Typically approximately 10% of YLS graduates are working in a business setting five years after graduating from law school.

Opportunities in business vary greatly from being an attorney within an in-house group to pursuing a non-practicing business role in the public or private sector. Alumni are encouraged to speak with a CDO counselor about the sorts of business roles in which they are most interested, and to work to create a job search strategy specific to those particular industries and roles.

The following section briefly discusses some of the most popular business careers pursued by YLS alumni, including in-house legal practice, consulting, finance, and non-profit management. For a more detailed discussion about business careers, you can refer to the CDO Lawyers in Business Guide.

In the simplest definition, consultants give professional advice. In the broadest sense there are three types of consulting firms. First are the large management consulting specialists that offer primarily strategy consulting but are not specialized in any specific industry. Second, there are boutique firms which have consulting expertise in specific industries or technologies. Finally, there are large, diversified organizations that offer a range of services, in addition to a strategy consulting practice.

At the large management firms consultants tend to start as generalists, though they may specialize in later years. Business models at firms vary, but for many firms a large portion of the engagement, up to four days a week, is spent at the client’s site. Consulting therefore involves a large amount of travel; however, most firms will fly consultants home on weekends when feasible.

Consulting firms seek candidates with strong analytical and quantitative skills, teamwork capability, leadership, interpersonal skills, presentation skills, energy, flexibility, maturity, and creativity. Because the large consulting firms have offices around the world, they are also interested in candidates with strong foreign language skills. If you are interested in a career in consulting, you should reach out to alumni in this field via The Courtyard to get advice and thoughts on possible pathways to entry. You should also consult other alumni networks. It also makes sense to reach out to any consulting firm clients for whom you have worked, where applicable, as well as to other relevant professional connections you may have.

 

Selected Resources:

Lawyers in Business Guide

Consultants News

Top Consultant

The Management Consultancies Association (UK)

The world of finance is appealing to some law graduates, typically those with business backgrounds, strong quantitative skills, and no fear of working long hours. Among the areas of finance to which YLS alumni have been especially drawn are investment banking, venture capital, private equity, and hedge funds. Each of these is discussed briefly below.

 

Investment Banking

Investment banking positions are known for their competitiveness, work pressure, prestige, and huge salaries. The responsibilities of investment banking associates are similar to those of a corporate law firm associate, in that bankers negotiate on behalf of their clients, draft documents, and conduct due diligence. However, bankers also pitch new ideas for transactions and focus more on valuation. For these reasons, bankers tend to get involved in transactions at an earlier stage than corporate law firm associates. Generally speaking, investment banking associates work longer hours than law firm associates and management consultants (on average work 80-100 hours/week), and at a more hectic pace; however, bankers’ total compensation is usually higher. Analytical and quantitative skills are highly valued by these employers.

For alumni interested in investment banking, the first step is to learn about the industry. Keep abreast of current financial news and network with fellow YLS alumni in the banking field using The Courtyard as well as other alumni networks. Networking is extremely important to finding a position as an investment banker for a law school graduate. Take stock of the banking clients for whom you have worked, if applicable, and other relevant professional connections you have made. These will be invaluable when considering this career transition.

 

Venture Capital

Venture capital firms invest their own money in companies in return for a hefty share of stock and future profits. Venture capitalists are more than financiers; they provide guidance, services, and support to the businesses in which they have invested, and expect to be treated as partners in the running of those businesses. The work of a venture capital firm includes selecting investments, completing the relevant transactions, and managing the investments.

Most venture capital firms are quite small, ranging from one to 40 people, and the entire industry represents a very small portion of people in the field of finance. The responsibilities of a venture capital analyst or associate often includes performing research and strategic planning, negotiating and working with investment bankers and acquirers of a company, raising more money from other equity sources, and negotiating with banks for debt financing.

Ultimately, the key to landing a job with a venture capital firm is networking. The most successful candidates will have experience in management consulting or investment banking, or expertise in a specific industry. As a result, you will likely have better success breaking into this field after a few years with another financial industry position. However, it makes sense to reach out to alumni in this field via The Courtyard and other alumni networks to get advice and thoughts on possible pathways to entry. It also makes sense to reach out to any venture capital clients for whom you have worked, where applicable, as well as to other relevant professional connections you may have.

 

Private Equity

The goal of the private equity fund is to invest in a struggling company, improve the performance of that company, and then to sell the fund’s stake in that company at a profit. This may be done through an initial public offering (IPO) of the company’s shares, a sale to a private buyer, or asset stripping by which the company is broken up and its assets sold.

Jobs in private equity funds are divided into distinct areas, including number crunching, appraising and executing deals, originating deals, and support roles such as investor relations. Private equity firms make their money by selling their stakes in portfolio companies to corporate buyers, or by floating their stakes on the public market through IPOs. In addition, private equity firms make money through annual management fees.

Private equity funds do not employ many people and when they do, they look for experience in investment banking or strategy consulting. For junior number crunching positions, a strong financial background is required. For more senior roles, it is helpful if you can build a strong rapport with company executives and you have experience with strategy and the requirements of running a business. As with other finance jobs, networking is the key to securing a position. You should reach out to alumni in this field via The Courtyard and other alumni networks to get advice and thoughts on possible pathways to entry. It also makes sense to reach out to any private equity clients for whom you have worked, where applicable, as well as to other relevant professional connections you may have.

 

Hedge Funds

The term hedge fund was originally used to categorize institutional investment partnerships that were able to hedge market exposure, but have evolved over time to employ a wide range of investment strategies. Hedge funds vary in size from as little as two employees to as many as 500 employees. A typical hedge fund will have the following departments: operations, accounting, trading, and risk and investor relations. The responsibilities of the employees in these departments vary depending on the size of the hedge fund and its work environment.

Most recent graduates interested in hedge funds are best suited for the analyst role. In general, analysts are expected to make trading recommendations on their own instead of as part of a large team. Employee compensation structures vary widely, but most investment professionals at a hedge fund earn a modest salary and a larger bonus, which is tied to their performance and/or the overall performance of the firm.

Most hedge funds seek to hire investment professionals with prior experience. Ultimately, you will likely need experience in another finance area before making the switch to a hedge fund. Nonetheless, you should reach out to alumni in this field via The Courtyard and other alumni networks to get advice and thoughts on possible pathways to entry. It also makes sense to reach out to any private equity clients for whom you have worked, where applicable, as well as to other relevant professional connections you may have.

 

Selected Resources:

The Courtyard

Alumni Networking Resources

Lawyers in Business Guide

Hoovers

Thedeal.com

Attorneys seeking non-legal roles with non-profit organizations often consider management positions. In general, non-profit managers are responsible for administering non-profit organizations and increasing profits—not for investors and shareholders, but for the individuals to whom the organization is dedicated to helping. Because non-profit organizations often have limited resources, members of their senior management teams are valued for their ability to manage cross-functionally. Successful managers require strong leadership skills as well as an understanding of basic business concepts, such as accounting, marketing, and business administration.

Non-profit organizations will seek candidates that are passionate about the mission of their organization. In addition they value strong management, leadership and team-building skills, as well as strategy and/or consulting experience. If you are interested in pursuing this sort of work, you should reach out to alumni in this field via The Courtyard and other alumni networks to get advice and thoughts on possible pathways to entry, as well as to any relevant non-profit organization clients for whom you have worked. Also consider reaching out to any other relevant professional connections you may have.

You may wish to take a look at the public interest page of the CDO site for alumni for a general overview of public interest careers, and additional resources.

 

Selected Resources:

The Courtyard

Alumni Networks

Financial Support for Public Interest

Idealist.org

PSJD