When US corporations are accused of establishing monopolies or misleading investors, attorneys specializing in competition and securities law step in to settle the accounts.
In a recent high-profile antitrust lawsuit, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, declaring the organization’s prohibitions on educational benefits for student-athletes, such as the free tutoring and graduate scholarships, an illegitimate restriction of competition in the marketplace.
And in a closely watched securities lawsuit in 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission reached a $40 million settlement with tech titan Elon Musk and his electric car company Tesla, Inc., after Musk made comments about Tesla on social media that the agency deemed misleading. and it drove up the company’s stock price.
In major cases like these, antitrust or securities lawyers work to defend or oppose companies and executives. Below is a guide on how to train for a career as an antitrust or securities lawyer.
Antitrust and Securities Law: What is it and why is it important?
Federal law prohibits companies from engaging in certain anti-competitive business practices such as collusion, which can cause prices to spike or wages to fall. This area of law is known as antitrust law.
Federal laws and regulations also dictate the extent to which companies must be honest and transparent with their investors – a type of law known as securities law. Securities laws and regulations prohibit insider trading by executives and others who have access to company secrets that the general public does not.
The United States system of antitrust and securities guidelines aims to prevent and punish unethical or unfair market manipulation that is contrary to the public interest. These conventions are closely related and similar to consumer protection directives, and they are sometimes intertwined with banking and employment or labor decrees. Antitrust and securities provisions also affect corporate bankruptcy, financing, mergers or acquisitions, and tax requirements.
What Antitrust and Securities and Compensation Lawyers Do
Some antitrust and securities attorneys are litigators who represent clients in courtrooms, while others work behind the scenes as transactional attorneys who provide advice on how to set up business agreements. legitimate. Lawyers in these fields may also represent the government as law enforcement officials, regulators, or litigators.
Jobs in these aspects of corporate law tend to be more lucrative than most attorney positions. According to the Law Crossing legal jobs website, the average salary for antitrust attorneys and securities attorneys in the United States is around $118,000.
“They’re able to get very high rates on both counts,” says Jeffrey Lowe, global head of law firm practice at legal executive search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. “When you look at, for example, these huge tech cases involving Amazon or Google or Facebook or Apple, you have teams of lawyers in large firms or in many cases many large firms all billing thousands of hours on the subject, and therefore the costs they can generate are enormous.”
One thing that differentiates these narrow legal specializations from broader areas of law is that there are fewer people with expertise in these areas, which means less competition for desirable jobs, Lowe says. “It’s really a way to stand out from the generalized crowd.”
That said, opportunities in the sectors “come and go,” he says, and those jobs aren’t “recession-resistant.”
What it takes to become an antitrust or securities lawyer
Any aspiring lawyer who is fascinated by business or economics and wants to make sure the financial system runs smoothly should consider studying competition or securities law, according to experts in these disciplines. Estates tend to attract studious aspiring lawyers who are excited by the prospect of solving difficult intellectual puzzles.
JD courses in antitrust and securities regulation are generally elective, and it is possible to earn a JD degree without them. But any law student who wants to become an antitrust or securities lawyer should enroll, experts say.
“I think some people are scared off by (antitrust and securities law), because they seem harsh, but it can really be a differentiator in the job market to be able to tell a potential employer that you took corporate finance, you took antitrust (and) you took securities regulation,” Lowe says. “So I would encourage anyone in law school or thinking of going to law school: don’t look for the easy way out. Take the tough classes because you’ll be much better prepared when you finally start to practice.”
In transactional law jobs that involve representing businesses, he says, “it’s really beneficial to have some facility with financial numbers and models and (be) very knowledgeable about financial accounting, because you you are really at some level the consigliere of a company, and you have to advise them through a whole series of decisions, some of which are purely legal, but some of which can cross other silos like accounting (and) finance. “
Undergraduates considering a career in competition or securities law should take business management courses to understand and learn how to build relationships with potential future clients, Bartlett says. In law school, they should take courses in key areas of corporate law, such as business association law, corporate finance law, mergers and acquisitions law and tax law, he adds. -he.
According to experts, there are two classic ways to launch or accelerate a career in competition law or securities law. Lawyers may find work at a business law firm with large clients who have major antitrust or securities legal issues, or they may join a federal agency or department that deals with these matters. , such as the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Federal Trade Commission.
How to choose the right law school to prepare for
Someone who intends to major in antitrust or securities law should look for a law school that “has a strong general business law curriculum” and aim to acquire a broad range of legal skills. corporations, says Bartlett.
“Focus more generally on working with businesses by helping them raise capital, helping them organize and train, and advising them on strategic projects, which could involve antitrust considerations,” suggests he.