A securities lawyer has three areas of responsibility: stay informed on new laws and legal rulings related to securities, work with clients, and act as a resource. As a securities lawyer, the primary focus is working for corporate clients. Every large firm that is trading its stock on the securities market typically has a securities lawyer or firm on retainer. In addition to this role, securities lawyers can work for government agencies in enforcement or ligation.
In order to become a securities lawyer, you must successfully complete law school. In North America, this is essentially a graduate degree, as all applicants must complete at least two years of a bachelor's degree to apply. Candidates interested in securities are well advised to complete a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or business. This is a very complex field, and a solid understanding of business accounting and financial practices is required to be successful.
People who enjoy complex puzzles, are voracious readers, and enjoy wrestling with complexity find the greatest amount of success in this role. Securities laws are exceedingly complex and the lawyers who are attracted to this field are usually detail-oriented. Positions in enforcement or litigation are very challenging due to the complexity of the issues, as well as the skill and creativity of the corporate law firm.
Securities lawyers are required to stay current on all changes and developments in securities laws. In the wake of several large financial scandals in the late 1990s and the financial collapse of 2008, many courts took a closer look at securities issues and made a series of precedent-setting decisions. While some of these may be overturned in time, it is an excellent example of how quickly laws in this area can change.
Interacting with the client is an important part of the role of a securities lawyer. He or she is typically involved in conflict resolution, providing guidance on company policy, protecting the company during audit, and dealing with litigation. In this role, conflict resolution and effective communication is critical.
In most companies, the securities lawyer plays an important role as expert resource. When determining new policy or company procedures, executives in senior management may need to obtain a legal opinion from the securities lawyer before making a decision. Accuracy and a clear communication of benefits and risks are essential. The ability to work well with a wide range of people, resolve problems quickly, and share information and experience with staff are important skills.