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Securities Lawyer: Job Description and Education Requirements

Securities lawyers require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

A securities lawyer handles the financial assets of their clients, whether for minor issues or lawsuits. The educational path to become a securities lawyer is parallel to that of all types of lawyers; graduating college and law school, and passing the bar exam to earn licensure. They also take courses in law school that pertain to their specialization.

Essential Information

Securities law is a specialized subdivision of business law. Securities lawyers deal with the law as it relates to the purchase and sale of stocks, bonds and other investments. Securities lawyers have to pass a bar examination to be licensed with the state.

Required Education Juris Doctor
Licensure/Certification State licensure required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all lawyers
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $136,260 for all lawyers; $192,530 for those employed in the securities and commodity exchanges industry

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Securities Lawyer Job Description

There are three main branches of securities law, regulatory work, transactional work and litigation. Securities lawyers who do regulatory work may help clients deal with issues involving the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations, the National Association of Securities Dealers, the New York Stock Exchange and other laws that protect the interests of investors. Those who do transactional work deal with the legal issues involved in mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings (IPOs) and mutual funds. Finally, security lawyers who work in litigation handle both civil and criminal lawsuits, and enforcement actions. Securities lawyers may represent companies or investors.

Securities Lawyer Education Requirements

Securities lawyers must take the same educational steps as any other lawyer. They must first earn their bachelor's degrees and take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) before they may begin law school. There is no specific major required for pre-law students, but courses in public speaking, English, government, philosophy, economics and history are recommended. Any courses that strengthen a student's aptitude for reading, writing, speaking, analyzing, researching and thinking logically can be helpful. In addition, those who wish to be securities lawyers specifically should take courses in accounting, finance and business. These courses may be helpful because securities lawyers need to be able to understand financial statements and the way businesses operate.

After earning their bachelor's degrees, students go on to three years of law school. The first half of their study is dedicated to core courses, such as property law, constitutional law, contracts, legal writing and civil procedure. The rest of a law student's education focuses on their area of specialization. Those studying to become securities lawyers may take courses related to business law, tax law, securities law, administrative law and corporations. Practical experience is gained through research, mock trials and part-time clerkships.

After earning their Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, new lawyers must pass a written bar examination before they may begin practicing law. Most states require the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). Some states require additional examinations, which may include the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), the Multistate Performance Test, the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) or a written ethics exam.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, (www.bls.gov), lawyers in general can expect a 6% increase in job growth over the 2014-2024 decade. The BLS also reported that the average annual salary for lawyers was $136,260 in May of 2015. Those working for the securities and commodity exchanges industries were reported to have earned an average annual salary of $192,530.

Securities lawyers must go through extensive schooling and receive licensure to practice. While in college, classes in accounting, finance, and business can also help prepare them for the job. During law school, they typically enroll in relevant courses and engage in simulated trials and internships related to their area of law.

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