Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

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MaineCourse
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Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby MaineCourse » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:26 pm

Which career pays more(I'd assume lawyer)-but by how much, and you have to go to school for longer. Basically, how would a career as an accountant compare to a career as a lawyer?

ixpresxi
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby ixpresxi » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:07 pm

i think it depends on what type of law you want to practice. salaries at big 4 firms dont even come close to starting salaries at big law firms, but cpa partners do very well and it does not require going to graduate school. im currently a practicing accountant making a little over 60K with no college debt and although i think its a good career path for those who stick it out, ultimately i would recommend doing what you think you are most interested in. personally i have grown very bored of accounting, cant see myself staying with the big firm, and am going back to school hoping to find something i am more passionate about.

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Trifles
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby Trifles » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:15 pm

What a soul-crushing decision, either way. :lol:

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DGLitcH
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby DGLitcH » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:16 pm

I think you definitely get more mobility in the corporate world as a CPA but as a JD, you start off with higher salary.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby Anonymous Loser » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:16 pm

This is a ridiculous question.

Being a lawyer with a prestigious Bay Area litigation boutique known for providing an excellent work-life balance would be better than working for H & R Block in Wichita Falls at $10.25 hourly during the tax season.

In contrast, being a lawyer with a debt-collection agency based in Detroit that has a high employee turnover rate and low salary would not be better than working as a CPA with a small, but very successful, private accounting firm that is well-placed in an affluent market.

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kn6542
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby kn6542 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:17 pm

MaineCourse wrote:Which career pays more(I'd assume lawyer)-but by how much, and you have to go to school for longer. Basically, how would a career as an accountant compare to a career as a lawyer?

THESE are the two options you've chosen?

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holydonkey
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby holydonkey » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:32 pm

depends on where you work as a lawyer and where you work as an accountant. KPMG or PWC you can make a ton in accounting.

MaineCourse
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby MaineCourse » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:32 pm

kn6542 wrote:
MaineCourse wrote:Which career pays more(I'd assume lawyer)-but by how much, and you have to go to school for longer. Basically, how would a career as an accountant compare to a career as a lawyer?

THESE are the two options you've chosen?


yes.

MaineCourse
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby MaineCourse » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:33 pm

holydonkey wrote:depends on where you work as a lawyer and where you work as an accountant. KPMG or PWC you can make a ton in accounting.


what does a senior partner at pwc in say San Fran pull in yearly?

jafadoo
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby jafadoo » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:33 pm

If you enjoy a career where original thought and creativity are not only not necessary, but are frowned upon, then definitely look into accounting.
Some people tend to enjoy that kind of stuff.
To become a CPA you are looking at doing at least 5 years of school, 5.5-6 might be more common, though it certainly isn't a very challenging program.
You can probably make in the high six figs if you are good enough to make partner at a good CPA firm, just like a law firm.

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chadwick218
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby chadwick218 » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:38 pm

I worked in public accounting for 5+ years before attending law schools so I can probably answer any specific questions that you have.

All said, new partners in public accounting earn b/w $250,000 and $300,000 and a couple of the more senior partners that I worked with earned b/w $600,000 - $1,500,000. Managing Partners in large offices earn more.

Keep in mind though, that it is much more difficult to make partner in public accounting than biglaw.

If you focus in biglaw, lawyers earn much more than CPAs. However, depending on what type of career that you pursue in law, this is not always the case.

dp23x
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby dp23x » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:08 am

chadwick218 wrote:I worked in public accounting for 5+ years before attending law schools so I can probably answer any specific questions that you have.

All said, new partners in public accounting earn b/w $250,000 and $300,000 and a couple of the more senior partners that I worked with earned b/w $600,000 - $1,500,000. Managing Partners in large offices earn more.

Keep in mind though, that it is much more difficult to make partner in public accounting than biglaw.

If you focus in biglaw, lawyers earn much more than CPAs. However, depending on what type of career that you pursue in law, this is not always the case.


I am currently thinking about doing my CPA with one of the Big4 and then attend law school after that. From what you have experienced, do you feel that the experience helped you getting in law school and do you think it will be a useful thing to have for someone planning on doing corporate law. Or is the 3 years likely a waste and not much help in the legal career? Thanks

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chadwick218
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby chadwick218 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:28 am

dp23x wrote:I am currently thinking about doing my CPA with one of the Big4 and then attend law school after that. From what you have experienced, do you feel that the experience helped you getting in law school and do you think it will be a useful thing to have for someone planning on doing corporate law. Or is the 3 years likely a waste and not much help in the legal career? Thanks


I think that it ultimately comes down to a personal decision. For me, I can't tell you how happy I am to have waited 5 years before attending law school. Not only was I able to gain valuable experience in terms of both business and organizational skills, but I was also able to build some equity that makes taking on $150,000 in debt over 3 years a lot less scary.

In terms of getting into law school, I do think that it helped. I had a very strong GPA, but a "relatively" weak LSAT score. I was pretty much WL across the T14 (in part b/c I applied very, very late in the process), but was able to pretty much crack Penn on down. Looking back, I wish that I would have taken one more year to master the LSAT, but I was ready to make the career move.

In terms of career prospects, I will be able to give you a better answer after Fall OCI. However, the firms that I have interviewed with thus far as a 1L seemed to have all been very excited to see the experience on my resume.

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chadwick218
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby chadwick218 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:32 am

I do have a few friends who are 3L's or recent graduates that spent 3+ years in public accounting. A few have commented that their law school grades will probably place them at the lower end of their starting classes at respective V50 firms. However, as all are very personable, so it's tough to draw any solid inferences on how much being a CPA helped.

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kn6542
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby kn6542 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:58 am

MaineCourse wrote:
kn6542 wrote:
MaineCourse wrote:Which career pays more(I'd assume lawyer)-but by how much, and you have to go to school for longer. Basically, how would a career as an accountant compare to a career as a lawyer?

THESE are the two options you've chosen?


yes.

Well, that's unfortunate.

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chadwick218
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby chadwick218 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:11 am

MaineCourse wrote:
holydonkey wrote:depends on where you work as a lawyer and where you work as an accountant. KPMG or PWC you can make a ton in accounting.


what does a senior partner at pwc in say San Fran pull in yearly?


Senior Partner in San Francisco? $600,000 to $1,000,000.

Again, keep in mind, that less than 5% of all people going into public accounting make partner. The % is probably a lot closer to 2%. Also, the amount of time required to make partner has increased considerably (on average b/w 12 and 16 years).

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chadwick218
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby chadwick218 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:14 am

MaineCourse wrote:Which career pays more(I'd assume lawyer)-but by how much, and you have to go to school for longer. Basically, how would a career as an accountant compare to a career as a lawyer?


MaineCourse, where are you at in this process? Do you have an offer to work with PWC in San Fran?

I am very biased on this subject matter, but I would strongly encourage you to consider working 3+ years in public accounting (especially if you have any interest in accounting) before considering attending law school. If after 3-5 years you are ready to make the switch to law, you will be a much better law student and possibly attorney (or at least marginally more attractive candidate when it comes to OCI and your job hunt) for gaining this experience.

MaineCourse
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby MaineCourse » Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:17 am

chadwick218 wrote:
MaineCourse wrote:Which career pays more(I'd assume lawyer)-but by how much, and you have to go to school for longer. Basically, how would a career as an accountant compare to a career as a lawyer?


MaineCourse, where are you at in this process? Do you have an offer to work with PWC in San Fran?

I am very biased on this subject matter, but I would strongly encourage you to consider working 3+ years in public accounting (especially if you have any interest in accounting) before considering attending law school. If after 3-5 years you are ready to make the switch to law, you will be a much better law student and possibly attorney (or at least marginally more attractive candidate when it comes to OCI and your job hunt) for gaining this experience.


Don't have any offers YET-because I'm still finishing undergrad. However, I like accounting-but also wouldn't mind going on and becoming a tax attorney.

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James Bond
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby James Bond » Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:09 am

Being an accountant would be even worse than doc review

jafadoo
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby jafadoo » Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:26 am

biv0ns wrote:Being an accountant would be even worse than doc review




TITCR

One can have no idea how tedious and mind numbing accounting work is until you actually do it.

Some will say the same about being a lawyer though.

Which is worse?
TITCQ

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Hattori Hanzo
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby Hattori Hanzo » Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:03 am

I used to worked as an auditor for a regional CPA firm and it wasn't that bad. The hours weren't crazy (1,700/year) and people took every single one of the 25 days/year PTO. The pay started at $58K though. My friends at big 4 don't even get that. $53K starting, 1,800 hrs/yr, 15 days of PTO and they always end up charging closer to 2000.

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MC Southstar
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby MC Southstar » Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:39 am

I heard accountant work sucks ass. It seems if you can pull it off, accounting can land you some nice gigs in the rest of the corporate/finance world though.

heyguys
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby heyguys » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:01 am

Why is it that the folks at big 4 accounting firms get treated like s&*(? What do they do afterwards that makes it worth it?

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Chairman
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby Chairman » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:00 pm

I spent 3+ years at a Big 4 firm, so I can add a little to this.

The average PwC partner (and presumably other big 4) makes ~600k / year (that's a "back-of-the-napkin" calculation--just dividing money available for distribution to partners by the number of US partners). A couple of local partners agreed that it sounds about right.

Not many people make partner at Big 4 firms. The accounting org chart would be a very bottom heavy pyramid compared to a law firm. The poster who said 12-16 years to partner is probably about right; they'll probably tell you 8-10 at recruiting events, but that's VERY uncommon in the real world.

If you're thinking of accounting, you need to make some distinctions. Public accounting is basically either audit or tax, with some folks who do consulting-typoe work. At the other end, you have lots of CPAs who make their money at small firms doing tax or accounting work for small businesses (i.e. they're the CPAs when someone says "My CPA told me to...."). And then you have the actual accountants (people making journal entries) at companies. All are very different worlds filled, in my experience, with very different types of people.

As far as an accounting/CPA background helping with law school admissions or law jobs....I'm hoping so, but I'll find out soon enough.

Renzo
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Re: Being a lawyer vs. being an accountant

Postby Renzo » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:05 pm

Forget both and become an Actuary.




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