Alternative Careers Feature: an interview with Douglas Wawrzynski, Securities Compliance Investigator with the Utah Division of Securities (SJQ 2010)



How would you summarize what you do?

I investigate violations of Utah’s Uniform Securities Statute. The goal of the Division of Securities is to promote legitimate capitalization of business ventures while protecting Utah investors from fraud in connection with the offer and sale of securities. My job deals primarily with “off-market” fraud in which investors are offered unregistered securities by unlicenced individuals. I assist in the screening of incoming complaints. I am assigned my own case load which requires interviewing complainants who believe they are victims of securities fraud, I obtain and analyze bank records, provide an opportunity for both sides to explain the transaction, decide if the facts support a violation of the Uniform Securities Act, and make a recommendation to the Director of the Division of Securities if an investigation should be forwarded for an administrative action and/or referred to a prosecutor for criminal charges.

How did you find this job? 

I did not spend a great deal of job looking for a job before graduation. However after graduation I would routinely visit the computer lab in the law school library and dedicate a couple of hours to searching job sites and submitting applications. This job was posted on .

What do you love about what you do?

Prior to law school I had jobs that I dreaded going to each Monday. Now I can sincerely say I enjoy my work. I was immediately given real responsibility in my job and have significant latitude on how to get it done. I enjoy the dual benefit of feeling like I have a positive role in the community by working against investment fraud, while not interfering with individuals and businesses that follow the rules when raising capital.   On a practical level, right now it is comforting to be in a job that does not turn on whether or not I pass the bar exam. Having postponed taking the bar exam until February 2011, I am studying in earnest right now. Bar exam preparation is stressful enough without having to worry that keeping your job depends on passing the test. Also, my day to day responsibilities allow me to practice fundamental legal skills such as interviewing witnesses, legal research, writing and analysis. My job also routinely puts me in contact with both civil and criminal defense attorneys, as well as attorneys at the SEC and FBI.

What did you do before law school?

Before law school I worked in IT and more recently as a licensed financial representative at Fidelity Investments. I was later told my work experience prior to law school contributed significantly to the decision to hire me over other applicants.

When you came to law school, what did you think you wanted to do?

When I came to law school I hoped the degree would give me the leverage necessary to choose a career I would enjoy, rather than taking a job because it was available. Of course, the job market changed dramatically while I was in law school, so I consider myself fortunate to have found a job I really enjoy. When I came to law school I had a vague notion that I might practice securities law, but still took classes in criminal law, immigration, international law, and environmental law just to see if the areas interested me.

Did you ever practice law on behalf of clients?  If you did, do you use that experience in your current work/does it help you in any way?


 Do you ever wish you were practicing law?  Why or why not?

Even though I am not working as an attorney or law clerk, I still look forward to practicing law after the bar exam. In the meantime, this job enables me to learn the area in which I hope to practice. I am gaining valuable experience and skills that hopefully will make me marketable when the right career opportunity opens up, either within my division or elsewhere. I also feel like I am making important connections that may lead to the right opportunity at the right time in the future.

What advice do you have for law students?

Enjoy law school while it lasts. It’s really a pretty good way to spend three years.