Meet the Private Client Team with Paul Nickalls

What is your role in the private client team and how long have you been at Sintons?

I am a Partner in Sintons and head of our specialist wills and probate team. I joined the firm in December 2014.

Tell us about your career to date…

I went to university in Norwich, spending one year in Holland as part of my course, and then completed by training contract back in Norfolk. I am from the North East and returned to my home region to take a role in a law firm here. I have been a private client specialist lawyer for over 20 years now and have held senior roles in two nationally and internationally-renowned law firms, Womble Bond Dickinson and DWF.

What attracted you to Sintons?

Sintons is a Newcastle firm which primarily works with North East people, they are very committed to this region and have a very strong client base here. Significantly, Sintons has always been dedicated to developing its private client offering at a time when other firms were scaling back their teams, or even abandoning that service altogether. Sintons has a rare mix of being big enough to do the most sizeable and complex cases properly, while still being small enough to care about each client’s particular needs and concerns.

What does your role involve?

As head of the wills and probate team at Sintons, I am responsible for the supervision and development of everyone within the team, particularly the more junior members. We have recruited continually throughout my time here and have some people who are still quite new to the team, so it is great to see everyone supporting the newer people and to help them develop and thrive.

I also lead the business development work of our team and oversee our strategy for growth. We have a very strong profile and network regionally and beyond but we are always looking to increase this further.

In addition to my role in leading the team, I am also heavily involved in client work and handle the full spectrum of private client matters including wills, trusts, administration of estates and Court of Protection matters. I am a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and sit on their regional committee and am also a full accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly.

What have been your personal highlights to date?

My aim when I joined Sintons was to preserve all that was good about the private client team – the outstanding reputation, unrivalled personal service, legal excellence – but to bring in fresh new talent to help strengthen it even further. It is a real highlight for me that I think we have achieved that. We have a genuinely excellent team with first class lawyers who go above and beyond what is expected of them every day for their clients. We are now rated as one of the leading specialist private client teams in the North of England by the Legal 500 and we have once again been shortlisted for the Private Client Team of the Year at the Northern Law Awards 2019, which confirms the progress we have made and indeed continue to make.

The private client team is one of the most highly-rated in the North of England. What are the advantages of being part of it?

We are renowned for the quality of legal advice and personal service we offer, but I think a really distinctive feature about Sintons is our team – we are very dynamic and committed, and absolutely focused on delivering what our clients want and need. We offer a wide range of services and have expertise across the board, and this is a place where lawyers of all stages of their careers can come and still learn new things.

How does Sintons differ from other firms you have worked in?

The fact that Sintons is a full service firm operating from one single site is a definite advantage and aids close cross-departmental working. Our departments work very closely – closer than in any other firm I have worked in previously – and it helps that experts in other areas of law are always on-hand if you need to refer anything. While this is quite a sizeable firm in terms of the number of lawyers we have here, with many recognised as leaders in their fields, Sintons is still of a size where everyone knows each other and we have a friendly and co-operative working environment.

What are your interests outside of work?

My main love is travel and I have been to some fabulous places – last year I went on safari in Tanzania, this year I’m going to Jordan, so I’m ticking quite a few must visit destinations off the bucket list. Aside from travelling, whenever I have the opportunity, I also love going to the theatre, watching films, reading books – and I remain a reluctant gym goer!

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