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Lawyers Finding Jobs in the Financial Industry

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No corporation could long exist without a financial control center which may be known variously as the treasurer's office, comptroller's office or the accounting and finance department. In some corporations it also includes a separate and distinct internal audit department which on a day-to-day basis performs duties similar to those of an outside auditor, but in greater depth.

The functions of the financial office may vary somewhat according to the nature of the corporation's business activities. Its activities will probably include the establishment and maintenance of company-wide accounting and reporting policies and practices. These must be compatible with all applicable rules and regulations as well as meet the company's financial goal. If there is an internal audit department, the financial office will work with it to assure compliance.

The financial office will also develop and maintain a financial reporting and analysis system which permits management to develop both short-range and long-term planning. In addition, financial statements and reports must be prepared for investors, lenders, the SEC, the board of directors, financial analysts and investment bankers.

This office must also analyze the potential effect on the company's financial statements resulting from proposed equity changes, regulatory actions, changes in the world financial conditions and changes in accounting practices. It is responsible for the receipt, disbursement, banking, protection and custody of funds, securities and financial instruments. The office evaluates the need for procurement of funds and investment of surplus. In some instances, the financial office will also be responsible for customer credit arrangements and the negotiation of term loan agreements. Budget preparation and monitoring and financial forecasting are major responsibilities.

Because of the financial officers' day-to-day involvement in every aspect of the company's activity, it is not surprising that so many of the presidents of corporations should be drawn from their ranks. Many of these are lawyers as well. Keep in mind, however, that many organizations win require an MBA degree in addition to your legal training for employment in the financial area.

Opportunities in the financial area are not confined solely to industry. Opportunities can be found in the nation's banking and financial institutions, investment houses and brokerage firms.

Perhaps you are already aware that increasing numbers of trust officers in our banks are legally-trained persons. However, you may have been unaware that the numbers of commercial loan officers, mortgage officers, loan counselors and foreign exchange traders are also legally-trained persons.

Banks, insurance companies, and brokerage and investment houses often employ the services of financial analysts, some of whom are aided in their work by a legal background. These individuals analyze and interpret data concerning investments, their price, yield, stability and future trends, drawing their information from daily stock and bond reports, financial periodicals, securities manuals, and personal interviews. They summarize data setting forth current and long-term trends in investment risks and measurable economic influences pertinent to the status of investments. In some instances, they may transmit buy-and-sell orders to brokers based on their analysis.

Keep in mind that every financial institution also has its own internal financial controls office with functions similar to those of its counterparts in industry.

To check out what options a lawyer has in the financial services field, go to

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Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

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