What Jobs In Finance Can You Obtain With A Law Degree?

Finance

I recently saw a Quora question that asked for examples of jobs that attorneys can find in the financial services industry.

There are some stereotypical examples. For example, private practice attorneys can become in-house attorneys working at a large bank (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc.) and assisting the bank with any and all issues, like compliance or employment issues. Or these attorneys could work on compliance issues at a hedge fund or private equity firm. 

With these basic examples in mind, I do have some insights on the odds of finding these positions after graduating law school.

Unless they’ve graduated with a JD/MBA, I’ve found it difficult for law students to find jobs in finance immediately after graduation. The traditional law school pipeline involves grads working in private practice, government, or doing some other type of public interest work.

When speaking about “finance jobs,” I suppose we have to distinguish between legal and non-legal positions.

As for legal positions, it’s very difficult to immediately work in-house at any corporation, including financial institutions. Those positions often go to attorneys who have gained several years of experience in private practice—mostly at “Big Law” firms. There are exceptions, but you may need personal connections or some other “in” to start your legal career at a financial institution. This is difficult to find.

The world of non-legal positions in finance may also be difficult. I do recall that Goldman visited my law school and held information sessions on openings in its private wealth management program. Although it’s not strictly “finance,” McKinsey also visited to recruit potential consultants. These opportunities are few and they seem to be positively correlated with the “prestige” of your law school.

But if you’re hoping to use your law degree to trade or become a professional investor, you’re better off getting an MBA. Sure, there are attorneys that have transitioned into full-time investors—Paul Singer and Carson Block to name a few. But again, this is rare.