JD jobs in a bank/finance?

Hello everyone. :)

What are some jobs that a JD could do for a bank or for a financial regulatory organization/firm/body/entity? Entry level with an eye towards working your way up over time. I am most specifically interested in compliance with the goal of going into BigLaw or BigFed after years of experience for white collar/economic crimes.

Also, does clerking assist with these types of jobs?

Thanks all!

Comments

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited February 2018 23929 karma

    There are a ton of different jobs one can do at a commercial bank, investment bank, and financial regulatory organizations for the gov't. A typical career path to a bank would look like this: Big law doing general corporate/capital markets/PE/corporate governance ----> In-house counsel at bank. Generally you would go from big law and make the move to what you want to do next.

    Most compliance jobs at banks are generally JD-advantage jobs. Most people where I work who do compliance do not have JDs. Having a JD makes it easier to move up to a VP level and you make a bit more money. However, once you spend any amount of time in compliance, your chances of working in big law (or law generally) become effectively nil since the skillsets/jobs are completely different. Employers often see compliance JDs as defective lawyers. It's a scarlet letter on your resume to have done compliance in many cases if you wish to return to private practice. This is usually because most JDs who end up working in compliance don't do so out of choice. However, where you work doing compliance matters. A lot.

    Federal clerkships would certainly help with the Big Fed/Big Law route.

    It's hard to give anymore of a specific answer without knowing specifically what roles you're interested in. Check out a site like investopedia/linkedin and see the different practice areas JDs work in at banks.

  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    3788 karma

    Hey @Alex . I was also curious how much background in finance you need to get a JD related job in Finance. If our experience is nil, could we compensate through self study or perhaps taking relevant business courses during law school

    @Alex said:
    There are a ton of different jobs one can do at a commercial bank, investment bank, and financial regulatory organizations for the gov't. A typical career path to a bank would look like this: Big law doing general corporate/capital markets/PE/corporate governance ----> In-house counsel at bank. Generally you would go from big law and make the move to what you want to do next.

    Most compliance jobs at banks are generally JD-advantage jobs. Most people where I work who do compliance do not have JDs. Having a JD makes it easier to move up to a VP level and you make a bit more money. However, once you spend any amount of time in compliance, your chances of working in big law (or law generally) become effectively nil since the skillsets/jobs are completely different. Employers often see compliance JDs as defective lawyers. It's a scarlet letter on your resume to have done compliance in many cases if you wish to return to private practice. This is usually because most JDs who end up working in compliance don't do so out of choice.

    Federal clerkships would certainly help with the Big Fed/Big Law route.

    It's hard to give anymore of a specific answer without knowing specifically what roles you're interested in. Check out a site like investopedia and the different practice areas JDs do at banks.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited February 2018 23929 karma

    Hey @westcoastbestcoast ,

    Usually a couple years as an associate/analyst is a solid amount of experience. Beyond that, 3-5 years as an attorney doing the type of work you're interested in.

    Although it entirely depends on the job and where you want to work. So a JD doing regulatory/compliance work will have different requirements than doing bankruptcy and restructuring (one of the most common places lawyers work in finance), which will be different from structured finance.

    If you want to work in finance, for many roles you'll need prior experience. If you have no prior experience (WE/finance/economics degree) it can be tough to get a job in finance with just a law degree. You'll likely need to work at a firm doing finance related work for 3-5 years before you can be competitive for finance heavy roles. So when I say you need experience, I'm talking like if you want to graduate from law school and go straight into these types of jobs.

    Something else I've noticed is that beyond experience, pedigree matters just as much in finance. Finance is more prestige driven than law in many ways. So, in finance, employers often care a lot about where your experience comes from (education, what shops you've worked at, what deals you worked on, etc). An associate from WLRK will have different jobs open to her than someone who worked at Jones Day.

    ETA:

    If our experience is nil, could we compensate through self study or perhaps taking relevant business courses during law school

    Oops. I didn't answer this part.

    Again, it would depend on the job you're looking at doing. Some roles will require only post-law school experience. I'm actually not too sure of the self-study route. I think solid credentials are pretty important. Taking business related courses during law school could help, but employers won't really care about what courses you took in law school once you're several years out and applying to these jobs.

  • PositivePositive Alum Member
    426 karma

    @Alex Hi Alex! Thank you very much for your insightful advice! One quick question: if you have no prior finance experience before Law school, but would like to make a transition into finance industry(i.g., IB/PE in-house) after working few years from big law in a related practice, will passing "CFA" exams be helpful in any way? Thank you once again for your help : )

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited February 2018 23929 karma

    @"Kings Never Die" said:
    @Alex Hi Alex! Thank you very much for your insightful advice! One quick question: if you have no prior finance experience before Law school, but would like to make a transition into finance industry(i.g., IB/PE in-house) after working few years from big law in a related practice, will passing "CFA" exams be helpful in any way? Thank you once again for your help : )

    No problem! :)

    What position would you be looking to do at in IB/PE? Would you still want to be in a strictly legal role? Or, are you looking to lateral into banking as an associate?

    If the former, having a CFA would probably help since it will ensure you have the important financial knowledge that is required in some of these roles. Just to be clear, I'm sort of guessing here. I just can't imagine how it wouldn't at least give you a leg up on others who didn't have a CFA? But perhaps it's that they wouldn't really care at all since it is primarily a legal role. I would check out WallStreet Oasis and see what people with more experience in hiring would have to say.

    More importantly, though, would be your actual work experience. If you want to be an assistant general counsel or something in-house at a middle-market firm, you'll certainly want a background doing something M&A/PE/Title IV related for at least 3-5 years at a big firm. That seems to be the most common path to these types of jobs. You can check out some bios on websites and linkedin and get a better feel for what types of credentials someone with the job you're interested generally has.

    If the latter, you'd need an MBA. There's really no path from being a corporate lawyer to an actual investment banker in 2018. From my understanding, that is something that was more common 25-30 years ago before MBA degrees were taken as seriously.

  • Aspiring1LAspiring1L Alum Member
    159 karma

    @a.l.defalco I currently work for a community bank as a Compliance Analyst in Queens, NY. Everyday I get to work with the Compliance Officer, who's a practicing attorney, and the Bank Counsel. I've been working in Bank Compliance for almost 4 years, and it's Bank Compliance that affirmed my decision in wanting to pursue law school and ultimately become an attorney. I have no interest in working in Compliance, but Compliance has been a great start in terms of legal researching, legal interpretation, policy drafting, meeting and arguing with regulatory examiners, etc. When it comes to working in Bank Compliance, big banks now tend to hire Compliance Professionals with the CRCM certification as oppose to hiring attorneys. Big banks face more regulations than smaller banks, such as my community bank for example, and so they will hire a team of Compliance Professionals with this certification. This is more cost effective in terms of wages; I've been offered yearly salaries ranging from $65K-$90K at several big banks. But I choose to work at this community bank for a good salary since I'm close with the Compliance Officer and I have more access to the Bank than I would at a big bank. As for smaller/community banks, 9 times out of 10 they will have one person running the Compliance Department and that's the Compliance Officer/Manager. 9 times out of 10, this person is a practicing attorney. The workload would be too much for a single Compliance Professional, and a team of Compliance Professionals would be out of the question; a smaller/community bank won't utilize more resources than it needs to. FYI, working in Compliance is very high-risk. If a regulator finds any exceptions deemed critical and your bank is subject to regulatory scrutiny, you may be terminated. The likelihood of finding employment in Compliance with that on your track record is slim.You can also work as a Closing attorney, foreclosure attorney, or title attorney.

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