Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

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APHill
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Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:36 pm

I am an experienced CPA from Big 4 going to a T30 law school. Can somebody with a similar background, or somebody who knows a friend with a similar background share actual experiences in getting internships, jobs, etc?

Lude000
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby Lude000 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:59 pm

My experience for 1L summer hiring was that firms and corporations generally looked fondly on CPA experience. Every single interviewer talked about my work experience and I'm pretty sure it was a strong consideration in granting me interviews in the first place. Two things held constant across all interviews: 1) So...you are interested in transactional work, right? 2) Why did you leave accounting?

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darknightbegins
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby darknightbegins » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:00 pm

The world will always need bean counters.

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:06 pm

what about needing lawyers who can put 2 and 2 beans together and get a 4?

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darknightbegins
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby darknightbegins » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:11 pm

APHill wrote:what about needing lawyers who can put 2 and 2 beans together and get a 4?


Nah, lawyers don't need to do that. We have bean counters for that.

Lude000
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby Lude000 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:16 pm

darknightbegins wrote:
APHill wrote:what about needing lawyers who can put 2 and 2 beans together and get a 4?


Nah, lawyers don't need to do that. We have bean counters for that.


I understand sarcasm is at play, but this reminded me that many of my interviewers also stressed the importance of financial literacy. So maybe not counting the beans, but being able to find them on a balance sheet.

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:24 pm

I keep hearing from board people that JD/CPA is not useful because you dont do taxes at a law firm (in terns of preparing tax return). Unfortunately, most of those people are Poli Sci or Philosophy majors without a good idea of what business law involves and what skills it requires.

Lude, can you tell the rest of your job search story?

Lude000
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby Lude000 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:48 pm

APHill wrote:I keep hearing from board people that JD/CPA is not useful because you dont do taxes at a law firm (in terns of preparing tax return). Unfortunately, most of those people are Poli Sci or Philosophy majors without a good idea of what business law involves and what skills it requires.

Lude, can you tell the rest of your job search story?


First off, people do do (ha) taxes at law firms. Maybe it's the misleading title of tax attorney that obscures that fact. Corporate returns maybe? There are also roles in estates that deal heavily with taxation and filling out of tax returns.

As for the rest of my story, I'm not quite sure what you are looking for. I had a fair amount of interviews, less actual offers, and I accepted one offer. Having professional services in a large firm environment is a good selling point (i.e. you have shown that you can work long hours, do mind numbing crap for hours on end, and obey the hierarchy). Having the CPA designation isn't a game changer, but it is evidence that you can probably take on the crap that will be thrown at you as an intern/junior associate.

I might totally be missing what you are looking for, though. Did you have any more specific questions?

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Wed Mar 31, 2010 10:13 pm

what is your actual background and do you think it was key in helping you get 1L or 2L job? Are you in school right now?

Lude000
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby Lude000 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:20 pm

APHill wrote:what is your actual background and do you think it was key in helping you get 1L or 2L job? Are you in school right now?


I'm in school now, 1L at t14. I worked as a CPA in audit at a big 4 for a couple of years prior to law school. I don't think my background was something employers were going crazy about, but it was something that they looked to as further evidence of my capabilities. I mean, if I was in the employer's position I would take past real world experience seriously because those of us that have it know that work and school are two entirely different things. Also, if you can explain how the experience you have is readily transferable to a legal setting, that is just one more reason to hire you. Again, I would say that my experience was not a game changer, but just an additional reason to consider me as a viable candidate.

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:30 pm

were you able to land a 1L internship?

Lude000
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby Lude000 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:10 am

APHill wrote:were you able to land a 1L internship?


Yes, I got a couple of offers and recently settled on one.

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:47 am

That is awesome, congrats, getting 1L internship is really impressive in this economy.

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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby Lude000 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:25 am

APHill wrote:That is awesome, congrats, getting 1L internship is really impressive in this economy.


That's another point that might weigh in favor of work experience actually meaning something. I didn't find the job search to be all that strenuous. I applied to like 30 things maybe and had something like 10 interviews. I'm certainly not top of my class, 25% maybe, and it didn't seem that hard to get people to talk to me. Just make sure your resume showcases the work you did; especially skills that transfer to the legal profession (memos, research, etc.)

How long did you work? What area were you in? What kind of stuff do you think you are going to want to do in the legal world?

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:39 pm

My background is external audit (mainly SEC) for about three years (promoted, CPA). Now for about a year I have been an out-of-state revenue agent for a western state on the east coast - auditing for sales tax and Business and Occupation tax companies hq'ed on East Coast but with nexus i nthe west...

I am really interested in M&A/securities but also copyright law (fluent in Russian). I am afraid that if I make it known i am interested in both it might hurt me actually. Last but not least - T28 school.

Why do you think that your xp was not a game changer? I mean you r quite competitive without it, as top 25 at T14 is still pretty hot. Do you feel your peers with no work xp did similarly?

Lude000
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby Lude000 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:26 pm

APHill wrote:My background is external audit (mainly SEC) for about three years (promoted, CPA). Now for about a year I have been an out-of-state revenue agent for a western state on the east coast - auditing for sales tax and Business and Occupation tax companies hq'ed on East Coast but with nexus i nthe west...

I am really interested in M&A/securities but also copyright law (fluent in Russian). I am afraid that if I make it known i am interested in both it might hurt me actually. Last but not least - T28 school.

Why do you think that your xp was not a game changer? I mean you r quite competitive without it, as top 25 at T13 is still pretty hot. Do you feel your peers with no work xp did similarly?


I guess the reason that I feel like work experience is not a game changer is because legal recruiting out of schools has been based on little or no work experience since forever. People have, are, and will continue to be employed with little or no work experience coming from law school. While work experience is a good thing, it is simply not one of the major factors for low level legal positions. I would say it is comparable to a "soft" for law school admissions. It's really the LSAT and GPA that matter for admission, but good softs can help in a close call.

With your background and your interests, I would look into the SEC summer honors law program for 1L employment. It is something I considered for this summer and you can just apply through their website.

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:19 pm

I have heard about the program, but I am trying to make money and I doubt SEC will be paying 3100 a week. So do you feel that your peers w/o work xp but with similar grades and effort put into getting 1L internship faced almost similar opportunities/chances?

How did you get in touch with all these firms - via your career services?

theantiscalia
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby theantiscalia » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:26 pm

I am also a CPA... I asked a couple of career offices this week how well they place CPAs, and their response was pretty much that it is far easier to place them then a kid straight out of undergrad... they said the firms really enjoy having somebody with work experience.

FWIW, one of the representatives told me that one of the bigger law firms in town (in St. Louis) actually doesn't hire people unless they have valuable work experience before LS (like being a CPA).

Random Rant: Why do people think CPAs do nothing but taxes? I spend most of my days reviewing legal contracts and advising my clients on the proper accounting treatment. (I'm part audit part consulting.)

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:41 pm

I think the real question is - does Lude think he would have had those 20 interviews and 2 offers for 1 L internship if he did not have the work xp and CPA. If the answer is - "No I probably would not" then work xp is a game changer as a necessary factor.

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:44 pm

theantiscalia wrote:I am also a CPA... I asked a couple of career offices this week how well they place CPAs, and their response was pretty much that it is far easier to place them then a kid straight out of undergrad... they said the firms really enjoy having somebody with work experience.

FWIW, one of the representatives told me that one of the bigger law firms in town (in St. Louis) actually doesn't hire people unless they have valuable work experience before LS (like being a CPA).

Random Rant: Why do people think CPAs do nothing but taxes? I spend most of my days reviewing legal contracts and advising my clients on the proper accounting treatment. (I'm part audit part consulting.)


To be fair, until I became acct major I thought that H&R Block was one of the Big 4 accounting firms. Stereotypes are always the most handy tools of reasoning. Most accountants in fact do external audits - bread and butter of the accounting firms...

theantiscalia
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby theantiscalia » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:46 pm

I also think it should be noted that Northwestern places extraordinarily high in the NLJ 250 stats (first, I believe)... not because they're the best law school in the country (they're simply not), but because they have a student body that is full of people with W/E. It matters... and the better work experience, the more doors are opened.

theantiscalia
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby theantiscalia » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:47 pm

APHill wrote:
theantiscalia wrote:I am also a CPA... I asked a couple of career offices this week how well they place CPAs, and their response was pretty much that it is far easier to place them then a kid straight out of undergrad... they said the firms really enjoy having somebody with work experience.

FWIW, one of the representatives told me that one of the bigger law firms in town (in St. Louis) actually doesn't hire people unless they have valuable work experience before LS (like being a CPA).

Random Rant: Why do people think CPAs do nothing but taxes? I spend most of my days reviewing legal contracts and advising my clients on the proper accounting treatment. (I'm part audit part consulting.)


To be fair, until I became acct major I thought that H&R Block was one of the Big 4 accounting firms. Stereotypes are always the most handy tools of reasoning. Most accountants in fact do external audits - bread and butter of the accounting firms...


I love the H&R Block comment... and I completely agree! (Now, that is where I'll go work if life goes horribly, horribly wrong.)

Lude000
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby Lude000 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:07 pm

APHill wrote:I think the real question is - does Lude think he would have had those 20 interviews and 2 offers for 1 L internship if he did not have the work xp and CPA. If the answer is - "No I probably would not" then work xp is a game changer as a necessary factor.


Like I said, I think it helped get me some interviews but I don't think it was a game changer. There are plenty of people with similar stats without work experience that got jobs too.

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APHill
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby APHill » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:49 am

Lude000 wrote:
APHill wrote:I think the real question is - does Lude think he would have had those 20 interviews and 2 offers for 1 L internship if he did not have the work xp and CPA. If the answer is - "No I probably would not" then work xp is a game changer as a necessary factor.


Like I said, I think it helped get me some interviews but I don't think it was a game changer. There are plenty of people with similar stats without work experience that got jobs too.


I underand that "like you said" you feel that way, just curious how statistically significant the differences between you and a comparable student without work experience are. For example, if probability for a top 25% w/o work experience to get a job was 50%(which would still be "plenty") but for a top 25% w work experience the probability would be 80%, then the work xp would be a game changer.

If in that case it would not be not a game changer then probability of getting a biglaw offer from top 10 (top 40-50% of class) is not a game changer over same probability at top 30 school (top 20-30% of class) because at University of Iowa there is still a "plenty" of students getting top jobs when compared to Harvard.

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TUP
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Re: Experienced CPA getting JD - Share experiences?

Postby TUP » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:58 am

Lude000 wrote:My experience for 1L summer hiring was that firms and corporations generally looked fondly on CPA experience. Every single interviewer talked about my work experience and I'm pretty sure it was a strong consideration in granting me interviews in the first place. Two things held constant across all interviews: 1) So...you are interested in transactional work, right? 2) Why did you leave accounting?


Are you saying a former CPA might be pigeon-holed? Based on my big 4 experience, transactional corporate law is the one area I know I'm definitely NOT interested in (as a 0L).




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