole conversation about how cheques work and what ‘bouncing’ a cheque means. Our chat concluded with my colleague informing me that before she had come to work for the firm, she had never written a cheque!

The day ended at the Law Society, where I watched a demonstration by HMCTS of the new online grant of representation service, designed to simplify the application process and allow for probate applications by solicitors to be handled digitally. The service will only be used in certain circumstances, but even those of us who are not natural computer-users should find it helpful. It was certainly eye-opening. I sometimes take a single-minded view when it comes to new technology and digitising legal processes, but online grant of representation is a positive step.

As I explained in my last comment for PS, I would like to see more solicitors entering private client. Yes, we need to make a case for how varied the work is. But private client is also about stepping outside your comfort zone, in that we often have to deal with people who are vulnerable and/or at difficult and stressful times in their lives. It’s challenging and stimulating, and anything but boring.

For those of us already working in this area, a little assistance or pointers in the right direction is always a good thing. On that note, it has been decided that this winter’s Private Client Section regional seminars should focus not only on the technical aspects of what we do, but also on soft skills. Our regional seminars on elderly client are split into two sessions: one in the mid-afternoon on how to communicate with elderly clients, led by Dr Elizabeth Collier of Salford University, and a case law update from Helen Clarke, starting in the early evening. The next seminar takes place on 15 February in Manchester.