Kim Tasso looks at a three-tier, full firm approach to marketing private client services


New marketing techniques are emerging all the time. Larger law firms have in-house marketing specialists to help lawyers use these new marketing tools. But effective private client marketing requires more than adoption of the latest technology. 

In this article, I take a step back. To encourage you to be more strategic – regardless of whether you are in a large or small firm. To consider all aspects of the marketing and relationship management mix to ensure that your private client marketing is integrated and aligned. Getting the fundamentals of private client marketing needs a three-tier approach. 

The challenge of private client marketing

Marketing private client legal services has some unique challenges. It straddles two disciplines in marketing. Some private client lawyers adopt consumer marketing techniques – reaching out to the individuals and families who need legal advice through digital marketing techniques. Some may feel they have been left out of the digital race and some may feel that their target market is not accessible through digital channels. 

There is also a strong referral component to private client marketing, from both third-parties like wealth managers, and other internal departments cross-selling clients.

There is no ‘right way’ to market private client services. There are many approaches – which can be effectively used in isolation or as part of an integrated campaign. And you don’t have to be a large firm with deep pockets to succeed. However, you do need to have clarity of your aims, purpose and strategy. 

A ‘back to basics’ marketing approach for private client lawyers examines the way that the firm, the private client leadership team and the individual private client lawyers can work towards improving the effectiveness of private client marketing. 

1. Role of the firm’s leadership 

The starting point is what a law firm’s leadership team does to support – or thwart – private client marketing.

Strategy and brand

Every firm needs a business strategy – its vision, values and mission. All partners must be united in how all the component parts of the practice work together – and obviously how the private client team fits within that vision. 

The firm’s brand needs to be articulated and recognisable, and it should be clear how the private client team aligns with that brand to build its own market position.  


The ‘one firm’ philosophy has proven to be effective in law firm growth, reputation and profitability success. It drives a culture that enables all teams – including the private client department – to flourish. 

It avoids client protectionism, with the belief that clients belong to the firm, not a particular partner or team. This approach relies on having the right promotion, reward and recognition systems. If individual time and fee targets dominate, then cross-referrals and cross-selling (a vital source for private client teams) will be stilted. Similarly, culture dictates whether there is an expectation that every lawyer has a part to play in business development or whether it is the responsibility of just a few individuals.  


Data is the lifeblood of modern marketing. So, a fundamental part of the infrastructure is the client relationship management (CRM) system. You must know who your clients are, where they came from, when they joined, their history, the fees and profits generated (lifetime value) and how you communicate with them. 

The database is also where the effectiveness of different marketing approaches can be monitored, including the number of enquiries, conversions, value and volume of transactions, the cost per acquisition and the return on investment.


You need a modern website that is secure, reliable, fast and easy to navigate for clients. And lawyers must be able to easily update the information, and add blog posts. There needs to be separate pages for each private client service and topic so that they are accessible via search engines. 

Most marketing activity will drive clients and referrers to the web site, where clients can obtain information and sign up. Search engine optimisation and advertising will also drive prospects to the website. Web traffic and activity is a key measure of marketing effectiveness. 



Marketing and business development expertise

Most firms will have in-house marketing and business development resources. These may be directed at promoting the firm overall, or supporting activity within particular territories, sectors or service lines. Yet some private client teams are left out of the marketing support provided by their firms.  

PR and media relations support

Media relations is a specialist area of expertise where some firms use external agencies. I recently posted a series of case studies by Kysen – a PR company specialising in legal marketing. 

Talking to the media – whether local or national newspapers, specialist media, or radio and TV coverage – can raise your profile and generate leads. Sometimes, this can be extended into advertising with sponsored content – for example, Scottish firm Harper Macleod had a campaign focusing on how to protect assets at the end of the financial year.

The government recently floated the idea of removing inheritance tax (IHT). Print and broadcast media were awash with opinions, even though less than 4% of the population were likely to have to pay IHT. But where were all the private client lawyers contributing to this debate? I heard just one mentioning allowances for disabled dependents. This felt like a missed opportunity for private client lawyers. 

Another aspect of PR is helping the private client team achieve rankings in the legal directories and to win awards such as the British Wills and Probate Awards, eprivateclient Excellence Awards, STEP Private Client Awards and Spear’s 500.  

Community engagement and events programme 

Most law firms have a busy schedule of events to which prospective clients, existing clients, friends, influencers and referrers are invited.

Many events will be aimed at the local community, and the private client team are invited along to raise awareness, showcase their expertise and forge connections. 

Training and development

Firms also provide training and development programmes to enable lawyers to acquire the relevant skills and confidence to engage in business development. It’s unfair to expect lawyers to participate in marketing if they haven’t been equipped with the skills to do so. Their time is precious, so training will ensure that time invested in marketing generates good results for all involved. 

2. Role of the private client team’s leadership 

Once the firm’s leadership team has played its part, the emphasis shifts to those partners leading the private client team. 

Strategy and plan

There needs to be a strategic marketing plan for the private client team. A coordinated and collaborative approach will focus resources and ensure consistency – otherwise, the risk is that each private client lawyer will attempt to do everything themselves, and take marketing in too many different directions.

Ideally, all members of the private client team should be involved in the plan’s development. And each private client lawyer – no matter how senior or junior – will know what they must do to contribute to the team’s overall success, allowing each lawyer to play to their strengths. 

The plan may also allocate responsibility for particular relationships – such as for key referrers or major clients or for liaising with other legal departments. 


A good marketing strategy will be based on accurate and up-to-date information about what is going on in the market, and what opportunities and threats there are. 

The private client leadership team must have access to the economic, political, sociological, environmental, legislative and technological trends that might impact its markets and client needs. 

They will also need their finger on the pulse of local competitor activity (such as WWL: Private Client rankings) – from law firms as well as other professional advisers – so they know the choices faced by clients, and so their team’s messages are well positioned and targeted. 

Proposition and pricing

There needs to be clarity on priority services, key messages and positioning. The team has to have the right skills and expertise both today and for the future (succession planning). 

A key part of this is how the firm’s private client services are priced and provide guidance to the private client lawyers on how to talk to clients about the value of its services. 

Segmentation and targeting

A critical part of the private client plan will be the segments (or niches) and ideal target clients and referrers. 

Effective segmentation and targeting will ensure that marketing activities are directed at the right groups and segments at the right time with the right messages. 

I recently identified over 50 private client niches. Around 10 were in the high-net-worth (HNW) category, another 10 were in different types of family structures and others focused on occupational, cultural or vulnerable groups. 

Some real creativity can be seen in private client teams. For example, Payne Hicks Beach targets art collectors, Kingsley Napley targets Americans in London, and Farrer & Co integrates services for senior executives. Boodle Hatfield lead in the family offices segment and Charles Russell Speechlys launched its private offices in autumn 2023.

Telephone and email enquiry management

There are all manner of marketing and sales processes to be managed. I’ve been asked recently to help several private client teams in how they respond to emails and calls generated by marketing programmes.

Some firms have centralised approaches (for example, Thackray Williams in Bromley recently advertised for a new business handler for private client services) and others operate rota systems where everyone takes on some enquiry management. Private client lawyers need to be guided on the qualification process and to be trained in how to respond professionally and confidently to enquiries to maximise the chances of conversion.  

Other client processes

Firms can introduce automation that enables private client lawyers to do more with less. For example, Willans used Ochresoft’s Intelliworks case management system to transform the way they produced fee estimates and halved the time to produce IHT400 forms. 

Client onboarding is another process needing attention. Private client leadership teams also need to ensure that service quality is monitored – many firms adopt the Net Promoter Score and will publish client testimonials and recommendations.  

Thought leadership campaigns

Thought leadership is a highly successful strategy for lawyers, and private client teams are no different.

This is where research is commissioned around a key issue that is then used to drive a campaign of communications activities, such as conferences, webinars, seminars, newsletters, emails, articles, blogs and social media. 

Lubbock Fine accountants conducted research to show a 5% fall in the sale of £5m+ residential properties in London. A partner was quoted in The Times saying that the fall in sales was partially due to foreign HNWs slowing purchases as interest rates rose sharply.

As well as positioning the private client team as experts in the topics, thought leadership provides content that can be used by everyone to share on social media and talk about with clients and referrers. 

Communications campaigns

There are plenty of examples of private client lawyers driving successful campaigns with opinions and expertise.

For example, offshore law firm Carey Olsen produced a series of webinars, on trusts, which ran for several months. It built awareness, audience and a considerable amount of content that was repurposed for the website, articles and social media posts. 

Similar private client campaigns by other firms have covered: London rural land briefings, landed estates tax conferences, retirement and later life roadshows, and contentious trusts and probate conferences. A private wealth guide 2023/24 produced by Attwaters Jameson Hill solicitors was adapted for two counties – Herts and Essex – and is supported by a private wealth video. Clarke Willmott organised a private client webinar series on buy-to-let properties and IHT planning.

Email remains an important and cost-effective mechanism for staying in touch with a community. Emails can be used to drive action such as downloads and subscriptions. Many firms have regular newsletters with all members of the private client team contributing. For example, Mishcon de Reya produces Executive Matters, a quarterly publication for senior executives, and Wiggin and Dana produced a podcast called Future Focused about sophisticated estate planning. 

Small firms may feel that they don’t have the resources, but there are plenty of content providers available that accept contributions. 

Social media is a great way to reach potentially huge audiences as well as very focused niches, and can be used to generate signups and harvest contact details that can be added to an email database. In June 2023, Mishcon de Reya won “Best Social Media Marketing Gold” at the Brand Management and Reputation Awards (run by Citywealth). 


Private client teams will organise event programmes where people can meet with the private client team.

Some events will be educational and showcase expertise, and others will be informal receptions and socials. Following a successful seminar in Geneva (aimed at generating international referrals), Collyer Bristow organised a tax and estate planning quiz show titled Would I lie to you?. Another interesting event I noticed was organised by Mischcon de Reya for ultra HNW with De Beers – the diamond specialists.  

New product or service development

A few years ago, I was impressed by the work of RWK Goodman when it developed a new private client service called Life Safe® – an ultra-secure, online vault where clients with complex legal needs can store and keep track of their affairs. 

More recently, West Country law firm Ashfords launched a similar system called Digital Legacy; Payne Hicks Beach launched a private wealth portal; and Dutton Gregory produced a simple but effective ‘start your will online’ system. The accountancy firms are making great strides in this area too. Crowe’s Life Builder tool is a good example – and it won a private wealth award in June 2022.  

3. Role of the individual private client lawyer 

The firm has its overall strategy, brand and infrastructure in place, and the private client leadership team has a focused plan. So, attention then turns to the behaviour of individuals. 

Attitude, confidence, skills and motivation

Culture will ensure that each private client lawyer has the right mindset. The firm’s training should equip each lawyer with the confidence, skills and motivation to promote themselves and deliver a high-quality service within strong client relationships. 


Every private client lawyer needs to raise their visibility internally, forge relationships with colleagues in other legal departments and develop their knowledge of the firm and all its clients and services, so they can be good ambassadors for the firm. And they also need to build their own personal brand – what they do, how they do it, how they add value and why they are different from other private client lawyers.  

Participate in the team’s marketing

Each lawyer needs to be familiar with the private client team’s marketing plans and how they can participate and contribute to initiatives. This might involve, for example, helping to prepare talks and articles, attending team events and perhaps taking the lead on a campaign for a specific target audience or topic.

Networking skills

Every private client lawyer will need to invest in developing their own network of contacts, clients and referrers. This should start at the earliest opportunity in their legal career. 

COVID-19 meant that opportunities to acquire the skills and confidence to meet people socially were reduced so some firms have provided skills training for both traditional and online networking. 

Many firms organise support by having partners and senior lawyers take more junior lawyers networking to introduce them to their contacts, and allowing them to observe experts in action and absorb skills by osmosis.

Presenting skills – giving talks 

Young private client lawyers are encouraged to prepare and present talks, honing their presentation skills. Talks can then be repurposed into articles and social media posts.

Social media skills

Every lawyer needs to know how to use LinkedIn to maintain a suitable social media profile, and to showcase their expertise and interact with clients and referrers.

But some firms are supercharging their private client lawyers’ social media success by providing access to sophisticated tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This provides facilities to help you build focused target lists, manage lists of prospects and prioritise relationship building activities.  


There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy for the successful private client marketing and business development. And you can succeed with an approach that is led from the firm’s leadership, from the private client team leadership or from individual private client lawyers. But the real magic happens when these three elements are aligned and working together effectively.