Lawyers Shifting from Estate-Planning to More Lucrative Practices

Large law firms around the country are moving away from estate-planning to focus on the more lucrative areas of litigation, corporation finance, mergers and acquisitions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this shift is happening for a number of reasons:

  • Delays — Some clients are waiting before drafting estate plans because of the uncertainty surrounding estate taxes.
  • Competition — Banks and financial planners are becoming more active in the estate-planning business by advising clients on planning strategies before turning them over to attorneys to draft documents.
  • Profits — Law firms are under pressure to boost their bottom lines, so less money is going to traditional trust and estate departments in favor of more profitable areas.

"If you look at a lot of the brand name Wall Street firms, they're not growing estate practices, not hiring and not making partners in these departments," said Jonathan B. Mills, chairman of Cummings & Lockwood, a law firm in Stamford, Conn.

The result is that clients seeking estate-planning services will now have to weigh their options a little more carefully, the Journal reported.

"Firms aren't necessarily losing money on [estate-planning] departments, but they're finding they can devote their resources to more profitable areas," said Dennis Belcher, past chairman of the real property, probate and trust law section of the American Bar Association.

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