60-second interview with Patricia Wass 2019

Patricia Wass, 5/8/2019

Patricia Wass TEP is a Consultant Solicitor at Enable Law in Plymouth.

What does your firm or organisation do?

Enable Law is a specialist mental capacity, personal injury and clinical negligence law firm, and a sister organisation to Foot Anstey. Geographically, we are based in the south west of England, but we have clients all over England, Wales and further afield.

What has STEP done for you, individually, or as a business?

STEP has helped me develop my technical expertise and knowledge of my practice area over many years. The Employer Partnership Programme has helped strengthen the recognition of STEP throughout my firm. In addition, serving as STEP Worldwide Chair, and also as a member of Council and a Director on the STEP Board, gave me many opportunities to meet and network with like-minded individuals across the world.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

I would say STEP provides a benchmark qualification for the private client sector and ensures that practitioners across the world adhere to common professional standards.

You will be speaking at the UK Tax, Trusts & Estates Conference 2019 this autumn. What will you be speaking on and what are the main issues?

I will be sharing the event with my colleague, Holly Mieville-Hawkins TEP. We will be speaking about vulnerable clients, both those with and without mental capacity issues, and providing practitioners with information about tax, trusts and Court of Protection law and practice.

What do you most like about your job?

What I most like is getting to know my clients; I spend time with some amazing families. I also much appreciate having the support of colleagues in the mental capacity team at my firm. I feel very privileged to be providing legal assistance to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?

In my view, making decisions that can have a positive effect on the life of another person. The father of one of my clients told me I had changed his son's life for the better. That’s what makes it worthwhile.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?

Private client law is an amazing career choice. It covers all aspects of a client's life, from cradle to grave. It is not just about tax – there are so many interesting and diverse areas to challenge and engage you. Having now practised for nearly 35 years it has been a privilege to have become that ‘trusted advisor’ to many of my clients. In some cases I’m now looking after the third generation of the family.

Which sectors are likely to see the strongest future growth, do you think?

With an increasing elderly demographic across the world, I am sure we will see significant growth in elderly and mental capacity law.

What about jurisdictions?

I envisage China having a growing impact in the world, and Dubai developing further as a major financial centre. The increased wealth of individuals in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Middle Eastern countries will have an impact on strong future growth.

What trends do you see in the global private wealth sector at the moment?

The effects of Artificial Intelligence will inevitably have an effect. The development of cryptocurrencies, and their treatment as part of a person's estate alongside other digital assets will need to be understood.

Private client practitioners are likely to face further regulation and compliance as banks continue to de-risk. I would note, though, that tax authorities’ apparently insatiable appetite for obtaining information on taxpayers does need to be balanced with a person's right to privacy, and this right seems to be increasingly undermined.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing practitioners at the moment, and how will you deal with them?

The continued undermining of the solicitor ‘brand’ and the public’s perception that legal advice is not worth paying for when ‘answers’ can be found online. I think the public will expect to move away from a time-based billing system and will expect to negotiate fixed fees as the norm for the work we are asked to do. It’s necessary to embrace the digital world and ensure that practitioners keep up-to-date with technological changes.

Which social media channels do you use?

I’m on LinkedIn.

Patricia Wass TEP is a Consultant Solicitor at Enable Law, specialising in mental capacity law. She acts as Deputy for the Court of Protection and is recognised as a top-ranked 'Leader in her Field' by Chambers UK Legal Directory. She is the immediate past chair of STEP Worldwide.