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Top Five Careers in Banking and Finance with a Law Degree

A law degree is one of the most versatile qualifications out there. The skills developed while studying law are highly transferable across different careers. Analytical and research skills learned during your legal education are needed in a broad range of professions. A law degree also acts as an excellent springboard to hone soft skills such as good communication and problem-solving capabilities. These skills are also crucial if you are thinking of stepping into a career outside of law such as a management or consultancy role. With a law degree behind your belt, you will become more articulate and be ready to think on your feet in whatever industry you choose.

Many alternative career pathways are accessible with legal knowledge alone and do not require any legal practice experience such as HR, tax advisory work, marketing, consulting and much more. Below, DLAB has compiled a list of the top 5 careers in banking and finance available to graduates with a law degree.

In-House Lawyer

In-house lawyers are exposed to the full range of legal issues, from corporate, mergers and acquisitions, litigation to tax and finance. Practice areas include, among others, antitrust law, international trade, corporate securities, tax, real estate, government contracts, ethics, privacy, and intellectual property as well as the standard contracts and employment law issues.

If you are a graduate with a view to becoming an in-house lawyer, working as a paralegal or a legal executive is a great starting point. You can also considering applying for one of the top finance graduate schemes – it’s a great way to get your foot in the door. All major banks, asset managers and financial institutions offer graduate programmes and often hold open doors and virtual events.

There are amazing career opportunities for an in-house lawyer in investment banks and asset management companies, from working on high-profile deals to learning from the best experts in the industry. As an in-house lawyer you will gain thorough understanding of the business as a whole and will be working closely with stakeholders from different departments. Landing an in-house counsel job can be tricky as it is a competitive process. A study in the U.S. found that 35% of in-house lawyers had had 15 to 16 years of experience while only about 10% have two years of experience or less.

But don’t let the statistics deter you, after all, law graduates are no strangers to competition! The national average salary for an In House Counsel is £78,799 in the United Kingdom.

Derivatives / ISDA Documentation Negotiators

This is quite an amazing career choice! You will require a solid understanding of derivatives documentation, be familiar with a range for ancillary to trading legal agreements, as well as have effective negotiation and interpersonal skills. This role, however, comes with a unique opportunity to work wit people across all levels of experience and in all areas of the firm. It is also a great career choice if you’d like to expand your platform, build a global network and work internationally. 

Based on our research, ISDA negotiator role salaries differ depending on your experience and level of expertise, the more junior positions starts at about £38,000 and go up to £63,000 and sometimes even £80,000 for a more experienced derivatives negotiator.

On-Boarding Specialist

On-boarding specialists is an exciting role that puts you in front of clients on a daily basis. You will need great communication and interpersonal skills. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn the behind-the-scenes of trading. You will be responsible, amongst other things, for ensuring the KYC (Know Your Customer) anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist processes are conducted, the account opening forms and legal documents have been circulated to the client – in essence, you will be looking after the entire new client on-boarding journey.  

Graduates working in KYC departments usually have a legal, business or economics bachelor’s degree. Additional languages skills (particularly European languages) are a bonus as the business will be opening accounts all over the world. Also, soft skills such as great teamwork, an analytical mindset and good interpersonal skills will definitely help you to progress in this role quickly. 

The salary starts at £24,000 at graduate entry, but moves up to £52,800 for a more experienced position and can reach up to £95,000 for a senior management role in the client on-boarding team.

Compliance Officer

The demand for compliance officers continues to rise in both the public and private sector. Businesses all over the world are relying on their compliance teams to make sure that they are meeting all regulatory requirements and are safeguarded against hefty fines from the regulators. Banking and finance is a highly regulated industry, so a career in compliance provides a lot of job security.

Becoming a Compliance Officer is quite a glamorous and high-profile role! You will be responsible for ensuring that the relevant areas of your company are meeting all regulatory requirements when conducting business. This means ensuring that appropriate licenses are held, creating internal controls and monitoring adherence, drafting internal policies and guidelines, educating and training employees on industry best practices and latest regulatory developments. This role requires a good working knowledge of banking and finance regulations, so if you’re interested in exploring European legislation, learning about MiFID or EMIR this may be the right career path for you!

Graduate salaries start at around £20,000 and go up to £100,000 for senior roles and up to £160,000 for the management roles. Contract or temporary roles may also be worth considering if you want to test the waters first. Day rates for compliance professionals with up to two years’ experience start at £200 per day.

Business Director

It is not usual to find that many Directors and Managing Directors and ex-lawyers! Their legal background comes in handy when dealing with clients, various corporate matters and managing other lawyers. Business Directors are mainly responsible for implementing company strategies across various departments, but also building good working relationships with the suppliers, negotiating the commercial aspects of contractual arrangements with external parties and looking after their allocated clients.  This means going the extra mile, being resourceful and available at random times… Great interpersonal skills are a must, also the ability to think on your feet, make quick decisions and judgment calls are some of the key qualities of good Business Directors.  If you have an entrepreneurial edge, this may be the right role for you!

The salaries for a Business Director can vary quite dramatically across the industry with a starting salary at £48,000, moving up to £82,000 in a banking sector and up to £125,000 for more senior roles. 

If you have any questions about building your career in the banking and finance industry or have any queries about this article, or simply want to say hello, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to email me at hello@derivativeslab.co.uk

Best regards, 

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