Private client management and marketing: Business plans, recruitment, assessments and automation

It was good to meet the private client lawyers – some recently promoted to head of department – for a workshop on “Managing and growing your private client practice” earlier this month. This post summarises the key themes discussed, provides an additional learning resource for the delegates and includes further information – as promised – to some of the questions posed by delegates. Private client management and marketing: Business plans, recruitment, assessments and automation.

Core challenges for private client law leaders

The core challenges identified throughout the day were the interlinked topics of business plans, recruitment, assessments and automation.

Business planning

Surprisingly, none of the delegates’ firms had a business plan to drive the growth of the private client team. And 90% didn’t have a marketing plan for private client. Developing a business plan was seen as a priority for those who were new in leadership roles in their firms as well as established leaders looking to drive development and growth (see delegate top takeaways below). One delegate’s firm had recently merged and integration was a priority.

We spent some time on mission and value statements (looking at examples from other private client teams) – and how they are formed through analysis and discussion with stakeholders. Two tools were provided to assist with this. The need to include purpose (i.e. ESG) principles was especially important for younger generations.

This post summarises the reasons why you need a business plan and what should be included Why do you need a business plan? 10 reasons why ( And this one looks at some common business plan problems Improving quality and effectiveness of your partnership business plan ( This American book talks you through the strategy development process for a fictious law firm become the firm of choice – strategy development (

One delegate asked for business plan templates – and the post I just mentioned explains why templates are not always a good idea. However, I aim to please so these resources might help:

(Naturally, if you’d like assistance in conducting the analyses to support business planning and strategy development or in facilitating strategy and planning workshops for your partners or teams, please don’t hesitate to give me a call).

Recruitment of private client lawyers

A core challenge facing many of the delegates’ practices was recruitment. This was the same in February Manage and grow your private client practice – Recruitment, Performance (

We looked at the importance of addressing capacity planning (manage your talent pipeline) and recruitment in a structured and long-term way as part of an overall human resources strategy. Issues of recruitment are often linked to organisational culture, training and development and HR policies and procedures.

Top tips for recruitment include:

  1. Shape your overall HR strategy to support your firm’s ambitions
  2. Ensure your recruitment process is flexible and fast
  3. Create an accurate and exciting job description
  4. Benchmark salaries and (innovative) benefit packages
  5. Develop processes to consider encouraging employee referrals
  6. Explore non-traditional recruitment channels and methods (e.g. apprentices, social media)
  7. Monitor recruitment metrics to focus and refine your campaigns
  8. Sell your firm and the learning/career opportunities
  9. Act proactively if you find strong candidates for whom there is no current position
  10. Take care of biases if you use AI to help filter applications
  11. Use trusted specialist recruitment/headhunting consultancies
  12. Ensure your onboarding process is up to the job

Future candidates will be keen to know the mission and vision (as part of the business plan – see above). We talked about the importance of employer brands too (Employer Value Proposition – EVP – at DAC Beachcroft is described in this post  PM Conference Report 2022: Strategy implementation (

Other sources of information about private client lawyer recruitment are:

Recruitment was also linked to another key issue for private client teams – automation. Using technology to remove routine processes which frees up lawyers to spend more time in client and referrer relationship management and high value advisory work.  Delegation was another topic discussed with recruitment and learning and development.

Assessment of private client lawyers

I was asked about the value of assessments in the recruitment process. Despite being a accredited provider of the British Psychological Society’s NEO “Big Five” (sometimes called OCEAN – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism) personality assessment. I have mixed views on their value in the recruitment process for professional practices.

My main reservations are around what firms are trying to learn from assessments and how they will use them. Do they know what profiles or attributes they are particularly keen to recruit or avoid? This suggests that you will need to have completed assessments of your successful employees to develop ideal profiles. However, I do use a number of assessment tools in my coaching and development work.

An important assessment that I use a lot is for Emotional Intelligence (EQ). EQ covers a lot of the important abilities people need to support good communications and relationships. Furthermore, whereas personality is fairly fixed we can improve our emotional intelligence. There’s an introductory video on empathy and emotional intelligence  – and there is a book by a psychiatrist that comes with an online EQ assessment tool Book review – Emotional Intelligence 2.0 ( There is also a post on emotional intelligence and leadership Research on leadership and emotional intelligence (EQ) (

You might also be interested in my 2020 book Essential soft skills for lawyers (

If assessment tools are used you should stick with those that are highly regarded for their validity and reliability and use qualified people to support their use. Amongst professional practices, the assessment tools I have found to be most commonly used include:

I have written posts about other assessment tools:

Process automation for private client lawyers

A key challenge for some of the delegates was deciding what automation to introduce. Automation might also be a solution where there are recruitment issues – to do more work with less or the same number of people. And to ensure that any new systems were adopted by employees and embedded in day to day practice to ensure consistency of service.

The Law Society provides some helpful information on automation (LawTech), for example

And there are some leaders in legal automation with helpful advice:

However, choosing the right technology can be the least of your concerns. We explored concepts from change management, project management and employee engagement to ensure new technology is implemented and adopted:

Other challenges for private client leaders


With so many delegates taking on a leadership position for the first time there was a natural interest in this area. We considered the task versus relationship model and more recent developments. Interestingly, the delegates were focused on the relationship aspects of leadership (consistency, leading by example, supportive, encouraging and creating a positive environment and culture).

On the task aspects, it’s worth remembering the five questions every leader should ask (Peter Drucker About Peter Drucker * Drucker Institute):

  1. What is your mission?
  2. Who is your customer?
  3. What does your customer value?
  4. What results do you seek?
  5. What is your plan?

Some key posts on leadership:

Trends observed

The trends observed most by delegates:

  • Consolidation through mergers and acquisitions
  • Increased competition
  • Alternative business structures and online offerings
  • Cost of living crisis affecting clients’ willingness to pay
  • Many threats identified not least AI

During the session we looked at the need for more analysis of the external environment, future changes and taking a “helicopter” view. Horizon scanning, weak signal detection and strategic, market and competitor analyses are key here.

Business development

All delegates had strategies that focused equally on generating new clients and developing existing clients. 67% felt that marketing (generating enquiries) and 33% felt that existing client development was the area requiring most attention.

17% had plans to introduce new private client services and 67% had plans to develop new markets.

The main observation about pricing in the market was the need for fixed fee proposals.

67% felt that social media was reasonably effectiveness and 33% didn’t know whether it was effective or not. This suggests that marketing, business development and social media strategies should be reviewed. Social media use amongst firms varied:

  • 83% LinkedIn
  • 50% Blogs
  • 50% Facebook
  • 50% Instagram

One delegate asked for information on the various marketing and business development strategies suitable for private client lawyers – we discussed several of these: Strategies for developing a private client practice – Business development (

Delegate views of the most valuable ideas from the session

Kim’s other MBL workshops can be seen here SpeakerKim Tasso ( and her other training and coaching services  Kim Tasso Coaching and Training. The next Private Client seminar is on 16th May 2024

Selected delegate poll results

How many partners in your private client team?

  • 75% 6 – 10 partners
  • 25% 2 – 5 partners

How many offices do you have private client services?

  • 75% 2 – 5 offices
  • 25% Just one

Which private client services do you provide?

  • 100% Wills
  • 100% Trusts
  • 100% Probate
  • 100% Tax and Estate planning
  • 75% Elderly support
  • 75% Court of Protection
  • 75% Private client disputes

Topic of most interest to you today?

  • 40% Operational management
  • 20% Vision and leadership
  • 20% Developing a business plan
  • 20% Strategic marketing

Is your business/marketing planning based o:

  • 60% Departments
  • 40% Markets (sectors and niches)

What professional marketing/BD support do you have?

  • 50% External marketing/PR agencies
  • 33% Inhouse marketing/business development team for the firm
  • 17% None – we do it all ourselves

Related private client posts

Manage and grow your private client practice – Recruitment, Performance ( February 2023

Eight management questions from private client lawyers ( April 2022

Strategies for developing a private client practice – Business development ( September 2021

Managing and growing your private client practice (January 2021) ( January 2021

Key takeaways from “How to manage and grow your private client practice” ( December 2020

developing more private client work ( December 2019

developing a private client practice ( June 2016

marketing professional services to high net worth clients ( August 2010