Leveraging the Law to Become a "Great" Investor

Investing

I recently came across a question on Quora on whether there are certain areas of law that will prepare law students to become "great" investors.

The bottom line is that there isn't one single formula to become a great investor, just as there isn't one to become a great lawyer. You can look at several prominent hedge fund managers (like Paul Singer) who were attorneys specializing in distressed debt. Toby Carlisle, a prominent quantitative value investor, was a former M&A lawyer at a Big Law firm. Or you could look at Carson Block, a former lawyer who uses his legal skills to short fraudulent companies. I think it's awesome that there truly isn't one formula to achieve success.

Still, I think there are some courses that law students can take to get a head start should they want to later transition into investing. I’m thinking of accounting, corporate finance, bankruptcy, and mergers & acquisitions. Also, I'd recommend that law students see if they can take any finance courses at their university’s business school.

From my research and experience, I’ve noticed that many attorneys who become “great” investors start with some event-driven strategy, where they can leverage their prior legal experience into an esoteric strategy which is less competitive than traditional growth or value investing. So I’d maybe consider studying bankruptcy or M&A.

But still, there isn’t one distinct formula for becoming a “great” investor. An event-driven strategy may not suit your temperament (or you may even find it boring). That’s completely fine. I still think, however, that an accounting or corporate finance course will be useful, no matter your investing style.

if you’re interested in value investing (as I am), I really think the best way to become a great investor is by reading books, speaking with others, and through experience. Get started with the two foundational Benjamin Graham books: Security Analysis and The Intelligent Investor. Read Warren Buffett’s annual letters from Berkshire Hathaway. Then I would think about moving on to books by Joel Greenblatt (The Little Book That Beats The Market and You Can Be A Stock Market Genius) and Bruce Greenwald (Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond).