How Do I Become a Securities Lawyer?

K. Kinsella

A securities lawyer is employed by both investment firms and regulatory agencies and is responsible for handling legal issues related to financial transactions and securities trades. Someone wishing to become a securities lawyer must graduate from college and law school. Additionally, some employers require applicants to have prior experience working in the securities industry.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Those wishing to become a securities lawyer must successfully graduate from high school and complete an undergraduate college degree. In some countries, prospective attorneys must complete law degrees while in other countries these individuals can complete a degree in any topic before enrolling in law school. Since attorneys are relatively well compensated when compared with people working in other professions, competition for places in law school is often intense. Therefore, someone wishing to become a securities lawyer must have higher than average grades throughout high school and college.

In some countries, law school lasts for just a year while in other places law programs take several years to complete. After graduating from law school, someone wishing to become a securities lawyer must successfully pass a law exam that is administered by the regulatory authorities or an industry association. People who pass the exam receive a license or certificate of completion; people who lack this qualification are unable to practice law.

At some colleges, law students learn about numerous different aspects of the law in which case graduates can go on to work as attorneys in a variety of different industries. In other instances, colleges and law schools offer programs that specifically prepare students to work in a particular field such as the securities industry. Individuals who do not learn about securities laws while at college are expected to conduct their own research so that they are familiar with the topic before they apply to work at securities firms.

Securities regulatory authorities and investment firms sometimes offer internships to law school students or college undergraduates. Individuals who take part in these programs are able to work alongside licensed attorneys and to gain some insight into their day-to-day activities. In some instances, employers make permanent job offers to college interns which are contingent upon the interns completing law school and passing the law exam.

Experienced brokers and investment sales representatives sometimes enroll in law school. Some employers prefer to hire law school graduates who previously worked as brokers or traders because these individuals have first-hand knowledge of working in the securities industry. Additionally, due to the nature of the work some employers prefer to hire law school graduates who have prior experience in accounting.

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