How important is MS Excel?

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How important is MS Excel?

Postby Peg » Mon May 16, 2011 6:31 am

Don't know if I'm in the right forum - mods, feel free to move this if it should be moved.

I have a lot of friends who are working in banks, accounting firms, hedge funds, and other finance-related careers, and of course they need to know Excel to do their work. But they've also been telling me that knowing advanced Excel is really important in other fields as well, like corporate law.

I can't really see any situation where I would have to know advanced Excel in my future legal career, but then I'm pretty ignorant about what it means to practice law, so I need advice. Should I invest my time in learning advanced Excel this summer? Do biglaw lawyers need to know it? What advantages would it give you?

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Re: How important is MS Excel?

Postby Lwoods » Mon May 16, 2011 7:25 am

I love Excel and use it a ton in my current role in business. However, when I was a legal secretary for corporate attorneys, I was considered an Excel wizard simply because I knew how to set up Excel print settings. I saw very few spreadsheets, and those I did were very elementary. There were no vlookups, no pivot tables, no nested if statements (or regular if statements, for that matter). Maybe the younger associates, who are more self sufficient and didn't ask for my help as often, were working in Excel without my knowledge, but I doubt it.

Based on what I've observed, MS Excel is not important for you to know. However, as those in business do a lot of work in Excel, knowing the application might be a slight value-add because you'd better understand your clients' work. I'd prioritize familiarizing yourself with Word, particularly styles and track changes (though your firm may have another application they prefer over track changes), though, as you will be doing a lot of work in Word. Or really, just focus on the law part, because your firm and/or secretary will teach you what you need to know about any computer applications.


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Re: How important is MS Excel?

Postby Renzo » Sun May 22, 2011 2:16 pm

I second everything that Lwoods said. There are practice areas where Excel is useful, but for the most part it's pretty elementary and you'll be able to figure it out. If you happen to end up in one of the few areas where you would actually need to know it (a few tiny corners of tax, some finance work, etc.), just be really nice to your secretary and he/she will help you get up to speed.

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