How difficult is it to get into estate planning?

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How difficult is it to get into estate planning?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:11 am

I have an SA with a firm that is heavily litigation-based. I really don't see myself practicing in their area (defense) permanently. I am mildly interested in it but my real interest is in wills, trusts, and estate planning.

My question is how tough is it to break into this area? I am interested to hear about anyone's experience in focusing on estate planning, how they got a job in the area, etc. What is it like to practice estate planning in a small firm versus a mid-sized firm? Any tips on how to market yourself to mid-sized firms for this practice? Unfortunately, the ship has sailed for 2L summer so how can I market myself next year as a 3L on the job market?

smallfirmassociate

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Re: How difficult is it to get into estate planning?

Postby smallfirmassociate » Tue Feb 07, 2017 5:11 pm

It takes a long time to build up a solid book in the field. There aren't any barriers per se, but estate planning is as much an art as a science. It generally takes years to get good at all of the aspects, including trust drafting, tax advice, and the various issues that arise in the contexts of probate and elder law (competency, will challenges, undue influence, fraud, etc.).

Unless someone retires and hands you a good book, it's not really something you just decide to do one day and proceed to bill out $300k that year. You slowly build up clients over decades.

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Re: How difficult is it to get into estate planning?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:34 pm

smallfirmassociate wrote:It takes a long time to build up a solid book in the field. There aren't any barriers per se, but estate planning is as much an art as a science. It generally takes years to get good at all of the aspects, including trust drafting, tax advice, and the various issues that arise in the contexts of probate and elder law (competency, will challenges, undue influence, fraud, etc.).

Unless someone retires and hands you a good book, it's not really something you just decide to do one day and proceed to bill out $300k that year. You slowly build up clients over decades.

Thanks for your input. Can you speak to what it's like to join a law firm (small or not) that specializes in estate planning or what life is like as an attorney specializing in estate planning? I'm not really looking to open my own practice right after graduation or anything, but some day I would love to (far, far down the road).

SFSpartan

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Re: How difficult is it to get into estate planning?

Postby SFSpartan » Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:52 pm

There are a few estate planning attorneys at my midlaw firm, and they seem to have pretty stable hours, good work-like balance, etc. That said, their existence in our firm is probably cyclical, as they tend to be here mainly to support the executives of our emerging companies and transactional real estate clients after big deals/exits. If the economy tanks, I'm betting they'll be among the first to go.

More generally, though, I'd think that this would be a relatively difficult area to break into, as estate planning work is mostly done by small firms that don't hire with regularity.

RaceJudicata

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Re: How difficult is it to get into estate planning?

Postby RaceJudicata » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:33 pm

Look into McDermott Will emery. They (and I'm sure other firms - this is just one I'm familiar with) have a "Private Client" group. Essentially wills, trusts, estates, etc for super high net worth individuals, family office, etc.

CanadianWolf

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Re: How difficult is it to get into estate planning?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:56 am

Banks & insurance companies also hire for this practice area. Easy hours, low pressure, commensurate pay.

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