Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

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roranoa
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Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby roranoa » Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:17 am

....practice corporate law?

Is it necessary that you have finance/business knowledge to get practice corporate law? (at BigLaw doing transaction work)

If it is necessary, how much of it do you need? Should I take a few courses on accounting and finance?

any advice?

(edited for clarification)
Last edited by roranoa on Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JD2014
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby JD2014 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:46 am

No. Most corporate lawyers (and by that I assume you mean lawyers that work in Biglaw and represent publicly traded companies) don't even know how to use Microsoft Excel, let alone produce financial statements or calculate NPVs or IRRs. When businesses need accounting or financial advice, they hire accounting firms and financial advisors. They hire lawyers when they need legal help. (Also, anything less than a major in these subjects isn't going to give you the knowledge to be of any value, and you'll have forgotten most of it by the time you finish law school anyway.)

Don't get me wrong, from a personal standpoint, I think intro to accounting and finance should be required courses for college students, and if you take them, you will derive real world benefits. But they won't help you at all in either law school admissions or job hunting, and can only hurt you if you don't do well and they drag your GPA down.

apl6783
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby apl6783 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:16 am

JD2014 wrote:No. Most corporate lawyers (and by that I assume you mean lawyers that work in Biglaw and represent publicly traded companies) don't even know how to use Microsoft Excel, let alone produce financial statements or calculate NPVs or IRRs. When businesses need accounting or financial advice, they hire accounting firms and financial advisors. They hire lawyers when they need legal help. (Also, anything less than a major in these subjects isn't going to give you the knowledge to be of any value, and you'll have forgotten most of it by the time you finish law school anyway.)

Don't get me wrong, from a personal standpoint, I think intro to accounting and finance should be required courses for college students, and if you take them, you will derive real world benefits. But they won't help you at all in either law school admissions or job hunting, and can only hurt you if you don't do well and they drag your GPA down.


This is terrible advice.

bendurnotes4me
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby bendurnotes4me » Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:36 am

Bump - what would your advice be? This is also relevant to my interests.

CreativityKing
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby CreativityKing » Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:46 am

bendurnotes4me wrote:Bump - what would your advice be? This is also relevant to my interests.


So, I'm a 0L and really don't know if you need to have studied finance/accounting to do corporate law (I would guess not), but I would say it probably couldn't hurt. If you're at all interested in those subjects - and I'm guessing you are, if you want to do corporate - you might as well take a couple classes.

I majored in finance (and currently work in business), and disagree with the above poster that said anything less than a major would be useless to you. If I were someone looking to get a decent base of knowledge of finance and accounting, I would take one or two intro classes in each subject. I certainly wouldn't have the in-depth knowledge of, say derivative valuation, that a finance major might have, but I would have a grasp of high-level concepts in each subject.

If you're interested, I could probably suggest a couple courses that I think would provide a decent base of knowledge...PM me if you want.

Rule11
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby Rule11 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:53 am

apl6783 wrote:This is terrible advice.


It's pretty good advice.

Knowledge of basics, particularly accounting, is helpful but far from required. The real problem here is that OP thinks there's a monolith called "corporate law"--there are many different ways to practice that involve catering to the needs of corporate clients. Some ways would or could make use of a finance background (e.g., a capital markets practice, or (in some cases) securities litigation (less than you'd think, though)). Others don't (e.g., labor/employment law, or products liability--tax also seems not to require background, although accounting knowledge would certainly help in most cases). Either way, a large proportion of big lawyers lack any substantial finance or accounting background and end up doing just fine anyway.

Could you explain what's terrible about this advice? Genuinely curious.

apl6783
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby apl6783 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:40 am

Rule11 wrote:
apl6783 wrote:This is terrible advice.


It's pretty good advice.

Knowledge of basics, particularly accounting, is helpful but far from required. The real problem here is that OP thinks there's a monolith called "corporate law"--there are many different ways to practice that involve catering to the needs of corporate clients. Some ways would or could make use of a finance background (e.g., a capital markets practice, or (in some cases) securities litigation (less than you'd think, though)). Others don't (e.g., labor/employment law, or products liability--tax also seems not to require background, although accounting knowledge would certainly help in most cases). Either way, a large proportion of big lawyers lack any substantial finance or accounting background and end up doing just fine anyway.

Could you explain what's terrible about this advice? Genuinely curious.


His question was do you have to have finance/business knowledge to practice "corporate law." Most of the lawyers I work for who do commercial transactions and corporate litigation are, at the very least, knowledgable of the fundamentals of business and finance. All of them know how to work Excel.

Do you have to be able to draft income statements or cost reports? No. But how are you going to depose a CFO if you don't understand anything they're saying? Plus, you have to know the lingo to talk to your own clients (who are corporate officers).

Plus, law firms are business... that have finances.

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Veyron
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby Veyron » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:45 am

You people are idiots, the advice is to get into a T-14. Firms will take a liberal arts major with a solid accademic background from a top school for their corporate department no questions asked.

jarofsoup
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby jarofsoup » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:47 am

Most law schools offer classes like "book keeping for lawyer." Corporate law is a huge field. But go on any big law firm web page and you will see that undergraduate major is not important.


There are reasons why firms hire expert witnesses, and outside consultants.

JD2014
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby JD2014 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:52 am

Sorry, but it's good advice. Take intro to accounting and finance for your own development, and maybe it will pay off later, but it's highly unlikely. If you work for a smaller firm, where associates are expected to be more resourceful and well-rounded, these courses might be useful, but when OP said "corporate law" it's probably shorthand for Biglaw, where if you don't specialize in something, you're not going to be doing it.

Most of the lawyers I work for who do commercial transactions and corporate litigation are, at the very least, knowledgable of the fundamentals of business and finance


Is this a smaller firm where attorneys need to be more well-rounded? Also, do they have this knowledge because they took Accounting 110, 111 and 210 in undergrad, or because they've worked in the industry for years and have on the job experience?

Plus, law firms are business... that have finances.


Again, only relevant if you're working for a small firm. OP presumably asked about Biglaw, where they have finance departments, marketing departments, oaccountants, and tons of other people who don't have JDs and whose job it is to know about these things instead of practicing law.

Plus, you have to know the lingo to talk to your own clients (who are corporate officers).


You think if you go to Biglaw, you'll be allowed to speak to a client with less than 5 years of experience? You're lucky if you're allowed to sit in the room while a partner has a conference call on speakerphone, so that you can get some of the on the job experience I talked about above.

jarofsoup
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby jarofsoup » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:58 am

You think if you go to Biglaw, you'll be allowed to speak to a client with less than 5 years of experience? You're lucky if you're allowed to sit in the room while a partner has a conference call on speakerphone, so that you can get some of the on the job experience I talked about above.



I disagree you may be able to draft a memo to the client and then have the partner sign it in their name. :)

JD2014
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby JD2014 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:00 am

I disagree you may be able to draft a memo to the client and then have the partner sign it in their name.


I think you meant to say you may get to draft a memo to a senior associate, who in turn drafts a memo that the partner signs their name to.

apl6783
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby apl6783 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:08 am

You're all right to the extent that his major doesn't matter. Major in dance. Who cares?

The kid never said anything about biglaw. His first question was do you need to know about business/finance to do any type of corporate law. The answer is: yes. The first guy to respond gave bad advice.

Most lawyers do not work in biglaw firms.

JD2014
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby JD2014 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:14 am

The kid never said anything about Biglaw, but most people who are not yet at the stage where they realize that many lawyers very successfully represent corporations with a liberal arts use "corporate law" as a shorthand for law firms that represent publicly traded corporations, which in the industry jargon is Biglaw.

And to answer the OPs question again, it won't hurt you, it might help you, it might not help you, but the best advice is to keep your GPA as high as possible, get into the best law school possible and worry about innumeracy later.

dooood
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby dooood » Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:41 am

-
Last edited by dooood on Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

roranoa
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby roranoa » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:40 pm

apl6783 wrote:You're all right to the extent that his major doesn't matter. Major in dance. Who cares?

The kid never said anything about biglaw. His first question was do you need to know about business/finance to do any type of corporate law. The answer is: yes. The first guy to respond gave bad advice.

Most lawyers do not work in biglaw firms.


Sorry my question wasn't clear. Yes I am talking about BigLaw.
And yes, I'm talking specifically about transaction work.
Last edited by roranoa on Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

roranoa
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby roranoa » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:45 pm

dooood wrote:If you want to do transactional work after graduating from law school, taking Intro to Finance and Accounting classes as an undergrad is a very good idea. For starters, you will have a basic grasp of concepts that your professor in business-oriented classes in law school (even basic ones like Corporations) will gloss over. Students in my 2L Corporations class didn't know what dividends were or what a balance sheet was, and this definitely hurt them. Also, many of the most interesting and practical corporate law courses in law school will have up to two or three prerequisites; I had two professors waive prerequisites because I told them I got an A in Accounting and Intro to Finance as an undergrad.

Come OCI, if you tell a firm during a screening interview that you're interested in transactional work, but you've never taken an accounting class, they will be skeptical. You need every advantage possible nowadays to find a job, and being able to point to classes you've taken in the past to evince your interests and strengths will help.

Then, if you do happen to land a corporate job doing transactional work, fluency with basic accounting principles will make you better at your job. If a partner asks you to draft a standard loan agreement using a firm's precedent K (pretty basic), and you can't understand the meaning of a term requiring the borrower to maintain a certain working capital amount, you're gonna have a miserable time as a junior associate.

This sounds pretty solid. Thanks!

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niederbomb
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby niederbomb » Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:13 am

dooood wrote:If you want to do transactional work after graduating from law school, taking Intro to Finance and Accounting classes as an undergrad is a very good idea. For starters, you will have a basic grasp of concepts that your professor in business-oriented classes in law school (even basic ones like Corporations) will gloss over. Students in my 2L Corporations class didn't know what dividends were or what a balance sheet was, and this definitely hurt them. Also, many of the most interesting and practical corporate law courses in law school will have up to two or three prerequisites; I had two professors waive prerequisites because I told them I got an A in Accounting and Intro to Finance as an undergrad.

Come OCI, if you tell a firm during a screening interview that you're interested in transactional work, but you've never taken an accounting class, they will be skeptical. You need every advantage possible nowadays to find a job, and being able to point to classes you've taken in the past to evince your interests and strengths will help.

Then, if you do happen to land a corporate job doing transactional work, fluency with basic accounting principles will make you better at your job. If a partner asks you to draft a standard loan agreement using a firm's precedent K (pretty basic), and you can't understand the meaning of a term requiring the borrower to maintain a certain working capital amount, you're gonna have a miserable time as a junior associate.


What about the certificate courses that some law schools offer with the corresponding business school? Penn has one of these, and I believe UVA does as well. Helpful at all to learn the basics of Finance/Accounting? A waste?

I got admitted to do a Diploma for Graduates in Accounting from LSE Distance but probably won't have time to do it before LS...maybe as a 3L? I don't know if it's worth it or not to try to fit this in.

My current Accounting/Finance knowledge? 0. lol

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Kiersten1985
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby Kiersten1985 » Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:49 am

I'm a 1L planning to go into corporate litigation and worked for two years before law school at a V5 in NYC.

Trust me - most lawyers in BigLaw do not have finance backgrounds. You can take whatever you need -if, in fact, you need to- in law school. Firms don't even see your UG transcripts. The only thing that matters from UG after UG is if you got into a good law school and did well there.

By all means, don't start taking classes that could F up your GPA. That's all you need to worry about right now. (I assume you're in undergrad.)

As someone else mentioned, firms hire consultants and expert witnesses for most finance cases. No judge is going to consider a lawyer "expert" enough on pure finance to be a credited source anyway.

Do you what you like and what will get you good grades. Period.

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kurla88
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby kurla88 » Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:33 am

You don't need it, but taking accounting and finance now will only help. No one in my interviews expected me to have a business background, but they did expect me to not be clueless about that stuff. (Oops.)

dooood
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby dooood » Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:58 am

niederbomb wrote:
dooood wrote:If you want to do transactional work after graduating from law school, taking Intro to Finance and Accounting classes as an undergrad is a very good idea. For starters, you will have a basic grasp of concepts that your professor in business-oriented classes in law school (even basic ones like Corporations) will gloss over. Students in my 2L Corporations class didn't know what dividends were or what a balance sheet was, and this definitely hurt them. Also, many of the most interesting and practical corporate law courses in law school will have up to two or three prerequisites; I had two professors waive prerequisites because I told them I got an A in Accounting and Intro to Finance as an undergrad.

Come OCI, if you tell a firm during a screening interview that you're interested in transactional work, but you've never taken an accounting class, they will be skeptical. You need every advantage possible nowadays to find a job, and being able to point to classes you've taken in the past to evince your interests and strengths will help.

Then, if you do happen to land a corporate job doing transactional work, fluency with basic accounting principles will make you better at your job. If a partner asks you to draft a standard loan agreement using a firm's precedent K (pretty basic), and you can't understand the meaning of a term requiring the borrower to maintain a certain working capital amount, you're gonna have a miserable time as a junior associate.


What about the certificate courses that some law schools offer with the corresponding business school? Penn has one of these, and I believe UVA does as well. Helpful at all to learn the basics of Finance/Accounting? A waste?

I got admitted to do a Diploma for Graduates in Accounting from LSE Distance but probably won't have time to do it before LS...maybe as a 3L? I don't know if it's worth it or not to try to fit this in.

My current Accounting/Finance knowledge? 0. lol

I think certificates like the ones at Penn (any maybe UVA, but I wasn't aware of theirs) are a great idea, and I wish they were more common at top schools. Again, anything you can think of to set yourself apart and play to strengths that firms hope and often expect you to have will be helpful. I've never heard of the LSE program, but you will be busy as hell in law school (it doesn't stop after 1L), and if it's the type of degree you can get while not physically being in London, it may not be worth it.

dooood
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby dooood » Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:07 am

Kiersten1985 wrote:I'm a 1L planning to go into corporate litigation and worked for two years before law school at a V5 in NYC.

Trust me - most lawyers in BigLaw do not have finance backgrounds. You can take whatever you need -if, in fact, you need to- in law school. Firms don't even see your UG transcripts. The only thing that matters from UG after UG is if you got into a good law school and did well there.

By all means, don't start taking classes that could F up your GPA. That's all you need to worry about right now. (I assume you're in undergrad.)

As someone else mentioned, firms hire consultants and expert witnesses for most finance cases. No judge is going to consider a lawyer "expert" enough on pure finance to be a credited source anyway.

Do you what you like and what will get you good grades. Period.

This advice is sound in that (1) a lack of a business background has traditionally resulted in zero impediment on the path to biglaw; and (2) your primary focus in undergrad should be on getting the highest possible GPA. You could follow this advice and be successful in most fields of law, but if you are set on transactional law, I would advise a different route.

A basic familiarity with accounting and finance principles will help you every step of the way (in law school courses, during OCI, and once you land a job) for the reasons I described above. The bigger point is that the work of a transactional lawyer really necessitates a grasp of these concepts. If anything, take the courses now to see if you actually want to be a deal lawyer; if you end up hating these basic business courses, then believe me you don't want to practice this kind of law.

It's also important to understand that biglaw is undergoing some changes right now. Many clients have become fed up with being charged billable hours by the work of first-year associate Spanish majors, and it's easy to see their frustration. It's logical that firms will address this concern by gearing their associate searches toward students with more practical skills, including previous work experience and undergrad training.

Again, your primary concern in both undergrad and law school should be getting the best grades possible. What your major was in undergrad doesn't matter, but being able to demonstrate an interest in transactional work through undergrad classes and summer employment will help you at the margins (i.e. beating out someone with a similar GPA). At the same time, it's in your best interests to make sure you know what you're getting into. I suggest you take both finance and accounting, try your hardest and see if you like them. If you don't, maybe litigation would better suit you. Either way, you'll be familiar with concepts that will be helpful in any corporate practice.

dooood
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby dooood » Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:12 pm

Here's a great article by Larry Cunningham on the topic. He (and a lot of other extremely smart people) believe that an understanding of accounting is also essential for a successful career in corporate litigation. The article explains in part how lawyers' inadequate understanding of accounting exacerbated the damage caused by Enron.
http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cac ... 1H2w2sYeFw

Oblivion_08
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby Oblivion_08 » Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:20 pm

What matters in an application:

40% LSAT
40% GPA
10% Work experience/Maturity in real world/No criminal record
9% Personal Statement
1% Your Major/What Undergrad school you attended

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gbpackerbacker
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Re: Is it unlikely for an liberal arts major to....

Postby gbpackerbacker » Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:26 pm

Oblivion_08 wrote:What matters in an application:

40% LSAT
40% GPA
10% Work experience/Maturity in real world/No criminal record
9% Personal Statement
1% Your Major/What Undergrad school you attended


I would say about

65% LSAT
30% GPA
5% Everything else




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