SHIFTING FROM LAW TO FINANCE

I just graduated from my LLB in Europe and will start my career as a M&A lawyer in a top tier law firm (top 5 largest in the world). I want to shift to IB but I don’t really know how. Everybody keeps telling me to get a MSc in Finance in a target school in UK in three years, but I still don’t think that it guarantees a spot. I’m sure people here have some experience or know someone who shifted from law to finance. Curious to hear what you guys say

Thanks!!

 

Well first of all, I’d prefer to work with numbers instead of hundreds of pages of boring nonsense. I was told that the M&A deals or tasks in Banking/Finance departments involved some kind of business element too, but I did several internships and feel like all lawyers do is boring paperwork. I also feel like finance is more rewarding both financially and mentally. 

 
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fellow law student, feel the same sentiment and will be recruiting for vac schemes/TC for top firms after doing IB/PE internships prior. i do feel like tho the type of ppl we see in our LLB programs don’t really know what they’re getting themselves into when they commit to a stressful, largely boring career path vs the sexy criminal defense shit u see in movies (IB is the same in some extent, life isn’t Billions everyday).

what i’ve learned from networking with top NY/London V10 lawyers is that if you enjoy working within the finance industry, there are avenues of law that are genuinely at least SOMEWHAT interesting (Rx, M&A) and you get direct deal exposure, just from a different (legal) perspective. comp wise if you compare a career banker and career big law guy, there are plenty of threads discussing how the lack of self-driven exits in law that’s prevalent at junior levels in IB makes making partner maybe more competitive, but if you’re truly at a top top firm they’re not going to be taking any laterals for senior positions from ‘lower tier’ firms, so you’ll have less competition than, say, a Silver Circle firm (ie. Skadden is less likely to add to senior talent via a lateral 7th year associate/counsel from a V50 compared to, say, DLA Piper is. they’re going to probably promote from within. with that, you will probably see the same exodus of 50%+ ish of your class between a DLA and Skadden over your 8 years as an associate, making it actually LESS competitive to make partner at a top top firm than at a good but not top firm)

anyways rant over, $$$ wise unless u think u can make it big on the buy side in finance it’s more of a moot point. banker vs lawyer career comp wise for your situation is probably the same

 

Fair points, I definitely do not want to discourage or rain on your parade, at the junior levels it's all mindless shit. I just don't want you to feel like there is any glamor as compared to legal. 

As a junior you'll model, take notes on calls, work on pitch books and maintain numerous lists - you're not really doing too much decision making. 

Restructuring is the most fun, in my opinion, because you need to understand the numbers and how the documents work - so that is a solid blend, where a law background is very valuable. I'm not so sure on M&A.

 

M&A/Private Equity/RX seats --> B-school/MFin --> IB summer ---> FT

 

If you have an interest in finance and are a M&A lawyer, you will make a boatload of money.

You are competing against colleagues who hate every single minute of their lives while looking at transactions and feel like they are selling their souls. If you actually like finance, you will absolutely crush it in this field. Don't move.

 

It might be the case but I did a few internships before and as you say most lawyers hate every single second of their day and I assumed it was because of the paperwork-like repetitive jobs. I am really interested in finance and hope I’ll crush it as you said. Thanks for the comment!!

 

It goes both ways though. If you have the holistic ability of a lawyer (communication skills, qualitative analysis, etc.) then bringing that to a financial context will also mean you’ll kill it.

 

Would disagree until much later in the game. For the first 6 years of your career, no one is going to care about your legal input. You're still just putting together slides and models like everyone else. Only by the time, that you are allowed to partially hold the pen on docs will you be allowed to help out and that's going to be much later in your career.

If you have an interest in finance within law, literally on day one that gives you an advantage compared to someone who absolutely hates it.

EDIT: To add one additional item. Even later in your career in finance, it does not mean that you will kill with a law background. What it means is that when negotiating a M&A doc you may occasionally make a good comment that your legal counsel missed. You will not kill it every day Monday through Friday because of your legal background but only in some niche situations that come up which is good and could be very important at times but does not mean that you will just kill it in finance.

 

What I've seen was RX (Kirkland) for max 1-2 year -> analyst at BB. If you stay longer than that at your current firm you'll have a hard time jumping ship. Or, the more uncertain option: try to land a spot at a client firm after 5-10 (???) years through your network, not sure if you would be doing actual finance work though, you are most likely still gonna be doing lawyer work but just at fund instead of a law firm.

 

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