Today, there are approximately 16,000 hedge funds in the world. In addition to working at hedge funds, lawyers also work at law firms that provide legal services to hedge funds, and some are employed by hedge fund investors. U.S. News & World Report publishes an annual list of the Best Law Firms for Private Funds/Hedge Fund Law. In 2020, the following firms were ranked highly:
Visit http://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/private-funds-hedge-funds-law to check out the complete list.
In addition to working in the hedge fund industry, lawyers are employed in related industries such as private equity, venture capital, and proprietary trading firms; investment banking; or financial consulting. There are countless opportunities for lawyers at government agencies, in the nonprofit sector, and with corporations of all types and sizes.
Many lawyers transition to careers in the hedge fund industry after working at private equity firms, investment banks, and venture capital firms, or in the corporate world. Others enter the industry straight out of law school.
The hedge fund industry is relatively small, and many new hires land their jobs as a result of contacts made through networking (online, school alumni networks, career fairs, volunteering at professional associations, etc.), or by making a strong impression with managing partners during internships or co-ops. Other job-search strategies include using the resources of one’s law school’s career center or checking out job listings online or in industry publications.
Although a growing number of hedge funds are adding lawyers to their staffs, only the largest firms employ a large number of attorneys. As a result, advancement opportunities at most firms are limited. At a large firm, a new graduate will start as an associate, then advance to the position of managing attorney. After 10 or so years on the job, a highly skilled managing attorney can advance to the position of general counsel—the top legal position at the firm.
Hedge Fund Alert publishes an annual list of law firms with large hedge fund practices at https://www.hfalert.com/rankings/rankings.pl?Q=124. Use this list to identify potential employers.
Attend hedge fund–related conferences to network, participate in continuing education opportunities, and to meet with potential employers. A list is available at https://www.managedfunds.org/events.
The Association of Corporate Counsel offers answers to frequently asked questions about resumes, cover letters, networking, interview strategies and preparation, and other job-search topics at https://www.acc.com/careers.