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Lawyers in Finance

Financial Careers for Lawyers


Financial Careers for Lawyers: Because the financial services industry is highly regulated, lawyers have credentials that are greatly in demand. Accordingly, financial services can be a promising second career for lawyers and other people in the legal field who want a change of direction.

Producer Careers: Both financial advisors and financial planners pursue careers in which the law is a constant factor. For example, taxation and the laws governing trusts and estates are central issues in managing both personal and small business finances. Lawyers can add value. Note, however, that major financial services firms typically will not authorize you to offer anything remotely resembling legal advice, in which case you must be somewhat circumspect in using your legal expertise. Major firms generally make disclaimers that they do not give tax or legal advice, to limit their exposure to lawsuits from unhappy clients.

On the other hand, certain boutique financial services providers, especially those catering to wealthy individuals, actually do offer tax preparation, tax advice and trust formation among their services. Included among these providers are some trust companies and specialized small financial services firms commonly called family offices.

Lastly, depending on the laws in your state, it may be possible to offer a financial planning practice in conjunction with a law firm. If so, you could be a lawyer who decides to get certified as a financial planner, or who decides to hire one or more into your firm. Or, you may be a financial planner who either decides to add a law degree or to hire one or more lawyers into your firm, to expand its capabilities.

Support Careers: On the Support side of financial services, the most obvious area with a need for legal expertise is the one generally categorized as Compliance, Legal and Tax. Numerous jobs in this area, not surprisingly, require either a licensed practicing attorney, the holder of a law degree or a trained paralegal.

Additionally, many departments throughout a financial services firm must clear their work with legal counsel, either internal or external. For example, the text of all communications directed at clients or the general public, such as marketing brochures and advertisements, much pass a legal review. Having someone on staff with legal expertise can be invaluable, helping the department to anticipate what counsel will require, and thereby avoiding wasted effort. Finally, a background in the law can improve your future prospects for promotion into senior management.

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