Why isn't everyone here who is gunning for Big Law trying to break in to finance instead? If you have an arts and letters background, you could get an MSF and jump into an entry gig at 60-70k and work your way into IB after a couple of years.
Also, corporate attorneys at the end of the day are little more than some banker's bitch. Bankers and lawyers work similar hours (with bankers' being a bit worse up until reaching Vice President) but bankers are paid substantially more.
What's the deal?
I worked in a VC so hopefully I can give you some insight
Lawyers ... In my area... at small 5 people firms make between 250 (new lawyers) to $750 an hour and they also make $1000, or $10,000 a DAY when they have to represent someone in a court. Lawyers make money whether or not they win or lose, do a good job or a shit job they still get paid the same in MOST cases, as they usually demand payment before work is done. Law requires no mathematical skill (a big challenge for well over 99% of the female population-except chinese girls- and maybe 80% of men.)
Lets contrast that to finance. You make $32-$37 an hour to work 80-90 hours a week. You WILL work on new years eve and New Year's day, you will work on boxing day and christmas eve, you won't really have a vacation and statutory holidays are work days and you never make overtime. You will never make $10,000 a day just to represent someone in court. You (the firm) doesn't get paid if there is no deal - unlike lawyers who get paid before they even start work with a retainer. 5 years ago the starting salary here used to be 150k with bonus for ibankers. Well it works out to 32-37 an hour. Unlike law you almost never have down time, when you are not doing nothing, there is always almost more work than time. Now the US ibankers are getting paid way worse per hour, as I heard they are often pulling like 60k-100k WITH BONUS in NYC/manhattan, which is insanely low.
Of those 21% of people good in math, they usually are good in science as well and things like dentistry, doctor, engineer are attractive careers for these people as they often are not as good in writing. Business requires strong writing and strong math skills. A very rare combination. I have friends in med school who have poor writing skills but are great with science and numbers.
Law requires going to an easy undergrad program like gender studies, doing well on the lsat, then getting into a good law school and your pretty much set.
O Yes, and you speak of breaking into Ibanking like its easy, it is not, at not where I am, there was a time 5 years ago when if you went to a school like Queens, Schulich, Ivey and finished with B+ or better you had a decent shot, but not anymore.(I'm speaking from toronto perspective). Also after 3 years 90% of i bankers are jobless, 10% are promoted, 90% not rehired, but almost all find some employment elsewhere. Pretty much you only have 2 ways to become an analyst, get recruited out of school, or know someone. ITE with all the unemployed bankers, you'll have no chance of breaking in without having worked in the bank in a similar role. For example, in the last time I did interviews, we had guys with 15+ years of finance experience as bond traders applying for analyst as 300 got laid off in one day. So if you think you can just pop up and get hired like in the 80s or the 90s, its not like that anymore. In fact, I bet more people get into Yale, then get into legitimate Ibanking this way.
Also if you do not have the courses or the internships, then forget about it. If you don't know how to build a financial model... in fact in VC we joke, that those are the only models that I Bankers get, I digress... then fuhgettaboudit you aren't getting the job. I was lucky enough to have an I banker mentor me who was able to prepare me for the interviews so that I could get a job, but its not realistic to expect that from everyone. In fact even with that I couldn't get into a major I bank, but got hired at a major VC firm only because my mentor pulled strings- thats it, undergrads do not get hired in VCs-, why, because ITE, only people who have family are being hired, ok thats a bit of an exaggeration, but its a very very high percentage. As in we have about 7-8 major banks and all of them have hundreds of ibankers, and they all know someone who wants in, so if you do not know someone, it will be VERY HARD to get in ITE. No joke, I went to interviews, had calls from vice presidents and presidents of I banks telling me we think your great, you have a future in banking but we chose to hire internally, all to find out later the "internal hire" was a teller who was related to someone in the bank, some vp, some associate, someone,