If you have your heart set on being a corporate lawyer, think compliance.
That's the advice of Constance Melrose, the managing director of eFinancialCareers North America, which just issued a survey of almost 160 financial firms about the number of offers they expect to make to their MBA summer interns.
According to the survey, Wall Street financial institutions are pretty stingy about offers (less than half--49 percent--plan to extend offers to 10 percent or less of their summer hires). But what everyone--including lawyers--should pay attention to is where they expect to hire: operations, debt/fixed income, corporate finance, research, and compliance. "It's the fundamentals--the core stuff," says Melrose.
The message to lawyers is that there's "a tremendous shortage of compliance people," says Melrose. "The traditional path is for law school graduates to work at a regulatory body, like the SEC, where they'd develop skill sets that would translate into the private sector." But now, she says, "even regulators can't find regulators" to keep up with the demand.
The shortage is especially acute in the financial sector. Melrose adds that her company's clients (which include big investment banks, asset managers, and risk managers) are so hungry to hire people with regulatory background that they're interviewing "women who have taken time off, and retired lawyers."
Her advice to junior lawyers and law students: Get cooking on the regulatory front. Even though many of the proposed rules for the financial market are unsettled, just having an understanding of the regulatory framework and reforms will be a major plus, she says: "If you have legal training, discipline, and analytic skills, you will be valuable."
Goodbye New York
Having a tough time finding a job in the Big Apple? Well, have you thought of leaving town? As a die-hard New Yorker who clawed her way out of Texas, I know that's traumatic.
But here's the deal: "New York has the largest surplus of lawyers, or more than 7,500 in 2009," reports The Wall Street Journal. Next in line is California, which had about 3,000 surplus lawyers.
The finding was based on research by consulting company Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., which "compared the number of people who passed the bar in 2009 to an estimate of yearly job openings for lawyers that same year."
Wisconsin and D.C. are exceptional cases: Wisconsin law school graduates do not have to take the bar in order to practice there, and in D.C., already licensed lawyers can be waived into membership, which is why so few take the bar in the nation’s capital. All this goes to show that even in these two places, what seems to be a deficit might actually be a surplus, since the number who pass the bar exam underestimates the actual supply of lawyers.
Which, to me, sounds like a long way of saying that Nebraska is the only place with a lawyer deficit.
Hope you like corn.
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