The blurred lines between accountancy and law firms

‘Private Client’ is a term used as a title of service lines by both accountancy and law firms. While it covers quite a large section of the services offered by both, the two worlds are seen as very different. For outsiders looking in, Private Client in an accountancy sense just means Personal Tax. Within law firms, it means Trusts, Wills and Probate. These stereotypes are something I hear a lot daily. Many people think that, just because they started their career in accountancy, they couldn’t look at jobs in law firms. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

In 2014, the ICAEW became a regulator of probate services. Accountancy firms could now apply to become registered providers of Probate. They could begin providing services that were once only available from a law firm. With this encroachment on their territory, a large portion of law firms are fighting back and offering Personal Tax services to their pre-existing clients.


Many accountancy firms have looked to add extra service lines. Such as offering Probate services. Some law firms have also started to offer Personal Tax returns to their existing clients. This means the lines between the two types of businesses are becoming more blurred within the Private Client space. You’re still probably better off getting your Wills and Trusts sorted by a law firm and your non-domiciled tax return completed at an accountancy firm. However, the Private Client teams in these firms often have professionals from both legal and accountancy backgrounds.

So, what does this mean for you? 

For many people that specialise in Private Clients, whether that be within law or accountancy, this is great news. With double the number of firms looking to offer their clients your skills, your options, when it comes time to look for a new role, have suddenly increased! The lines between the two sectors are becoming less black and white. Who knows what services each will be offering in the next 20 years?

The next time you see a role for a CTA-qualified Tax Manager, it may not be for an accountancy practice, it could well be for a law firm. And, a STEP qualified Private Client Manager could fit nicely within the Private Client team of many accountancy firms I work with daily.

If you’re interested in what options could be out there for you and would like a confidential chat, please feel free to get in contact with Harvey John.

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