Eric Thompson


Eric Thompson ‘07

Title: Legal Counsel

Employer: State Street 

Major: Economics, BA


What do you enjoy the most about your position?

Being in a position to know how the global financial system works and being able to help influence it.

What is a typical day like in your position?

I wake up at 5 to 6AM and check my email.  Some days I will have meetings with Hong Kong and others I will respond to overnight emails from Asia or Europe.  I then eat breakfast and get ready for the day.  I start my US day usually around 8AM and have 1 to 5 hours of meetings to work through various issues ranging from financial modeling to meeting with regulators to presenting to senior management. I tend to block off the afternoon to avoid meetings so I can draft documents, answer complex questions, and conduct research. I typically try to shut down around 5 to take care of my daughter, but there are some days I have to continue.  In busy seasons, I can work regularly until 10PM and on occasion until 1AM.

How did you find your current position?

I applied directly, but I needed a law degree and years of experience in law, risk, and being a consultant. I find it is usually luck and circumstances that get me the role, but performing well, networking with people all the time, and applying to anything interesting is the only way to get your foot in the door when luck opens it. For clarity, I had no connections in the industry when I started.

Which undergraduate experiences did you find most helpful in preparing you for your current position?

My economics classes that included math and banking helped me the most with my specific career. My extracurriculars (student judiciary and mock trial team), internships (capitol intern and Conectiv trading), and study abroads might have served some role, but if you want to go into law, the unfortunate truth is grades and LSAT score, and then school and grades in law school are the predominant factor in getting a job.

How has your coursework helped you in your current position (i.e. quantitative skills, research techniques, communication skills)?

My economics classes in statistics, money and banking, and financial modeling taught me skills I use all the time to analyze financial issues. My business classes in using microsoft office, communication, and marketing helped me communicate my ideas to my colleagues. My post-grad law school courses helped me understand issues and make arguments.

Any job or internship advice for students seeking a position in your field?

If you want to go into financial services, try working for a regulator in DC. Whether the Fed, CFTC, SEC, or any other, everyone in the industry respects these jobs more than anything else, and Maryland's location in DC gives you a unique position to take advantage of them. Working for a financial firm (e.g., Legg Mason or Capital One) would also be a very strong internship.

Different things are important to different fields so it helps to identify where you want to go. For instance, law school only cares about grades and test scores, so extracurriculars almost hurt you by taking time and energy from those core metrics. Grad school and jobs out of undergrad will want to see research or related internships, so these are almost essential. Do other extracurriculars because you enjoy them or they will make you a more well rounded person. They may help, but you have limited energy and time.

What piece of advice do you have for students pertaining to being successful during the pandemic?

Be flexible, humble, and never be ashamed of not being where you thought you would be. I graduated into the 2008 financial crisis, and then when I graduated law school, it was the worst year in recorded history for hiring lawyers. I ended up not getting a job in my chosen profession and had to take something largely unrelated after 3 years of searching and 876 applications sent out. That first job ended up giving me good skills so when the market got better, I could jump to an even better job. I am relatively stable and happy now, but it is not at all the path I would have guessed I would travel.