Law to Quant Pivot?

Firstly, I recognise how ridiculous the title of this post sounds but let me elaborate.

I am a UK Law graduate (Top 2 Uni) who is due to start at a world Top 5 Law firm in August. After two years, I’ll qualify and I’ll be in the Cravath scale ($225k + bonus). However I anticipate that I will hate my job - I’ve been paralegalling for some time now and find the work boring as hell.

I have friends in the quant space and this appears to be much more interesting than what i’m currently doing. Despite my humanities background, I’m not useless in math - I did Math and Further Math A Level, was chosen for the British Math Olympiad (although performed badly because I did zero preparation as had a different interview the next week for my law undergrad admissions) and have self taught Linear Algebra, ODEs/ PDEs, Group, Ring and Field Theory and Galois Theory all to a modest level (I recognise all but the first two are irrelevant to quant work but this was to give an understanding of my mathematical background) - to clarify I am not claiming I have anywhere near the familiarity with these topics of someone who has actually completed even an undergrad in math/stem field. I have a similarly modest amount of coding experience (Python, Javascript, Java).

My question is how would I pivot into quant (if this is even possible at all). Do another undergrad in stem? Apply to a master program with more of a stem/finance focus (would that even be possible with my background)?
I have seen people in the field do internships at prestigious HFT/algo trading firms with a medicine undergrad background so could I apply directly? If so, what steps could I take to bolster an application? As you can imagine, my current CV is quite law focused with only 1 finance related item and that is a modelling course for LBOs so not quite the same tier as what quant firms would expect.

tl;dr am an incoming lawyer who is dreading it - thinking about ways to pivot into quant (if this is even possible at this stage in my career)


Based on the most helpful WSO content, pivoting from law to a quant role in finance, while challenging, is not impossible given your strong mathematical background and some coding experience. Here’s a structured approach to potentially make this transition:

  1. Strengthen Quantitative Skills: Continue to build on your self-taught mathematical knowledge. Focus on areas directly applicable to quant roles such as statistics, probability, and further deepen your understanding of linear algebra and differential equations. Online courses or a formal postgraduate education can be beneficial here.

  2. Enhance Programming Skills: Quant roles heavily rely on programming. Python is particularly valuable in this field, so consider advancing your Python skills to include libraries commonly used in finance like NumPy, Pandas, and SciPy. Java and C++ are also frequently used in algorithmic trading.

  3. Consider a Master’s Program: Look into Master’s programs in Quantitative Finance, Financial Engineering, or Computational Finance. These programs are designed to build your quantitative skills and are often open to candidates from non-traditional backgrounds. Your math A-levels and self-study demonstrate a foundational competence that can be highlighted in your applications.

  4. Networking and Mentorship: Connect with professionals in the quant field through networking events, LinkedIn, or forums like WSO. Gaining insights from those already in the field can provide valuable guidance and potentially open doors for internships or job opportunities.

  5. Internships and Practical Experience: If possible, seek internships in the field. This not only provides practical experience but also strengthens your CV towards quant roles. Even projects or freelance gigs that involve data analysis or modeling can be useful.

  6. Tailor Your CV: Highlight your mathematical and programming skills, and any relevant projects or courses, on your CV. Make it clear that you have a strong foundation in the skills necessary for a quant role, despite your legal background.

  7. Prepare for Interviews: Quant interviews can be highly technical, focusing on math, programming, and finance questions. Prepare thoroughly, perhaps even considering coaching or interview prep courses that focus on quant roles.

By following these steps, you can build a compelling case for your transition into the quant field despite starting in law. Remember, the key is to demonstrate your quantitative aptitude and programming skills, alongside a genuine interest in finance and trading.

Sources: How do you become a Quant Trader?, Complete European master guide for S&T/Quant position, Q&A: Quantitative Analyst - Machine Learning, Analytics, & Quantitative Research/Investing, How to break into S&T as a graduate?, Intro to Investment Banking

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

Honestly, I think you'll have to go back to uni and do a STEM undergrad. Your best bet would be to try and get a few quant internships whilst studying to get your foot in the door. I'm sure you're extremely bright, but you simply don't have the right background and experience at this stage. 

Most Helpful

You could probably get into a decent masters program, but you’d probably need to do some work upfront like taking a few grad classes to show the math aptitude and work with professors to angle the rec letters appropriately. Personally sounds kind of hellish to me around a big law schedule, but maybe less hellish than big law to you, ymmv.
If you build a portfolio of coding projects, some grad classes/online certifications, you could probably get a more entry level type data science job and work your way up. But that will probably be big jump in TC and role coming from big law, and would be a long road to a top quant job. Which is what I imagine you want.
My unsolicited opinion though: the path of least resistance would be finding some areas of law you find interesting. First few years at most things kind of suck, even quant. Unless you’re coming from a top program at a top shop and get treated like royalty (which is just selection bias in the info thats displayed on forums like this). Finding a law niche you like sounds much higher expected value than going back to school or starting from the bottom. Heck, even pivoting into like a law-tech startup or something.


I doubt the OP will get accepted onto a decent (and quant relevant) masters with a law degree (irrespective of knowing a little linear algebra and Galois theory) as you'll be competing against others from top undergrad STEM programs with top grades. This is why I suggested going back to undergrad. My suggestion would be do maths and/with comp science. For context I did my maths undergrad, PhD and postdoc at UK unis and have been working in the industry for over 10 years. I do think it'll be very difficult for the OP to pivot to quant from where they are but, as others have said, not impossible.


Do you recommend any universities for the program? Correct me if I’m wrong but I doubt Cambridge would be too interested in an older student without formal maths/comp sci education in the last 3 years as I know they are hot on picking people up immediately after A Level. I’m guessing Warwick? If so, would that noticeably diminish my chances of actually getting into a top quant firm (have seen stats saying Cambridge leads the pack in a large way, even over Oxford, in terms of quant placements wrt top firms)


A few points. For context I did math undergrad in the Uk at a top uni.

First, definitely not too late. Although I’m not exactly sure of what route you would have to take, it is better to make a correction now than in 10 years.

Second I highly doubt you have self-taught Galois theory! That was challenging enough for us in our final year. 

Third, I think you are right to want to avoid big law. It’s an adversarial, stressful profession. Lawyers are way above average for anxiety/ depression

Forth, quant work has the disadvantage of ageism. Unlike a true profession, with the characteristics of a barrier to entry (exams, professional body), and a mostly fixed body of knowledge, raw intelligence alone wins. It may be exciting to be constantly learning when you are young but that gets tiring 

Btw I went into accounting and overall am happy. It’s as technical as you want it to be (read some of the IFRS standards or a tax case judgement) you can certainly get £££ if you climb the ranks in an accounting practice(big 4 partners in the Uk are on millions). Tax might be natural for you coming from a law background too. Worth considering


More from a US perspective but there are quite a few ex-lawyers at DE Shaw in fundamental research roles.  DE Shaw likes academically succesful liberal arts grads for their rotational investment programs.   

If you are going from Oxbridge -> Slaughter & May or a similar level of elite firm, I'd think there would be interest (unclear what you mean by "world top-5" firm).    

Other path would be doing a masters in finance / masters in financial engineering with an internship and then recruiting. 


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