Wealth Management Lawyers
Education and Training Requirements
Lawyers must be excellent writers and oral communicators, so it’s important to take as many English and speech classes as possible. Joining the debate club will also be useful. Wealth management attorneys are experts in business and finance. To build your skills in these areas, take economics, accounting, business, finance, and mathematics courses. Foreign language classes will come in handy if you work for a firm that does business internationally. Other important classes include government, computer science, history, psychology, and social studies.
The American Bar Association (ABA) does not recommend any particular undergraduate majors to prepare for law school. It reports that “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 http://www.lsac.org.
The ABA has approved more than 200 law schools in the United States. Law school graduates receive either a degree of juris doctor (J.D.) or a bachelor of laws (LL.B.). Some law schools offer classes in family wealth management or related areas.
Other Education or Training
Continuing education classes, seminars, and webinars that are offered by professional associations provide lawyers with an excellent way to keep their skills up to date. For example, the ABA Young Lawyers Division provides career development videos and webinars such as Presentation Skills for Attorneys: The Top Three Things you Need to Know, Protecting Your Client's Intellectual Property: What Every Lawyer Needs to Know, and Ethics 101: Ethical Issues for the New Practitioner. The Association of Corporate Counsel provides in-person and online continuing education. Topics include ethics, litigation, compliance, contract negotiation, and basic practice skills. Contact these organizations for more information.
Some attorneys choose to earn a master of laws (LL.M) degree, an advanced law certification that provides specialized information on topics such as banking and finance law, business law, corporate law/corporate governance/corporate compliance, and regulatory compliance. A first law degree is required for admission to LL.M programs, which typically last one year. For a list of LL.M specialties and the law schools that offer them, visit https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/accreditation.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Lawyers 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 a written examination. The ABA provides an overview of the process at https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/bar_admissions/basic_overview.
A lawyer who has extensive compliance responsibilities might consider earning the chartered regulatory counsel designation from the Regulatory Compliance Association. Attorneys might also want to earn financial-related certifications such as the certified financial planner credential (which is offered by the CFP Board) and the chartered financial consultant designation (American College of Financial Services).
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Wealth management associates need a minimum of three to five years of experience with a major law firm, bank, securities regulator, or broker/dealer. Chief legal officers need seven to 10 years of experience.
Successful wealth management lawyers should have excellent problem-solving and analytical skills, confidence, the ability to multitask in a fast-paced work environment, keen business/legal judgment, strong communication skills, and organizational and problem-solving ability.