Probate law/Estate planning

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Anonymous User
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Probate law/Estate planning

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:27 am

Is this a section of law that is always done by smaller/boutique firms? How does one break into it? Is it totally dependant on building your own client base?

It just seems very specialized and it's something I'm interested in doing. A bit dry, of course, but honest.

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NoleinNY
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Re: Probate law/Estate planning

Postby NoleinNY » Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is this a section of law that is always done by smaller/boutique firms? How does one break into it? Is it totally dependant on building your own client base?

It just seems very specialized and it's something I'm interested in doing. A bit dry, of course, but honest.

Mostly small/boutique, with some mid-sized general practice, and in rare cases, a few big firms have a handful of attorneys do it for high net worth individuals (See Dodgers owner divorce. Yes, I know that's family law, but they go hand in hand.)

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Re: Probate law/Estate planning

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:10 pm

A lot of Midlaw firms have this practice for HNW individuals. It generates a lot of ancillary business from estate administration and litigation once the clients kick the bucket.

My firm has ~40 attorneys and about 7 of them focus mainly on estates. We actually hired 2 associates in E&T recently, and based on their bios I'd say that the best way to get into this practice is to load up on tax coursework.

I know that McDermott Will & Emery has a prominent trusts/estates practice among BigLaw firms, and the hiring partner at Skadden famously got called out a couple years ago for not knowing that his firm had this practice.

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Re: Probate law/Estate planning

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:06 am

Thanks for the info. It does seem like this practice would go hand in hand with tax work.

It also seems to be a kind of law that not a lot of people are gunning for, for whatever reason.

I was the exectutor of my father's estate when I was 21, and that's what actually got me interested in it in the first place.

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Re: Probate law/Estate planning

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:58 am

A lot of this stuff will be handled by the crappy 2-man firms for $799 for the majority of work. If you wan to make a career out of it and not be miserable, find the firms in your area that do family law or estate planning or a mix for high net worth people, as the practice is totally different. Once you get a couple years experience, you can lateral over to a big firm with a section that does this.

There is a huge difference between doing regular Joe divorces and estate planning and doing it for rich people though. I think the only viable way to make money and enjoy your job is to do it at a HNW place.

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Indifferent
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Re: Probate law/Estate planning

Postby Indifferent » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:Is this a section of law that is always done by smaller/boutique firms?

No, it's done by some large firms as well, but usually not the elite firms. If you're interested in seeing what firms practice in your desired geographic area, go to Martindale.com, advanced search, narrow to your desired state and the 'trusts and estates' practice, and search.

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Re: Probate law/Estate planning

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:16 am

yea it's not the cash cow for most firms because its much harder to bill an entire associate's day to John Smith than it is to XYZ, Inc. it is mainly a service industry that some firms have to assist their corporate clients. then again, it does work in reverse for some firms that draw in clients with their T&E/Private Client/Private Wealth groups and then end up doing corporate work for these clients as well. but yes, def drugery unless your client needs estate tax planning ($10M+ per married couple currently) - especially drugery on the estate administration side - probate/surrogate courts are typically intolerable and anitquated.

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Re: Probate law/Estate planning

Postby 2LLLL » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:08 pm

yea it's not the cash cow for most firms because its much harder to bill an entire associate's day to John Smith than it is to XYZ, Inc. it is mainly a service industry that some firms have to assist their corporate clients. then again, it does work in reverse for some firms that draw in clients with their T&E/Private Client/Private Wealth groups and then end up doing corporate work for these clients as well. but yes, def drugery unless your client needs estate tax planning ($10M+ per married couple currently) - especially drugery on the estate administration side - probate/surrogate courts are typically intolerable and anitquated.




I agree- it's definitely not a practice that lends itself to high leverage, which is why I'd imagine you don't see many E&T associates in BigLaw firms that have that group. I'd also imagine that partners who do this also do a fair bit of general tax work as well.

I don't know that I'd call it drudgery though, from my exposure it's pretty interesting trying to find individualized, tax-minimizing solutions to peoples' problems, especially when you have tricky assets like closely-held businesses to deal with. For an example of the type of creative solutions that these practitioners can come up with, see Walton v. CIR

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Re: Probate law/Estate planning

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:35 pm

You can actually make a ton of money doing probate where land values are high. Two percent fee of a $4 million estate is $80,000.




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