A PhD’s career in law
By uczjsdd, on 18 November 2015
Dr George Kratsas has a PhD in Corporate Law and Financial Regulation from UCL, and now works as an Associate Solicitor at Ropes & Gray LLP. George spoke to UCL Careers about his post-PhD career.
How did you move from your PhD to your current role?
After studying law at undergraduate and Masters level, my passion for research led to me pursuing a PhD in financial regulation at UCL. During this period, I took on an interim role at an English law firm, Holman Fenwick Willan, in Brussels and taught law at Qatar University in Doha. Following my PhD, I briefly moved to Greece, my country of origin, and passed the Bar exam. In 2014, I returned to London and practiced financial regulation at Holman Fenwick Willan, first as a foreign qualified lawyer and later as an associate. I now work as an associate at an American law firm, Ropes & Gray.
What does your job involve?
I work in derivatives, specialising in transactional and regulatory matters. Financial regulation requires many hours of research and reviewing multiple regulatory documents. Transactional work, on the other hand, involves spending a lot of time studying a single transaction. A significant amount of time is also spent on ongoing legal training and attending conferences.
What skills gained from your PhD/postdoc are useful in your current role?
The most useful skills I acquired from my doctoral studies were good research practices and writing skills. It also gave me an opportunity to expand my legal knowledge. In addition, pursuing a PhD gave me time to think about what my next career step would be.
What are the best things about your role?
As regulations evolve, I am constantly presented with opportunities to learn and develop new skills. I also find it interesting that on a daily basis, my area of work will be addressed in the news.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Financial regulation and derivatives are extremely technical areas. Potentially, it takes several years of practice before an individual can gain a good understanding of them. This may discourage some people from practicing them in the first place.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
I recently joined Ropes & Gray LLP and plan on working for the firm for the foreseeable future. In the event that my circumstances change, I may consider an in-house position at a bank or a role working for the government such as at the Financial Conduct Authority.
What tips would you give our PhD students and early-career researchers wanting to move into your field?
At present, there is great demand for lawyers in the financial law sector in London, especially for regulatory roles. However, previous work experience is essential for securing a job. I would advise students to apply for interim positions alongside their doctoral studies. Qualifying under English law is also vital. I would recommend that students apply early for training contracts or, for foreign lawyers, to plan ahead for their qualification via QLTS.