Private client lawyers are essential to the very wealthy, since they are able to deftly address the various wealth planning needs and wants of the affluent. Their services are also essential when it comes to transferring clients’ wealth across generations, including clients’ business interests and other assets.

Elite Private Client Lawyers
To better understand this cohort and the potential they provide other professionals, we surveyed 148 lawyers using the following criteria:

All had to be practitioners in law firms.

All had to have at least one single-family-office client.

All had to deliver succession planning and related support to clients worth a minimum of $30 million.

All had an annual compensation of $1 million or more annually for each of the last three years.

Generally speaking, private client lawyers are specialists in the field of tax and related planning services. In our survey, they were professionals with very wealthy clients and offered planning services including estate planning, asset protection planning, income tax planning, cross-border and international tax and related planning, business planning for business owners and the development of charitable giving programs.

These lawyers also offered broad-based personal and business advice incorporating legal considerations. They furthermore offered administrative services tied to these planning offerings, as well as opinion letters and services such as due diligence on selected tax strategies.

About a quarter of the elite private client lawyers in our survey were based in North America (Figure 1). Slightly fewer came from Europe. The primary jurisdiction for a fifth of them was in Asia. South American lawyers represented 17%, and the remaining number, nearly 14%, came from jurisdictions that offer tax advantages—including the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Mauritius.

When we considered the attorney’s compensation of $1 million or more for three years, we included the lawyer’s salary, equity participation and any other payments such as bonuses. We did not include any other benefits.

Overall, the average compensation in the most recent year among those we surveyed was $1.5 million and the median was $1.4 million (Figure 2). The compensation ranged from $1.0 million to $3.6 million. The most well compensated private client lawyers are in tax-advantaged jurisdictions. The least well compensated are in Europe.

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