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Where the Jobs Are (and Not)

Vivia Chen

June 29, 2011

PeoDocs Compliance Work is Sexy--Really

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."

Corn So where is there a shortage of lawyers? Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C. But before you pack up for those locales, WSJ notes:

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.

Related posts: Ladies Get Lucky in Washington, Eeny, Meeny--Corporate or Litigation?

Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at [email protected].

Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist


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Oh, guess I better change my major..

@julia--i'll plead guilty to a degree of sarcasm. but you originally said i was being "confrontational." those are two different things entirely. and i'll bet you $1 that vivia has never set foot in nebraska, the state she speaks so disparagingly of.

anyway, i doubt anyone else cares about our little parsing of words anymore.

i hope you continue to enjoy life in the big city.

I'm not a lawyer, I'm an assistant. I started reading this because I was interested in working with legal matters. I keep reading it because it's fun, and the advice and insights apply to everything in my experience, not just law.
"at least 250 million americans don't live in new york or chicago. and most lawyers don't either. and we're still happy!"
Do you see that this sounds sarcastic? It sounds like you thought I was saying it's impossible to be happy outside the big city, and I wasn't. I'm not, and from what Vivia says she isn't, but some others are. It seemed like a very strong reaction to my expression of my personal feeling on this.

i see that one of my previous posts didn't make it onto the board. Julia, i'm not sure what was confrontational about my first post. all i did was express a point of view that differed from yours (and vivia's). i'm kind of a surprised that a fellow lawyer considers a differing point of view a "confrontation."

oh, and what about vivia's snooty little "hope you like corn" comment? i wonder if warren buffett thought it was as clever as she did'!

Well Kevin, I and many of the people I knew in Kansas were unhappy. But I understand that some were happy. Some can't be happy outside the big city, and some are very happy outside it. It all depends on personal needs and tastes.
I was just saying that for people unfamiliar with the area they should check first and make sure they'll be happy living in a different place. This would also apply to people who have never been to a big city and are considering a move there.
Why are you so confrontational about this? I wasn't making any judgements. I think you projected things on my post that aren't there.

hey @julia--guess what? at least 250 million americans don't live in new york or chicago. and most lawyers don't either. and we're still happy!

There are plenty of jobs available in NYC and other major markets for junior to midlevel lateral associates with national law school credentials and AmLaw 100 experience. The trouble is that the law firms are only interested in the cream of the crop. Everyone else must find their own way through legal entrepreneurship.

I feel the same as Vivia - I left Kansas as soon as I was old enough and moved to Chicago. I'm an assistant and when I was young I did several different types of jobs.
Personally I would get a different job before I worked in Nebraska, but that's just me - Some people do seem to like the Oklahoma/Kansas/Nebraska/Dakotas lifestyle.
If you've never been there, I suggest you be cautious with a plan to move. Visit first and make sure you can be happy with the culture and the available activities. It's very different from the big city!

Re: Nebraska. Really? No Sara K. Stadler commencement address joke?


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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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