HLS Study: Major Law Firms Recommend Finance Classes

Law Firms' Preference of Academic Experience
A study published last week by faculty at Harvard Law School suggested that major law firms rated finance classes as more useful to law school students than those in other subjects.

Law students might want to consider taking classes on accounting, corporate finance, and financial statement analysis, according to a survey of major law firms published last week by several faculty at Harvard Law School.

The studywhich was conducted by Law School professors John C. Coates IV, Jesse M. Fried, and Kathryn E. Spierfound that 83 percent of the practicing attorneys interviewed believe students should take “Accounting and Financial Reporting” classes. Only 10 percent of attorneys, however, suggested taking a class entitled “Leadership in Law Firms.”

“The large law firms that hire Law School students have always generated most of their revenues by assisting businesses in structuring and litigating over complex financial transactions,” Fried wrote in an email. “What's different today, perhaps, is that law firms are under increasing pressure from clients to be more efficient, and so the bars for hiring and promoting associates have been raised.”

Fried and his collaborators asked 124 practicing attorneys at 11 major law firms to rate several Harvard Law classes on a scale from one, indicating “not useful at all” to five, indicating “extremely useful.” Classes in administrative law, constitutional law, and labor law all scored below 3.5.

With a score of 4.61, the Law School’s class on corporations received the highest score. Classes on “Securities Regulation” and “Mergers and Acquisitions” both received scores over 4.

Mark A. Weber, the assistant dean for career services at the Law School, said that students should not let the study go unnoticed.

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