Actuary or Lawyer. Why not both?
September 30, 2007 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Actuary or Lawyer. Why not both?

After exploring both career fields I think that I would be happy in either. Both are years of hard work, and both seem like the end product is fairly versatile.

Any clear advantage to pursuing both? If I had to concentrate on one, which has the most versatile skill set?
posted by doppleradar to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It takes on average 6 years to qualify as an actuary. Another 5 years or so to establish yourself and develop mature, real-world knowledge. And you're working long, intense hours the entire time. The burn out rate is really high. You want to throw a law career into the mix? Uh...okay.
posted by randomstriker at 11:37 AM on September 30, 2007

Two sets of really hard tests? Um, ok.
posted by smackfu at 1:24 PM on September 30, 2007

Any clear advantage to pursuing both?
None I can think of.

which has the most versatile skill set?
posted by junesix at 1:50 PM on September 30, 2007

Any clear advantage to pursuing both?

You'd be one person in, I dunno, a quarter of a million with that skill set. Pulling numbers out of my arse, that means that there would be about 1000 people like you in America. I'd bet that a boutique consultancy would kill for someone with that skill set-- but it would work a lot better if that law degree was from a top-tier school.

If you wanted to work in industry, I'd bet that Manulife or the like would love to have you perform due diligence and valuation on acquisition candidates.

In other words, the demand for you would be pretty small. But so would the supply. And from that, the hard part is finding that demand.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:50 PM on September 30, 2007

being an actuary and a lawyer makes as much sense as being a:

-dentist/chicken farmer
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 4:25 PM on September 30, 2007

I'm wondering if you've really explored both career fields? I would've thought, as a lawyer, that the day to day experience of being an actuary v. the day to day experience of being a lawyer would be very different indeed.

In my experience, being a lawyer gives you a very reactive life - there's not much taking a project, working hard on it, and producing results. There's events, and reacting to them, and dealing with unexpected shit. It's kind of inherently unstable. I get a kick out of that, so bully for me. Other people hate it.

I don't know enough about being an actuary to contrast the two, but you might try and find someone who does.

One thing I realised when I left college was that the study of something, and the practice of that same thing are completely different experiences. I realised that some stuff I loved to study at college, i hated to work at, and vice versa. This is why practical experience of ordinary life as whatever it is you are thinking about becoming is invaluable. Maybe you've already looked into all this, but if you haven't, please try to before you make a choice.
posted by tiny crocodile at 4:31 PM on September 30, 2007

I could see it being somewhat useful in the Employee Benefits/Executive Compensation sector of law, but not useful enough to justify the intense amount of schooling it would take to get both degrees (and like Kwantsar said, you would really need a J.D. from a top notch law school).
posted by Falconetti at 4:59 PM on September 30, 2007

Do both. Despite what Mr_Crazyhorse says.

You can see which one you like.

The combined skill set would be very valuable. You would be able to understand both the legal documents involved in setting up financial instruments and the mathematics behind them.

Do hard math and financial mathematics. You don't have to pass the actuarial tests to make use of those skills. Similarly with legal training and bar exams.
posted by sien at 5:31 PM on September 30, 2007

As an undergrad that the hard math, so no matter where you end up wanting to go, you will be prepared. Hard math opens up a lot of options.

Second, find your school's shadowing program and shadow both. Then also try sitting in on grad classes if you can.
posted by melissam at 5:39 PM on September 30, 2007

Be an actuary first, work for a while, then go to law school if you still want to.

I am a database programmer slash lawyer. You have no idea how much it comes in handy.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:13 PM on September 30, 2007

Ms Vegetable is an actuary at a major insurance company.

Actuaries (that work in pricing and development) interact with legal frequently to make sure that their proposed rate schemes are in line with the huge quantity of regulation. Since both sets of skills are kept quite busy and they communicate well, the benefit to an insurance company of someone being both would be very marginal. Adding to this is that actuaries will work on plans for multiple states, which have different regulations. I don't know if they use lawyers who are bar-approved for every state that they advise on, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Have you really looked into what actuaries do and how (or why) they get licensed? They swim in data most days, interspersed with meetings. Getting a fellowship takes several years and 9 examinations, the last 5 of which require actual experience. Higher level actuaries oversee lesser ones and check their work.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:34 AM on October 1, 2007

Best answer: there are some actuary lawyers out there. it's not a bad skill to have but you have to be really motivated, because while there are great jobs out there that would require both, you'll have to work harder to find them, and probably end up in a consulting type role if you really want all that studying to pay off. some law firms hire actuaries and some consulting firms hire out their actuaries to law firms...there must be an intersection there. i can think of a few actuaries i know that are both...try searching the SOA selecting J.D. or other relevant educational degrees and nothing else in the search fields and see where those credentialed actuaries are working. maybe you can even email some of them, if they're in your city or something and talk with them about it. Looks like there's about 50 FSA JD's.
posted by Soulbee at 4:57 AM on October 2, 2007

Response by poster: Further research makes me think it might be good for patent law...thanks for the suggestions, I'll keep checking back
posted by doppleradar at 11:17 AM on October 12, 2007

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