Legal Advisor vs. Financial Advisor: Key Differences

Updated September 30, 2022

If you're seeking a career as a financial or legal advisor, it's important to understand the differences between each career path. Both legal and financial advisors offer pertinent advice and guidance for their clients, but use different skills and methods. Understanding these key differences can help job seekers establish a fundamental knowledge of each career path and decide which is right for their specific career goals.

In this article, we describe what a legal advisor and financial advisor is and explore the key differences between a legal advisor vs. financial advisor.

Legal advisor vs. financial advisor

Legal and financial advisors work with similar skills, methods and goals, but operate in different business sectors. It's important to understand the definition for each career path so you can better understand their responsibilities and necessary skills.

What is a legal advisor?

A legal advisor is someone who works in the legal sector and provides advice on legal matters for their clients. They might advise clients on legal proceedings, business legality, general laws, tax codes and other legal concerns. They are typically well-versed in specific areas of law and often have a degree in law. Legal advisors are almost always licensed attorneys, as any legal advice requires a thorough understanding of municipal, state and federal laws and procedures. Legal advisors can sometimes offer financial advice in legal matters, such as estates, wills or business proceedings.

Related: 11 Top Wealth Management Certifications and How To Get One

What is a financial advisor?

A financial advisor is someone who offers pertinent advice and guidance to their clients on financial matters. This can include investments, wealth management, business finance or reaching specific financial goals. For example, if an investor wants to achieve a 15% return in their portfolio over the first half of the year, they might consult a financial advisor. They might also consult the advisor when they realize those returns and need advice on where to reinvest or save their earnings. Financial advisors also work with businesses, helping them better understand their financial health and how to reach the company's financial goals.

Related: 8 Popular Finance Degree Jobs

Key differences

To better understand the role of legal and financial advisors, it's important to understand the key differences between these career paths. Consider these differences:


One of the key differences between a legal advisor vs. financial advisor is the education level that each career path requires. A legal advisor is almost always a licensed attorney, which means candidates complete a bachelor's degree, complete law school and must pass the BAR exam in their respective state. Many attorneys pursue a master's degree, which isn't a hard requirement but may increase their opportunities for work. A financial advisor typically has a bachelor's degree, but this is the minimum requirement to work as an advisor in the financial sector. Some advisors pursue graduate degrees to maximize hiring appeal.

Related: 16 Best Non-Legal Jobs for Lawyers


Another key difference between legal advisors and financial advisors is their annual salaries. A financial advisor can earn an average national salary of around $78,973 per year. Legal advisors can earn an average national salary of about $102,652 per year; a significant difference. For both careers, the candidate's level of experience and education typically influences their salary, but many legal careers offer a higher starting salary because they require more training and the work can be more sensitive. Legal matters require a level of expertise that can take years to accomplish and depends heavily on accuracy.

Related: Wealth Management Advisor: Definition and How To Become One

Job duties

Another difference between these two advisor career paths is their core duties. While both career paths are similar in that they offer advice to clients, the nature of their advice, how they deliver it and how the client uses it can be vastly different. For example, a legal advisor might advise a business to seek a patent as soon as possible on a new product, where a financial advisor might advise the same company on its investment goals. Here are some duties to consider for each career:

Financial advisor

  • Provides financial advice

  • Completes financial documents

  • Discusses financial goals with clients

  • Helps businesses establish financial standing and pursue goals

Legal advisor

  • Provides legal guidance for businesses, individuals or other law professionals

  • Interprets laws and provides guidance on the meaning of those laws

  • Completes and files certain legal paperwork

  • Represents clients in legal matters

Related: 11 Jobs That Involve Giving Advice to Others (With Duties)

Work environment

Both legal advisors and financial advisors also share some differences in their respective work environments. For example, a financial advisor might work exclusively in an office setting, meeting with clients and talking on the phone from their desk. While a legal advisor might work in a similar environment, they typically work in courtrooms and other legal settings when they're not in the office. They might also have to travel more to meet with clients or back and forth between the court and the office.

Related: 20 Types of Financial Advisors (With Salaries and Duties)

Core skills

Legal and financial advisors share some similar skills, as they both interpret information and provide advice. They also have some key differences in their core skill sets, including:

Financial advisors

  • Strong strategic planning skills for financial goals

  • Mathematics skills

  • Accounting or financial software skills

  • Experience in a financial environment, such as banking or investing

Legal advisor

  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills

  • Strong understanding of laws and legal procedures

  • Documentation skills

  • Legal representation proficiency

Related: 20 Legal Career Opportunities

Job outlook

Another difference between these two careers is their job outlooks. The BLS reports that personal financial advisors can expect a slight increase in job availability through 2030, with growth up to 5%, or around 13,000 jobs. While there isn't specific information available for legal advisors, you can use the information for lawyers, since most legal advisors are licensed attorneys. The BLS reports that attorneys can expect a job availability increase of around 9% through 2030, or around 72,000 additional jobs added to the market.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.

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