Mutual Fund Lawyers
Education and Training Requirements
Recommended classes include English, speech, business, economics, accounting, mathematics, foreign language, government, computer science, history, psychology, and social studies. Participation in debate and business clubs will also be useful.
To become a lawyer, you’ll need to first earn a bachelor’s degree, then complete a law degree. Some law schools offer accelerated bachelor’s degree/juris doctor programs in which high academic–achieving undergrads who have completed three years of undergraduate study can matriculate to law school and cut their total time in school from seven years to six years.
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), “students are admitted to law school from almost every academic discipline. You may choose to major in subjects that are considered to be traditional preparation for law school, such as history, English, philosophy, political science, economics, or business, or you may focus your undergraduate studies in areas as diverse as art, music, science and mathematics, computer science, engineering, nursing, or education.”
Most law schools require that applicants take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The Law School Admission Council offers detailed information about preparing for and taking the LSAT at https://www.lsac.org.
More than 200 law schools in the U.S. are approved by the ABA. Law school graduates receive either a degree of juris doctor (J.D.) or a bachelor of laws (LL.B.).
Other Education or Training
Throughout their careers, lawyers must keep their skills up to date by participating in continuing education classes, webinars, and workshops that are provided by professional associations and their employers. For example, the ABA offers introductory-level programs that cover the basics of core practice areas. Recent offerings included Legal Research: Top Tips That Will Turbocharge Your Skills, Effective Communications in Today’s World: You Said WHAT?!, LinkedIn for Lawyers Reloaded, and Going to Trial: Practical Tips and Strategy. The ABA Young Lawyers Division provides career development webinars and videos such as Volunteering to Enhance Your Career and Millennial Lawyers: Improve Your Professionalism and Jumpstart Your Career. The Association of Corporate Counsel also provides continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.
Some lawyers choose to earn a master of laws (LL.M) degree, an advanced law certification that provides specialized training in areas such as banking and finance law, financial services, corporate law/corporate governance/corporate compliance, business law, labor and employment law, and regulatory compliance. A first law degree is required for admission to LL.M programs, which typically last one year. For information about LL.M specialties and the law schools that offer them, visit https://www.americanbar.org.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Attorneys must be admitted to the bar of the state where they want to practice. Applicants must graduate from an American Bar Association–approved law school and pass two examinations. The ABA provides an overview of the process at https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/bar_admissions/basic_overview.
A lawyer with significant compliance duties might consider earning the chartered regulatory counsel designation or the certified compliance officer credential from the Regulatory Compliance Association. Some attorneys earn financial-related certifications such as the chartered financial analyst credential, which is offered by the CFA Institute.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Legal associates need a minimum of three to five years of experience with a major law firm, securities regulator, bank, or broker/dealer. Chief legal officers need seven to 10 years of experience.
Strong written and oral communication skills, as well as a flair for negotiation, are key for success in this career. Attorneys frequently draft legal documents and interact with their colleagues, representatives of other law firms or mutual fund companies, and regulators. They must be good researchers and have excellent analytical, organizational, and problem-solving skills, confidence, the ability to multitask in a fast-paced work environment, and strong ethics. Finally, attorneys need to be proficient in the use of legal databases and office and collaborative software, as well as have comprehensive knowledge of Securities & Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, and state-level rules and regulations.