CPA relevance to law school applications

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banjo84
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Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:29 pm

CPA relevance to law school applications

Postby banjo84 » Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:51 pm

Hey Everyone,

I am currently considering applying to law school and I would like some advice from people familiar with the law school application process. I am currently employed at one of the Big (final) 4 accounting firms and have been working there for 2 years (3 or 4 by the time I apply to law school) and I have my CPA license. I received my undergrad degree in accounting with a 3.3 GPA with a minor in business law (along with solid extracurriculars). I also have my MSA (accounting masters) with a GPA of 3.5. I have yet to take my LSAT, but I am quite confident in my test taking abilities. I passed all 4 CPA sections on the first shot (each test has about a 50% pass rate +/-3%). I know comparing the CPA exam to the LSAT may be a bit like apples to oranges, but I still believe I am quite capable of scoring 160+ with good preparation, of course!

I would only take on the costs of law school (debt!) if I were able to get into a top 25. I am aware people with their CPAs may overestimate how good it may look on a law school application, even though it is quite hard to obtain. I would appreciate it if I could get some input on what might be realistic expectations for me with the LSAT score being the only variable.

I would particularly like some advice on the relevance of a CPA license to law school apps, my undergrad vs. MSA GPA and Big 4 accounting experience.

Thanks for your advice!

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suits00
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Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:56 pm

Re: CPA relevance to law school applications

Postby suits00 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:20 am

Having a CPA license will probably help, as will your work experience, but schools—especially in the top 25—get a lot of applicants with advanced degrees and excellent work histories. I don’t believe it will make you that much more attractive in the law school application process.

Have you taken an official, previously administered LSAT exam (for practice)? The LSAT is much different than the CPA examination inasmuch that it doesn’t really require outside knowledge. You can’t memorize different laws, definitions, or rules and then regurgitate them on the test. It’s skills based and requires extensive practice for many people, although I've met a couple naturals.

May I ask why you want to attend law school and what you'd like to do with a J.D.?

d.schoenfeld16
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:17 pm

Re: CPA relevance to law school applications

Postby d.schoenfeld16 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:17 am

Kind of a general thing, but of the T14 schools, it seems that Northwestern would appreciate work experience like this the most.

lawhaus
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Re: CPA relevance to law school applications

Postby lawhaus » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:23 pm

correct me if i am wrong
doesn't a CPA @ big4 = solid career already? I know friends who are in this position. long work hours and reasonably good pay - why the switch to law? (for a career far less in demand)

banjo84
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:29 pm

Re: CPA relevance to law school applications

Postby banjo84 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:35 pm

There are quite a few reasons why I am considering law school. I have always been interested in it and enjoyed my business law classes in my undergrad. I also enjoy the professional service aspect of what I do now and I can handle the stress/long hours well. I also really enjoyed the research side of everything in my MSA course, which law involves a lot of as well. Those are pretty much the main reasons along with a little bit of plain old ambition.

The main argument I hear for against law school is the debt I will have to take on to pay for it. The way I see it, if I were to make it big in my firm I would have to take on a lot of debt to become a partner and buy into the firm, but a JD/CPA can make more along the way than just a CPA at an accounting firm. So I may as well just take on the debt now and enjoy the higher pay in three years. However, there is a soft job market out there from both demand (less job openings) and supply (students unable to find jobs going into law). That is why I would only really do this if I were to get into top 25 or so.

apollo2015
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Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:13 am

Re: CPA relevance to law school applications

Postby apollo2015 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:56 pm

There really isn't a "top 25". The more common division in that range are either the schools in the "Top 13/14" or the schools in the top 50 (Tier One).

According to http://www.lawschoolpredictor.com, with a 155 LSAT your best target schools are at Tier Two schools ranked around #80.

A 160 LSAT could get you Tier One schools like Maryland (#42) or American (#50).

165 can get you up to #18 (St. Louis).

Your odds at Northwestern are probably higher than it predicts, since your work experience sounds good. Talk with some Northwestern students (and browse their threads) to gauge just how competitive you would be in admissions there. Other than at Northwestern your CPA credential will be a soft factor, and not have much affect on where you get admitted. Masters' GPA is irrelevant.

Also, expect to receive scholarship offers from lower ranked schools. That will probably play into your debt-calculation calculus.

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Patriot1208
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Re: CPA relevance to law school applications

Postby Patriot1208 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:09 pm

banjo84 wrote:There are quite a few reasons why I am considering law school. I have always been interested in it and enjoyed my business law classes in my undergrad. I also enjoy the professional service aspect of what I do now and I can handle the stress/long hours well. I also really enjoyed the research side of everything in my MSA course, which law involves a lot of as well. Those are pretty much the main reasons along with a little bit of plain old ambition.

The main argument I hear for against law school is the debt I will have to take on to pay for it. The way I see it, if I were to make it big in my firm I would have to take on a lot of debt to become a partner and buy into the firm, but a JD/CPA can make more along the way than just a CPA at an accounting firm. So I may as well just take on the debt now and enjoy the higher pay in three years. However, there is a soft job market out there from both demand (less job openings) and supply (students unable to find jobs going into law). That is why I would only really do this if I were to get into top 25 or so.

B-school ---> equity research?

thetaxman
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Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:41 pm

Re: CPA relevance to law school applications

Postby thetaxman » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:51 pm

lawhaus wrote:correct me if i am wrong
doesn't a CPA @ big4 = solid career already? I know friends who are in this position. long work hours and reasonably good pay - why the switch to law? (for a career far less in demand)

Wanted to stop this here. Big 4 pay is dismal, and it only gets worse if you're at a smaller firm. Yeah, employment is steady and you have the chance to go to a F500 and work 50 hours a week. But the pay is absolutely embarrassing compared to biglaw (not every accounting grad ends up at Big 4), and from my limited understanding, the ability to move to in-house work is comparable to F500 accounting/finance.

This is from the perspective of an accountant applying for next cycle solely for financial gain.

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Patriot1208
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Re: CPA relevance to law school applications

Postby Patriot1208 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:32 pm

thetaxman wrote:
lawhaus wrote:correct me if i am wrong
doesn't a CPA @ big4 = solid career already? I know friends who are in this position. long work hours and reasonably good pay - why the switch to law? (for a career far less in demand)

Wanted to stop this here. Big 4 pay is dismal, and it only gets worse if you're at a smaller firm. Yeah, employment is steady and you have the chance to go to a F500 and work 50 hours a week. But the pay is absolutely embarrassing compared to biglaw (not every accounting grad ends up at Big 4), and from my limited understanding, the ability to move to in-house work is comparable to F500 accounting/finance.

This is from the perspective of an accountant applying for next cycle solely for financial gain.



Depending on the industry a Sr. manager or director pay in most corporate finance groups at f500's is, at the very least, comparable to biglaw. And 3 yrs at big 4 is enough, if you've been successful, to get into a manager role and three years in that role is enough to get you to that level. The point being, if you are successful at your job the expected value of staying in audit/finance is more than going to law school.




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