Tell Citywealth’s readers about your role.
I am a partner in the Private Wealth Department of Katten Muchin Rosenman and head its New York Private Wealth group. My practice is quite diversified as I represent clients for pre- and post-mortem gift and estate planning, estate and trust administration and estate and trust controversies. My practice also embraces not-for-profit advice, which includes formation of public charities and private foundations, good governance documents, donor agreements and issues surrounding merger and dissolution of such entities.
What does it mean for you to be one of the Powerwomen 2022 winners?
I am very honored to have been selected as a Bronze finalist in the Powerwomen 2022 mentoring category. This recognition holds special meaning to me as I find it rewarding to teach my younger colleagues aspects of my chosen area of law, offer them empowering and engaging opportunities, and see them develop and advance in their careers. Having worked throughout the time I raised my children, I also share my perspective and experience on managing the balancing act between a demanding career and family life. I think it is so important to lend an ear, give meaningful feedback and, in general, be as supportive of each individual as possible so they can achieve success.
Talk us through one of your most recent client cases.
In one of my matters, I have become the personal lawyer for a well-known figure in the entertainment industry. This representation is multi-faceted and includes: personal estate planning involving international tax considerations, restructuring of the governance documents among the members of his band, publicity and image protections, advice on personal tax audit and review of licensing agreements to promote and market intellectual property. My role with the client has expanded over the years as his personal trust and faith in me has grown and I can honestly say that I have become his “consigliere” for the many issues that develop on a seemingly daily basis. To help with the many needs, I am grateful for the support of my colleagues who provide assistance in international tax matters, entertainment and corporate law and intellectual and copyright law.
What are the most important skills and personal qualities for a lawyer specialised in Estate Planning?
Beyond the obvious need for excellent technical skills, an estate planning attorney should provide superior client service. They should be empathetic and responsive, listen attentively and communicate clearly. I have found those skills and qualities to be valuable given that the nature of my practice enables me to know my clients on a very personal level, and I am deeply invested in those meaningful relationships.
Are your clients behaving differently in the present era?
During this period of COVID, clients have come to appreciate and recognize the fragility of life and are moving forward at a more rapid pace to ensure that their testamentary documents are in place to protect their loved ones. In addition, as every tax lawyer knows, there is no such thing as a permanent tax law and this past year has brought its challenges as both estate planners, such as myself, and clients grapple with potential changes in the estate, gift and income tax area and attend to timely planning, mindful of any potential changes.
Best and worst parts of your job.
What I enjoy about my role is the opportunity to guide associates and junior partners to reach the next step of their careers, as well as the personal interaction with clients and the satisfaction I get in providing assistance and support to families, often during emotional times. This can also be challenging as life does bring its ups and downs but the one thing I have gotten out of what I do is to appreciate what you do and count each day as a blessing.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given?
Treat everyone with courtesy and respect as it is, generally, reciprocated tenfold.
Ronni Davidowitz is a member of our Leaders List.