Wills & probate is a real hybrid for law firms. There are some people dealing with private client work at very large law firms dealing with clients having millions of pounds of assets, and the majority working in regional and smaller practices dealing with the full range of work from unemployed pensioners with no assets through to farmers with million pound properties to dispose of.
Private client solicitors were a dying breed a few years ago, as more NQs were interested in litigation work – crime, commercial litigation etc.. However, as people start to have more time on their hands, and hence more time to worry about their futures, private client work has picked up.
The majority of wills & probate work is usually divided between administration of probate – mundane work is passed onto executives at a lower level and non-qualified fee earners, and will drafting – again most of which at the majority of firms is handled by non-qualifieds, which are more cost effective. You will spend a lot of time behind a desk working files and dealing with admin, as this is not the most exciting area of law enabling you to do interesting things! There are also such things as IHT issues, CGT considerations, Lasting Powers of Attorney, enduring powers of attorney, living wills, and the golden goose these days – the scary and murky world of “Trusts”! Lawyers who have experience of the latter are always well sought after, and if you can talk the talk and walk the walk about these strange and mythical beasts, you will attract good salary levels..
Salary levels tend to make up for the monotony of this work – most private client partners in firms are into the 60k salary level and upwards these days, which is quite reasonable. There is usually a fair bit of marketing involved to get the maximum work through the door, something solicitors firms are not exactly very well known for!