Ian Watson is presently on sabbatical and is not accepting any work until further notice. He has practised in London since 1997 in the area of trusts, wills and estates and related US and UK taxation, especially in a cross-border context (primarily but not exclusively between the US and the UK). He specialises in personal and tax planning for high-net-worth individuals, families, fiduciaries and financial institutions in the US, the UK and internationally and advises on integrated US/UK estate and trust planning. His practice extends to advising on cross-border tax, reporting and compliance issues with respect to trusts outside the UK or US with beneficiaries or income subject to tax in those jurisdictions. He also advises on the UK tax treatment of US trusts, as well as the US “expatriation” rules applicable to those voluntarily losing their US citizenship or long-term “green cards.”

First admitted in 1993 to the Bar of the State of New York, where he practised at a leading US firm with an international private client practice, he still advises on both New York and Federal law and can often give an indication with respect to the law of other US states or make referrals as necessary for more formal advice on other states’ laws.

In 1997 he joined another leading US firm in London, and for several years before transferring to the Bar of England and Wales in 2005 he was also a solicitor and a partner in a leading international private client firm of solicitors and US attorneys. As a barrister and attorney, he now advises solicitors, foreign lawyers and other advisers as well as individual lay clients where appropriate on both US and UK private client issues with a cross-border element.

Ian Watson is also registered for “Public Access” and can accept instructions directly from lay clients, rather than being instructed by a solicitor, accountant, foreign lawyer other professional advisor, although some restrictions remain on who may instruct barristers and for what activities. This is most likely to be appropriate for individuals needing private client advice or drafting with respect to wills, trusts, tax or estate planning and who do not already have a professional advisor involved, though this will depend on individual circumstances. Please feel free to contact him through his clerks.

Professional membership

  • Chancery Bar Association
  • STEP (Cross-Border Estates Group committee member)
  • Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

Education and career

  • A.B. in Classics & Comparative Literature, Brown University, Providence, RI.
  • J.D. Columbia University, New York, NY.


French, some Italian


Past seminars & events

Ian lectures on all aspects of his practice both in Chambers and at venues around England and Wales (including his solicitors’ offices). Recent talks include:

Barristers & solicitors

American clients in particular may appreciate a brief explanation of the difference between barristers and solicitors. Continuing changes in the traditional relationship between the two branches of the legal profession, and the growing international nature of legal practice, have altered the landscape considerably, but important distinctions still apply, and a description of the traditional roles of the two branches is a good starting point to understanding how the Bar can serve not only solicitors but also American and foreign lawyers, as well as accountants and other intermediaries in the modern world.

Most people are aware of barristers’ role as trial lawyers. The other traditional role of the barrister is in giving expert opinions on specific areas of law. The Bar is a resource both for small firms of solicitors and for large City firms, as well as foreign lawyers and other advisors, who need highly specialised advice.