How to become a finance lawyer?

The banking and finance law concerns everything related to money, from personal loans to corporate business transactions. While talking about this area of legal practice, the cliché “money makes the world go round” may not be applicable, as it just applies to money, but it covers the entire globe, including various legal jurisdictions.

Read about the training and preparation needed to become a finance lawyer. To find out if this is the occupation for you, get a brief view of the qualifications as well as information on training, work duties, and licensure.

Key Facts 

  • Required Education: 

Juris Doctor

  • Other Requirements: 

State bar exam

  • Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)

6% for all lawyers*

  • Average Salary

$144,230 for all lawyers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What does Finance Lawyer Do?  

The names of financial lawyers include banking lawyers, investment banking lawyers and corporate lawyers. They deal with legal matters concerning securities-related laws and legislation such as stocks, shares, and options. In addition, some financial lawyers manage bankruptcies, real estate deals, and antitrust problems.

Financial lawyers are typically trained in a specific form of finance law. For example, if a company wants to file for bankruptcy, a lawyer with expertise in reorganizing or liquidating firms will be required. Similarly, a company that is accused of having a monopoly will require an antitrust attorney’s expertise. 

A stock brokerage which faces a U.S. Violation of the Securities and Exchange Commission may employ an attorney specializing in securities. Similarly, a mortgage lender trying to foreclose a property will require an attorney who has expertise in banking laws and procedures.

The roles and obligations of financial lawyers are diverse. Many in-house banking lawyers conduct due diligence on prospective lenders or draft contracts for investment agreements, mortgages, and credit lines. Others track enforcement concerns.

A national mortgage lender, for example, may retain a banking lawyer to ensure that their lending arrangements comply with federal legislation and loan laws in all 50 states. Some accounting lawyers deal with mergers and acquisitions, with others helping to plan and file tax returns for companies. 

Finance lawyers who deal with small companies draft contracts and help new firms fulfill legal standards in fields such as incorporation, financing, and initial public offerings.

Owing to the multinational nature of banking, several major law firms have various offices across the globe at locations like London, Singapore, Zurich, and Hong Kong. That helps them to create more business with the biggest businesses in the world. 

For instance, a legal firm with offices in the European Union could help a software company in San Jose, California, merge with a competitor in France. Global firms also help international companies manage tax laws, buy real estate and secure foreign financing as they venture into new markets.

Educational Requirements for Finance Lawyer

For becoming a finance lawyer, the educational requirements include obtaining a bachelor’s degree and a Juris Doctor’s degree, as well as passing a board test for obtaining a license to practice. 

Finance lawyers may advise clients in fields like finance, tax and immovable property, and will work to keep up-to-date on developments in these areas. You should expect decent job opportunities and an opportunity to receive a handsome salary if you succeed as a finance lawyer.

The law school programs typically take three years to complete. Getting into law school is not an easy job, due to strict standards of acceptance and tough competition with other applicants. You must pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) first, and then go through an interview before the school admission board.

Law schools are searching for applicants that they think will become successful lawyers. They usually look at the overall suitability of an applicant, reviewing their school records, LSAT ratings, history of jobs, extracurricular activities and volunteer work.

Practical topics such as legal writing and contracts, as well as civil procedure, constitutional law, and property law, are included in the course work. Most schools require you to choose a specialization such as corporate or financial legislation.

Past banking, insurance, or accounting work experience will boost the chances of securing your first job as an insurance lawyer. You may also look for internship or law clerk positions with a finance law firm to gain experience.

Bar Exams and Licensing 

You must pass bar exams after graduating from law school to get your license to practice law. The word “bar” applies to the American Bar Association (ABA), a national law firm and law student organization. Passing the bar exams entitles you to be admitted to the bar, ensuring you can practice law legally. 

Each state has guidelines for chapter ABA and bars examination. The highest court of each state defines the bar laws, including the types of tests that an attorney must take and pass to obtain a degree. Requirements for bar admission differ by state.

Most states allow lawyers from an ABA-accredited law school to hold a Juris Doctorate degree. Some states allow attorneys to pass one written exam, while others require multiple exams. 

You can’t, generally, practice law in another country. For certain cases, you can work on a foreign case as an associate counsel, which will entail the hiring of a primary counsel in the national jurisdiction that will hear the case.

Financial Benefits and Salary of Finance Lawyer

Under the U.S. Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), lawyers in 2018 received a median income of close to $144,230. The median wage is the cornerstone of the pay scale for lawyers. 

A review of salaries reported by the career website Glassdoor at the time of this writing returned a wide variety of salaries from finance and banking lawyers. For example, business and finance lawyers from Morgan Lewis make $186,000 to $241,000, while lawyers from Bank of America fund earn $120,000 to $130,000.

Katten’s finance lawyers raise $226,000 to $247,000 per annum and Apple’s corporate finance lawyers take $180,000 to $197,000 ride. Vedder Price finance and securities lawyers raise $315,000 to $347,000 a year to top up the Glassdoor list. 

Glassdoor based its compensation data on information provided by lawyers in banking, securities, and corporate law.