Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

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Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:47 pm

I am wondering about my chances with Big 4 Accounting firms. I struck out in OCI and mass mailing with 50 interviews and solid JD credentials. No need to call me a psychopathic idiot. I have made other threads for that purpose: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=194875. I have body language issues and a voice indicative of being on the autism spectrum, so I fear I may never work in big law, with the market as competitive as it is.

I am wondering if Big 4 Accounting (for tax) is a better bet. I went to a recruiting event for one of these, and a lot of their staff was shy and much less talkative than I'm used to at law firm events. Some of my fellow candidates seemed like they might even have more severe autism than I do (if I do, I am in the process of getting diagnosed now).

Does anyone know if there's an equivalent of TLS with Big 4 accounting firms, if no one here can educate me on the dynamic of big 4 recruiting?

Oh, and if I am going to pursue this route, especially if it involves doing a double degree (1 year MaCC), is there any point in staying on law review? I'm kind of getting sick of hearing people talk about all their big law offers.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

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dextermorgan
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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby dextermorgan » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:52 pm


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Lasers
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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Lasers » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:19 am

my buddy works at a big 4 accounting firm. it's quite a bit of work for shit pay. it is easier to get, though i don't think they're anti-social on the whole. my buddy says his office is a "fratty" bunch.

if you come off as weird in interviews, it's going to be tough, regardless.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:36 am

Lasers wrote:my buddy works at a big 4 accounting firm. it's quite a bit of work for shit pay. it is easier to get, though i don't think they're anti-social on the whole. my buddy says his office is a "fratty" bunch.

if you come off as weird in interviews, it's going to be tough, regardless.


I never had trouble with job interviews before big law, though, and I can get state gov't offers for pipeline positions with interviews.

I am wondering if big 4 is more like big law or more like normal job interviews. There were a lot of fairly quiet, understated people at the recruiting event I attended. It was definitely a different vibe from Locke Lord's dinner, for example. I am, of course, comparing this to Texas Big Law. Is "fratty" perhaps a relative term? Is it going to be better for big 4 just because there is less competition? I know big 4 interviews are also primarily about personality, but how does the nature of the big 4 applicant pool compare to the nature of the big law applicant pool in this respect?

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:03 am

What do you actually want to do? Perhaps youre not doing as well as you want in interviews because you don't seem to really want to do anything other than make $$. If you wanted to be a lawyer so badly then that would come off in interviews. You should stick with it. Now you want to be an accountant? It sounds like you don't know what you want to be and that's what's hurting you.

EDIT: sorry if this came off as being mean. I didnt mean it like that. But if you really want to be a lawyer, you clearly have the talent and ability. Just because you face a little adversity doesn't mean you should quit. Unless you don't really want to be a lawyer in the first place and you just want to make $$$$. In which case, you should figure out what you want to do, because this lack of enthusiasm is probably what is hurting you in interviews. If you really want to do law, even midlaw may pay much more than Big 4 accounting and may not be TOO MANY MORE hours.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:12 am

Have a friend at a Big 4. Told me that starting was like 55k but they work only a little less than big law hours. Did not sound like the business for me but a job's a job in this economy.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:44 am

Actually, I'm pretty sure I don't want to practice law at a firm after my experience of being discriminated against on the basis of what is soon to be a documented disability. My speaking and interviewing ability are fine. I worked hard with the CSO to polish it. The just don't like the sound of my voice or, likely, the lack of expression on my face. That is illegal but probably impossible to prove in court. It will also take a long time to change with professional help, and law firm recruiting season is over.

I am just looking for something else to do with my (free) law degree. If I can't find anything, I will, of course, quit law school. So far, this thread has not been very encouraging.

Big 4 lawyers actually get paid ok, mid law doesn't exist, and big 4 partners make as much as big law partners. The starting salary is not what's concerning me. It's whether the environment is a better fit. It seems that they hire more minorities and non-hot women than big law, so perhaps they are also more open to those with disabilities. I wish I knew.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:37 pm

I used to work big4 accounting before law school. I started at $47K, you will get ~$55K or even a bit more depending. I know that you get higher starting salary for having advanced credentials, so even a bit more than those figures might be possible. My experience was that the stress level and hours requirements far exceeded what they should be for the pay. During "busy season" you will be billing a minimum of 55 hours a week, which will be more like 60-70 billed. The most I ever billed was 96 hours in a week. All for $47K annually...

If it were my only option, I would still take it. Your exit options won't be too bad after putting in a few years. I would be happy to PM you to discuss a little further, one of my relatives works at a big4 as an attorney so I've seen it from their perspective as well.

de5igual
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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby de5igual » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:46 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Have a friend at a Big 4. Told me that starting was like 55k but they work only a little less than big law hours. Did not sound like the business for me but a job's a job in this economy.


55K is probably for Accountants. Tax attorneys probably come in as a "senior" and start at around 60-70K. While pay is definitely less than biglaw, big4 benefits are much better than biglaw ones.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Actually, I'm pretty sure I don't want to practice law at a firm after my experience of being discriminated against on the basis of what is soon to be a documented disability. My speaking and interviewing ability are fine. I worked hard with the CSO to polish it. The just don't like the sound of my voice or, likely, the lack of expression on my face. That is illegal but probably impossible to prove in court. It will also take a long time to change with professional help, and law firm recruiting season is over.

I am just looking for something else to do with my (free) law degree. If I can't find anything, I will, of course, quit law school. So far, this thread has not been very encouraging.

Big 4 lawyers actually get paid ok, mid law doesn't exist, and big 4 partners make as much as big law partners. The starting salary is not what's concerning me. It's whether the environment is a better fit. It seems that they hire more minorities and non-hot women than big law, so perhaps they are also more open to those with disabilities. I wish I knew.


Only hot women get hired by biglaw? Wish I knew...

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Professor_Rau » Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I used to work big4 accounting before law school. I started at $47K, you will get ~$55K or even a bit more depending. I know that you get higher starting salary for having advanced credentials, so even a bit more than those figures might be possible. My experience was that the stress level and hours requirements far exceeded what they should be for the pay. During "busy season" you will be billing a minimum of 55 hours a week, which will be more like 60-70 billed. The most I ever billed was 96 hours in a week. All for $47K annually...

If it were my only option, I would still take it. Your exit options won't be too bad after putting in a few years. I would be happy to PM you to discuss a little further, one of my relatives works at a big4 as an attorney so I've seen it from their perspective as well.


I would be interested in a PM. Thanks

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:27 pm

f0bolous wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Have a friend at a Big 4. Told me that starting was like 55k but they work only a little less than big law hours. Did not sound like the business for me but a job's a job in this economy.


55K is probably for Accountants. Tax attorneys probably come in as a "senior" and start at around 60-70K. While pay is definitely less than biglaw, big4 benefits are much better than biglaw ones.


Curious about the benefits part of this. I was under the impression that BigLaw benefits are pretty much top-notch across the board. Am I mistaken?

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby sparty99 » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:47 pm

Big 4 is not easy to get if you don't have an accounting background. Your success at a Big 4 will depend on who your manager is. The industry is very collegial. Success at a Big 4 will be no different than BigLaw. You will be required to interact with people on your accounting team, meet Partners across the firm, and one day, you will be responsible for building a business and bringing in clients.

Accountants are known to be "boring" and "stale," but so are lawyers. People work at the Big 4 and leave once they hit Senior Associate or Manager, where the options in Accounting fields are very attractive (controller, internal audit with less travel). Passing the CPA means more money.

But you kind of sound like a baby. You continue to post on these boards talking about your "problems" and "issues." If you have body language issues, no employer is going to hire you. Accountants work with clients. Do you think a partner is going to want you on his team if you make the client uncomfortable? NO.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:15 pm

I have a friend with mild asperger's. He passed some actuary exams and started out making 130k for an insurance company.

de5igual
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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby de5igual » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
f0bolous wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Have a friend at a Big 4. Told me that starting was like 55k but they work only a little less than big law hours. Did not sound like the business for me but a job's a job in this economy.


55K is probably for Accountants. Tax attorneys probably come in as a "senior" and start at around 60-70K. While pay is definitely less than biglaw, big4 benefits are much better than biglaw ones.


Curious about the benefits part of this. I was under the impression that BigLaw benefits are pretty much top-notch across the board. Am I mistaken?


Aside from maybe a few firms, benefits are probably the worst out of biglaw than other professional service type jobs. There's typically no 401k-match and health insurance is barely subsidized. There are probably more benefit drawbacks, but those are the first two I can think of.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:35 pm

lol @ benefits better than biglaw, have an offer at one of the big4 and seems like benefits are paltry in comparison.

OP: FWIW, having gone through a big4 callback, I can say that it was very similar to biglaw, had a few interviews, followed by lunch, and met a lot of the firm's people, and in my experience, like biglaw attorneys, a lot of them think they are single-handedly keeping the world turning. To me, it seemed very similar to biglaw only with less pay, less benefits, less interesting work, but they are less selective, so if you have the grades they might be willing to overlook personality.

ETA: yes stay on law review as painful as it might be, the more solid your credentials, the more willingly a big4 firm will overlook character issues. Also, have some kind of story for why big4 over law firm.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:lol @ benefits better than biglaw, have an offer at one of the big4 and seems like benefits are paltry in comparison.

OP: FWIW, having gone through a big4 callback, I can say that it was very similar to biglaw, had a few interviews, followed by lunch, and met a lot of the firm's people, and in my experience, like biglaw attorneys, a lot of them think they are single-handedly keeping the world turning. To me, it seemed very similar to biglaw only with less pay, less benefits, less interesting work, but they are less selective, so if you have the grades they might be willing to overlook personality.

ETA: yes stay on law review as painful as it might be, the more solid your credentials, the more willingly a big4 firm will overlook character issues. Also, have some kind of story for why big4 over law firm.


How about: "I didn't find the practice of law to be intellectually challenging enough because none of it is quantitative whereas working at an accounting firm (I would be CPA-eligible by this time) allows me to work on projects that are both analytical and quantitative"

Or "I decided to add a MAcc because, given my interest in securities and valuation, I wanted to do audit, an opportunity not found in law firms" Or "I decided that working for an accounting firm would provide more opportunities for international work [true], allowing me to work towards an assignment in Country X where I am proficient in language X [a super important language for business]"

So, is it going to hurt my chances at big 4 if I just work a paid city government job over the summer, or an unpaid state AG's office job, if big fed doesn't come through--as opposed to a law firm job-- that involves some tax issues and put off recruiting a year while I seek professional help for my social problems? I could go through accounting recruiting next fall when I begin the MAcc program (called an MPA at my school).

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Watermelon Man » Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How about: "I didn't find the practice of law to be intellectually challenging enough because none of it is quantitative whereas working at an accounting firm (I would be CPA-eligible by this time) allows me to work on projects that are both analytical and quantitative"

Or "I decided to add a MAcc because, given my interest in securities and valuation, I wanted to do audit, an opportunity not found in law firms" Or "I decided that working for an accounting firm would provide more opportunities for international work [true], allowing me to work towards an assignment in Country X where I am proficient in language X [a super important language for business]"


You sound like you're lying and like you're trying to sound smart. Start with the absolute honest truth. It's okay to "spin" your answers a little bit. But you must be honest because people see right through horseshit like this.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:11 pm

Watermelon Man wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How about: "I didn't find the practice of law to be intellectually challenging enough because none of it is quantitative whereas working at an accounting firm (I would be CPA-eligible by this time) allows me to work on projects that are both analytical and quantitative"

Or "I decided to add a MAcc because, given my interest in securities and valuation, I wanted to do audit, an opportunity not found in law firms" Or "I decided that working for an accounting firm would provide more opportunities for international work [true], allowing me to work towards an assignment in Country X where I am proficient in language X [a super important language for business]"


You sound like you're lying and like you're trying to sound smart. Start with the absolute honest truth. It's okay to "spin" your answers a little bit. But you must be honest because people see right through horseshit like this.


For one who takes time off from law school to add a CPA qualification, is it really necessary to have an explanation for why an accounting firm over a law firm? Maybe I like the opportunity to work with numbers as well as words.

The absolute honest truth is that I believe the competition for accounting firm jobs is less stiff, I don't like being around lawyers, accounting firms are less conservative than law firms, and big 4 has better exit options than the low-level government jobs that would likely be available to me if I stuck with just law. By the time I am able to fix my shitty personality, it will likely be 3L, and law firms hardly ever hire 3L's that didn't work at a firm.

I don't think these are appropriate things to say in an interview, however.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Watermelon Man wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How about: "I didn't find the practice of law to be intellectually challenging enough because none of it is quantitative whereas working at an accounting firm (I would be CPA-eligible by this time) allows me to work on projects that are both analytical and quantitative"

Or "I decided to add a MAcc because, given my interest in securities and valuation, I wanted to do audit, an opportunity not found in law firms" Or "I decided that working for an accounting firm would provide more opportunities for international work [true], allowing me to work towards an assignment in Country X where I am proficient in language X [a super important language for business]"


You sound like you're lying and like you're trying to sound smart. Start with the absolute honest truth. It's okay to "spin" your answers a little bit. But you must be honest because people see right through horseshit like this.


For one who takes time off from law school to add a CPA qualification, is it really necessary to have an explanation for why an accounting firm over a law firm? Maybe I like the opportunity to work with numbers as well as words.

The absolute honest truth is that I believe the competition for accounting firm jobs is less stiff, I don't like being around lawyers, accounting firms are less conservative than law firms, and big 4 has better exit options than the low-level government jobs that would likely be available to me if I stuck with just law. By the time I am able to fix my shitty personality, it will likely be 3L, and law firms hardly ever hire 3L's that didn't work at a firm.

I don't think these are appropriate things to say in an interview, however.


I posted above saying you should have an answer to this "why accounting firm" question, I hadn't realized you were already picking up accounting creds, that's already pretty convincing. It sounds like you've thought about this and want big4, I think you should go for it and see what happens. Best of luck.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:16 am

Watermelon Man wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How about: "I didn't find the practice of law to be intellectually challenging enough because none of it is quantitative whereas working at an accounting firm (I would be CPA-eligible by this time) allows me to work on projects that are both analytical and quantitative"

Or "I decided to add a MAcc because, given my interest in securities and valuation, I wanted to do audit, an opportunity not found in law firms" Or "I decided that working for an accounting firm would provide more opportunities for international work [true], allowing me to work towards an assignment in Country X where I am proficient in language X [a super important language for business]"


You sound like you're lying and like you're trying to sound smart. Start with the absolute honest truth. It's okay to "spin" your answers a little bit. But you must be honest because people see right through horseshit like this.


I'd first start with something simple, like I don't like law. It just wasn't really for me because of the grayness, vagaries, the adverserial nature of litigation...something like that. Many people go to law school and decide they don't like it. Usually for reasons like these. Tell them you really like math better, you like that you actually get answers and there are set procedures accountants need to follow. Or something like that. It sounds alot more truthful and "real" I think. If I learned anything from law school OCI, its that firms want real people. They dont want some BS you read on the internet or some staged answer you've rehearsed 100 times. They want to get to know you as a person. Tell them, law just wasnt for you. Even though you did well, and had the skills, (SHOWS A POSITIVE), you just didnt enjoy it.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:54 am

Watermelon Man wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:How about: "I didn't find the practice of law to be intellectually challenging enough because none of it is quantitative whereas working at an accounting firm (I would be CPA-eligible by this time) allows me to work on projects that are both analytical and quantitative"

Or "I decided to add a MAcc because, given my interest in securities and valuation, I wanted to do audit, an opportunity not found in law firms" Or "I decided that working for an accounting firm would provide more opportunities for international work [true], allowing me to work towards an assignment in Country X where I am proficient in language X [a super important language for business]"


You sound like you're lying and like you're trying to sound smart. Start with the absolute honest truth. It's okay to "spin" your answers a little bit. But you must be honest because people see right through horseshit like this.


So what's the best way to lie in these situations? I imagine the majority of law students go into big law knowing they will hate it and just do it for the exit options.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:17 pm

f0bolous wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
f0bolous wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Have a friend at a Big 4. Told me that starting was like 55k but they work only a little less than big law hours. Did not sound like the business for me but a job's a job in this economy.


55K is probably for Accountants. Tax attorneys probably come in as a "senior" and start at around 60-70K. While pay is definitely less than biglaw, big4 benefits are much better than biglaw ones.


Curious about the benefits part of this. I was under the impression that BigLaw benefits are pretty much top-notch across the board. Am I mistaken?


Aside from maybe a few firms, benefits are probably the worst out of biglaw than other professional service type jobs. There's typically no 401k-match and health insurance is barely subsidized. There are probably more benefit drawbacks, but those are the first two I can think of.


401K match among people making 160k is fairly uncommon in general, isn't it? At that income level, I'd imagine people have way more disposable income to sock away. That potential would certainly nullify the tax incentives most corporations rely on when they engage in matching. Not to mention, with firms averaging something like 20% turnover of their associates per year, how many of those matches would even vest assuming the standard (at least i think it's standard) 3 years to vest?

I can't speak to health insurance, but the non-matching of 401k contributions is a reality of the income bracket, not something specific to BigLaw.

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Re: Big 4 Accounting vs. Big Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:24 pm

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