A life in wills and probate

I have worked in Private Client my whole working life, but I had not intended to work in Wills and Probate after I finished my A-levels a lifetime ago now! I originally applied to be a cashier at HSBC and worked as a cashier for a short time before a job was advertised for, what was then, called a trust clerk. I have never looked back since. 

Working for the bank back then entailed the use of much carbon paper and typing in banking entries onto a clunky computer from handwritten cards given to me by my colleagues, so very old school. We only dealt with Wills/estates and trusts where we were named as executors/trustees. We used lots of reference books, phone directories and made many phone calls to share registrars, brokers, valuers, etc as emails were just becoming popular and the internet had not yet arrived to take over the world. It made the whole estate administration process a lot slower and very much paper driven. There was a lot less client pressure than there is now though! 

HSBC, in its wisdom, soon closed all its private client offices so I made another jump to NatWest, again to do Wills, probate, and trust work. I managed to stay there for about ten years but, as with HSBC, the bank decided to close most of its offices. I didn’t fancy a 132-mile round trip daily commute to one of the few remaining offices, so it was change job time again, but this time to a firm of solicitors. It was quite a culture change going from an organisation which didn’t require time recording and where there were no fee targets to the high-pressure world of being a fee earner.

It was the M25 and the constant traffic jams that saw me move to Robbins Olivey (before it merged to form Barlow Robbins and then Moore Barlow) so I have seen the firm in three incarnations. Over my long career, improving technology has increased the amount and speed of client contact considerably, either by email or phone. Clients’, well younger clients are much more aware and confident of what they want from a private client lawyer. They don’t defer to the lawyer like they did even 20 years ago, which in my view is a good thing. 

To summarise, the speed at which the private client lawyer is expected to operate seems to me to be much higher that it used to be and there is no room for complacency as you never know when the next email will arrive!