Wealth Management

Awards Edition 21'

International Law


John Heath

As a young attorney, I worked in a boutique law firm. Many of the firm’s clients had both significant personal and business wealth for which they were responsible. These clients trusted us to accurately advise them in areas as diverse as taxation, business regulations and estate planning.

Now, I work in a firm that provides pieces of advice to a wide range of clients, many of whom find themselves in more modest financial circumstances. My practice now ranges from basic budgeting, how to pay one’s bills or obligations on time, how to maintain a positive credit rating, which is important for prospective employers and business opportunities. Also, how to challenge items on credit reports that are unfair, accurate or substantiated.

While the economic backgrounds of the clientele of these firms are wildly different, the practice is very similar. It is the practice of helping clients manage their personal and business wealth. Specifically, it is the practice of properly advising these clients regardless of their economic backgrounds.

We live in a complex business and regulatory environment. This environment demands that we provide sophisticated pieces of advice to our clients in relation to tax planning, business management, real estate management, marketable as well as non-marketable investments, testamentary planning, transfers and philanthropic giving. Internationally, this environment consists of a patchwork of law, regulation, and tradition that can be challenging for even the most experienced attorneys. In order to accurately advise clients at the right place and the right time, we as attorneys must have the requisite training, skill and judgment to provide appropriate pieces of advice to our clients.

There are several suitable resources for this type of training. Though broad based, the American University in Cairo offers a master’s degree in Comparative and International Law. This program offers courses in international economic law and business regulation. Both courses would be very helpful to train an attorney in some of the analytical thinking required in the client wealth management practice area.

Another excellent resource is provided through the American Bar Association (ABA) through their Business Law Section, Real Property Section, Trust and Estate Law Section and the International Law Section. All three sections provide training opportunities and resources that are helpful in equipping attorneys with the knowledge to advise their client in the wealth management practice area. These sections also provide access to experienced attorneys who may be willing to guide less experienced attorneys.

Furthermore, you may be able to obtain advice from practitioners who practice locally in this area. Here, reputation is important. You should seek out an attorney who is respected by his or her peers, regulatory authorities, the judiciary and most importantly, an attorney that you know is not only qualified to advise you regarding this practice area. Although it can be somewhat daunting to reach out to an experienced and respected attorney, it can also turn out to be very rewarding. Many times, experienced and respected attorneys are willing to share tips and training in their respective practice areas in order to improve the practice of law in that specific area.

Additionally, it is important to note that while attorneys provide some excellent advice and services to their clients, many times, the same attorneys neglect their own wealth management. The old adage “physician heal thyself” though from a different profession, is applicable here too. An attorney’s neglect to their own personal and business wealth management can often turn into a distraction taking away from that attorney’s clients.