After completing his law degree, Alan Farrar spent two years working in a suburban practice before pursing a non-legal career in business for twenty years. He later returned to law and began working in estate planning and is now a sole practitioner in Melbourne. Alan spoke to Survive Law about his career and why he enjoys working in estate planning…
What attracted you to working in estate planning?
When I returned to the law and was involved in estate planning, I thought that it was something that any lawyer could do. After working in the field for a while it became obvious that this area of law has gone through a huge period of growth with people living longer, having more complex financial arrangements and more complex family arrangements. In the 1970’s finances and society were very orderly and lifespan was comparatively modest. Increased divorce rate, more complicated family structures, [and] increased life expectancy means that succession has become a lot more complicated today. It is also an area of law that involves a great deal of contact with a variety of different people – no two clients are the same.
What is the most rewarding part of working in this area of law?
This area of law is relatively new and so is constantly developing and expanding, which makes it an exciting area of law to work in. I also get a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction from dealing with the large variety of clients and the complexities that this area of law involves.
Why is the area of estate planning important for law students and lawyers to be aware of and have some knowledge of?
People are often so busy coping with the day to day that they forget to plan for the future or are reluctant to think about these issues. With family and financial arrangements becoming more complex and people living longer, decisions about who will manage their estate and powers of attorney are becoming more and more important. This area of law is relatively new, and is often not focused on but is becoming more relevant and important in today. Estate planning is very significant to everyone’s life and so should have a much bigger focus.
What advice would you give to law students or lawyers who are interested in working in this area?
Life experience is one of the most important attributes that a lawyer in this area can have, as it allows you to identify with your client. Younger clients will have different needs compared with older clients, who may not have to make guardianship or financial provision for their children. The ability to allow a client to discuss these important issues and to help them put in place effective and comprehensive plans for their families and dependents based on their individual needs is also very valuable.
Most importantly, my own career path shows that a career in law is not linear. You need to keep your mind open as you never know what you will end up doing and should be ready to accept any opportunities that come your way. When I was in law school, I never thought that I would end up doing what I am doing. The scope of what you can do with a law degree is extraordinary. However, I am incredibly happy with the work that I am doing and will be working in this field as long as I can.
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