Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

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Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:25 pm

NYU/G-Town Tax LLM student. Graduated from T40 top-third and mostly As/A-s in tax classes during JD. Some relevant tax experiences during law school (clinic, internships).

Received offers from 2 of Big 4 International in one of the major markets.

I'm curious about the following, especially international:

1) The nature of the work (structuring, compliance, controversy even with Sarbanes-Oxley)?
- Both firms seemed to sell that there won't be compliance work and mostly drafting legal memos for structuring work. I'm not buying it yet.
2) Career projections (promotions, exit ops),
- How long from associate to senior associate, then to manager? Are lawyers treated differently? Is Biglaw ever in the run?
3) Pay scale progression (Year to year raise %?, bonus %?)
- Ran excel spreadsheet based on some assumptions and it seems dismal at least until Manager, but I hope to be proven wrong.
4) Hours?? (Some say biglaw light, others say substantially better, some say as bad as biglaw w/o biglaw $)
- What time do you usually get out?? Weekends? Do you actually get to take vacations and have life? Assume NYC/DC. Again, work/life balance was what they were selling but it was hard to believe.

I ask because if I accept either of the offers, I won't be able to participate in TIP. Big dilemma, but it feels nice to have a job right now and not worry about this semester's grades.

Talked to A LOT OF big4 attorneys but I don't think I got an honest answer. All biglaw tax folks told me to turn them down but they all went to T6 and don't understand the struggles of a T40. Career Office is telling me to take it but I don't know what their incentives are. Thus the anonymous posting & asking for some TLS wisdom.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:48 pm

I hope you don't mind this limited info, but I know a grad of a state law school (lower ranked than yours) who got a big4 job. After I think about three years, they lateraled into the market's most prestigious "home" firm. Market size think Cleveland/KC/Detroit etc... From my understanding, he's in a small practice area in demand and has the ability to make partner.

Probably wouldn't have got that job directly from his their law school. I know people from T14s who don't get jobs at that firm for SAs as well.

Since I don't do tax I haven'tt asked too much what big4 was like directly from them. I've also heard of Big4 paying for LLMs (which could get you into biglaw). I think unilaterally the answer will Big4 pays less than Biglaw. Hours I think are going to depend heavily on office. I have a hunch that NYC hours will suck, but absolutely no data to prove that.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:06 pm

What was your offer if I don't mind me asking? Mine was 115 base, 10 signing bonus and 5 bar passage bonus in the NYC office.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I hope you don't mind this limited info, but I know a grad of a state law school (lower ranked than yours) who got a big4 job. After I think about three years, they lateraled into the market's most prestigious "home" firm. Market size think Cleveland/KC/Detroit etc... From my understanding, he's in a small practice area in demand and has the ability to make partner.

Probably wouldn't have got that job directly from his their law school. I know people from T14s who don't get jobs at that firm for SAs as well.

Since I don't do tax I haven'tt asked too much what big4 was like directly from them. I've also heard of Big4 paying for LLMs (which could get you into biglaw). I think unilaterally the answer will Big4 pays less than Biglaw. Hours I think are going to depend heavily on office. I have a hunch that NYC hours will suck, but absolutely no data to prove that.


OP here. Thanks for the reply. Good to hear about your friend lateraling after 3 years. I've heard Big 4 paying for LLMs as well, except I'm already debt-financing myself...

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What was your offer if I don't mind me asking? Mine was 115 base, 10 signing bonus and 5 bar passage bonus in the NYC office.


OP here. Right around your range.

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Johann
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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Johann » Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:46 pm

accept the job and reneg if you get something better in TIP. its common for big 4 to go law firms and vice versa. international tax is the place to be in big 4, and big 4 does a lot of work that biglaw does not do on structuring etc.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby dabigchina » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:04 pm

115 is solid for international. I would take it.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:06 pm

JohannDeMann wrote:accept the job and reneg if you get something better in TIP. its common for big 4 to go law firms and vice versa. international tax is the place to be in big 4, and big 4 does a lot of work that biglaw does not do on structuring etc.


OP here. Thanks for the insight.
Is reneging common? I do not want to burn bridges...

Also, PwC vs KPMG vs EY - any thoughts?

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:09 pm

dabigchina wrote:115 is solid for international. I would take it.


OP here. I'm not dissatisfied at all. I'll be seating on 120k debt by the end of the LLM, so the fact that biglaw might be in play is really enticing. But then again, I know how fortunate I am to have an offer without first semester grades. What's the market salary for international usually like?

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Johann » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:accept the job and reneg if you get something better in TIP. its common for big 4 to go law firms and vice versa. international tax is the place to be in big 4, and big 4 does a lot of work that biglaw does not do on structuring etc.


OP here. Thanks for the insight.
Is reneging common? I do not want to burn bridges...

Also, PwC vs KPMG vs EY - any thoughts?


EY& PwC have the better work and better pay. Reneging is not common, but you have to do whats best for you and your career development. I think Big4 intl tax is a great start to a career, but if you are seriously bummed about the money difference then just make the switch then. rejecting the offer is the dumbest thing you can do.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:13 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:accept the job and reneg if you get something better in TIP. its common for big 4 to go law firms and vice versa. international tax is the place to be in big 4, and big 4 does a lot of work that biglaw does not do on structuring etc.


OP here. Thanks for the insight.
Is reneging common? I do not want to burn bridges...

Also, PwC vs KPMG vs EY - any thoughts?


Don't work at KPMG. I have friends who work there and they haven't really had many good things to say about the int'l dept.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby dabigchina » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
dabigchina wrote:115 is solid for international. I would take it.


OP here. I'm not dissatisfied at all. I'll be seating on 120k debt by the end of the LLM, so the fact that biglaw might be in play is really enticing. But then again, I know how fortunate I am to have an offer without first semester grades. What's the market salary for international usually like?

At my major market big4, JDs were getting 80-90 starting. For reference this was a non-NYC major market (think Chicago, SF, LA).

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:17 pm

JohannDeMann wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:accept the job and reneg if you get something better in TIP. its common for big 4 to go law firms and vice versa. international tax is the place to be in big 4, and big 4 does a lot of work that biglaw does not do on structuring etc.


OP here. Thanks for the insight.
Is reneging common? I do not want to burn bridges...

Also, PwC vs KPMG vs EY - any thoughts?


EY& PwC have the better work and better pay. Reneging is not common, but you have to do whats best for you and your career development. I think Big4 intl tax is a great start to a career, but if you are seriously bummed about the money difference then just make the switch then. rejecting the offer is the dumbest thing you can do.


OP here. Money matters, but the work & experience matter more. What makes you say Big 4 Intl is a great place to start? Again, thanks for your insight.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:accept the job and reneg if you get something better in TIP. its common for big 4 to go law firms and vice versa. international tax is the place to be in big 4, and big 4 does a lot of work that biglaw does not do on structuring etc.


OP here. Thanks for the insight.
Is reneging common? I do not want to burn bridges...

Also, PwC vs KPMG vs EY - any thoughts?


Don't work at KPMG. I have friends who work there and they haven't really had many good things to say about the int'l dept.


OP here. What market was this, if you don't mind me asking?

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:19 pm

dabigchina wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
dabigchina wrote:115 is solid for international. I would take it.


OP here. I'm not dissatisfied at all. I'll be seating on 120k debt by the end of the LLM, so the fact that biglaw might be in play is really enticing. But then again, I know how fortunate I am to have an offer without first semester grades. What's the market salary for international usually like?

At my major market big4, JDs were getting 80-90 starting. For reference this was a non-NYC major market (think Chicago, SF, LA).


OP here. Ok. I think LLM is also factored in as well. I have a friend who is in the 100k range in one of the markets you have mentioned with tax LLM.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:20 pm

.

sawyercb
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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby sawyercb » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:57 pm

Nothing to add re: experience at Big 4, but can say that I'm a tax associate at a Big Law firm in a non-major market and we hire laterals from Big 4 firms into Tax. Not often, but it has happened recently.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:NYU/G-Town Tax LLM student. Graduated from T40 top-third and mostly As/A-s in tax classes during JD. Some relevant tax experiences during law school (clinic, internships).

Received offers from 2 of Big 4 International in one of the major markets.

I'm curious about the following, especially international:

1) The nature of the work (structuring, compliance, controversy even with Sarbanes-Oxley)?
- Both firms seemed to sell that there won't be compliance work and mostly drafting legal memos for structuring work. I'm not buying it yet.
2) Career projections (promotions, exit ops),
- How long from associate to senior associate, then to manager? Are lawyers treated differently? Is Biglaw ever in the run?
3) Pay scale progression (Year to year raise %?, bonus %?)
- Ran excel spreadsheet based on some assumptions and it seems dismal at least until Manager, but I hope to be proven wrong.
4) Hours?? (Some say biglaw light, others say substantially better, some say as bad as biglaw w/o biglaw $)
- What time do you usually get out?? Weekends? Do you actually get to take vacations and have life? Assume NYC/DC. Again, work/life balance was what they were selling but it was hard to believe.

I ask because if I accept either of the offers, I won't be able to participate in TIP. Big dilemma, but it feels nice to have a job right now and not worry about this semester's grades.

Talked to A LOT OF big4 attorneys but I don't think I got an honest answer. All biglaw tax folks told me to turn them down but they all went to T6 and don't understand the struggles of a T40. Career Office is telling me to take it but I don't know what their incentives are. Thus the anonymous posting & asking for some TLS wisdom.


big4 tax here but not in international, in a major non nyc market.

1. Some lawyers get caught in the compliance b/c of staffing issues, usually because there arent enough cpas to do it. However it is entirely possible to do all consulting/controversy work.
2. Depends on at what level you come in as (associate or senior) but assuming the very bottom of the totem pole, 2-3 years to senior (depending on firm), then ~3 years to manager, and ~3-5 years to senior manager. Exit options from what I have seen are other accounting firms (obviously), biglaw tax (a little rare though), boutique law, inhouse tax counsel, in house tax manager/senior manager (i think this is more or less the same as in house tax counsel, but I am not sure...).
3. Raises and bonuses arent that great unless it is a promotion year and is based on a % which factors in firm and individual performance (supposedly).
4. From what I have seen, it is most definitely better than biglaw. Me and my big4 lawyer buddies do get an occasional crazy day/week but that isnt surprising. Overall from a lifestyle perspective I would say it is much better than biglaw, imo.

Your offer seems really good (much higher than most attorneys get at big4, even with LLMs), at least for the non-NYC markets. Maybe big4 is paying more these days...

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 03, 2016 1:55 pm

sawyercb wrote:Nothing to add re: experience at Big 4, but can say that I'm a tax associate at a Big Law firm in a non-major market and we hire laterals from Big 4 firms into Tax. Not often, but it has happened recently.


OP here.
Did this happen through International Tax?

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Dec 03, 2016 2:02 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:NYU/G-Town Tax LLM student. Graduated from T40 top-third and mostly As/A-s in tax classes during JD. Some relevant tax experiences during law school (clinic, internships).

Received offers from 2 of Big 4 International in one of the major markets.

I'm curious about the following, especially international:

1) The nature of the work (structuring, compliance, controversy even with Sarbanes-Oxley)?
- Both firms seemed to sell that there won't be compliance work and mostly drafting legal memos for structuring work. I'm not buying it yet.
2) Career projections (promotions, exit ops),
- How long from associate to senior associate, then to manager? Are lawyers treated differently? Is Biglaw ever in the run?
3) Pay scale progression (Year to year raise %?, bonus %?)
- Ran excel spreadsheet based on some assumptions and it seems dismal at least until Manager, but I hope to be proven wrong.
4) Hours?? (Some say biglaw light, others say substantially better, some say as bad as biglaw w/o biglaw $)
- What time do you usually get out?? Weekends? Do you actually get to take vacations and have life? Assume NYC/DC. Again, work/life balance was what they were selling but it was hard to believe.

I ask because if I accept either of the offers, I won't be able to participate in TIP. Big dilemma, but it feels nice to have a job right now and not worry about this semester's grades.

Talked to A LOT OF big4 attorneys but I don't think I got an honest answer. All biglaw tax folks told me to turn them down but they all went to T6 and don't understand the struggles of a T40. Career Office is telling me to take it but I don't know what their incentives are. Thus the anonymous posting & asking for some TLS wisdom.


big4 tax here but not in international, in a major non nyc market.

1. Some lawyers get caught in the compliance b/c of staffing issues, usually because there arent enough cpas to do it. However it is entirely possible to do all consulting/controversy work.
2. Depends on at what level you come in as (associate or senior) but assuming the very bottom of the totem pole, 2-3 years to senior (depending on firm), then ~3 years to manager, and ~3-5 years to senior manager. Exit options from what I have seen are other accounting firms (obviously), biglaw tax (a little rare though), boutique law, inhouse tax counsel, in house tax manager/senior manager (i think this is more or less the same as in house tax counsel, but I am not sure...).
3. Raises and bonuses arent that great unless it is a promotion year and is based on a % which factors in firm and individual performance (supposedly).
4. From what I have seen, it is most definitely better than biglaw. Me and my big4 lawyer buddies do get an occasional crazy day/week but that isnt surprising. Overall from a lifestyle perspective I would say it is much better than biglaw, imo.

Your offer seems really good (much higher than most attorneys get at big4, even with LLMs), at least for the non-NYC markets. Maybe big4 is paying more these days...


OP here.

Thank you for the long answer. I don't want to out myself, but this is in NYC and I think that might be why the salary is slightly higher than other markets? (I mean, a tiny studio half the size of my garage back home in the midwest is $2500/month...). I'm looking at apartments right now and think I'll just commute from somewhere far out in Queens, like Elmhurst or something, to actually pay back loans if I were to accept...

When you say "controversy" though, what's the nature of the work? I'd imagine you can't go to court representing clients through a big 4. International arbitration maybe? Negotiations?

Based on many of the answers given on TLS including you, I think I'm just going to accept. If I like the job, I'll stay; if I don't, I'll try my best to lateral somewhere else. From my perspective as a student, the work seems very substantive and I would be happy to help out structuring deals both from legal and accounting perspectives, and I would imagine having solid numbers in the end to show to the client would be strength behind Big 4.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:NYU/G-Town Tax LLM student. Graduated from T40 top-third and mostly As/A-s in tax classes during JD. Some relevant tax experiences during law school (clinic, internships).

Received offers from 2 of Big 4 International in one of the major markets.

I'm curious about the following, especially international:

1) The nature of the work (structuring, compliance, controversy even with Sarbanes-Oxley)?
- Both firms seemed to sell that there won't be compliance work and mostly drafting legal memos for structuring work. I'm not buying it yet.
2) Career projections (promotions, exit ops),
- How long from associate to senior associate, then to manager? Are lawyers treated differently? Is Biglaw ever in the run?
3) Pay scale progression (Year to year raise %?, bonus %?)
- Ran excel spreadsheet based on some assumptions and it seems dismal at least until Manager, but I hope to be proven wrong.
4) Hours?? (Some say biglaw light, others say substantially better, some say as bad as biglaw w/o biglaw $)
- What time do you usually get out?? Weekends? Do you actually get to take vacations and have life? Assume NYC/DC. Again, work/life balance was what they were selling but it was hard to believe.

I ask because if I accept either of the offers, I won't be able to participate in TIP. Big dilemma, but it feels nice to have a job right now and not worry about this semester's grades.

Talked to A LOT OF big4 attorneys but I don't think I got an honest answer. All biglaw tax folks told me to turn them down but they all went to T6 and don't understand the struggles of a T40. Career Office is telling me to take it but I don't know what their incentives are. Thus the anonymous posting & asking for some TLS wisdom.


big4 tax here but not in international, in a major non nyc market.

1. Some lawyers get caught in the compliance b/c of staffing issues, usually because there arent enough cpas to do it. However it is entirely possible to do all consulting/controversy work.
2. Depends on at what level you come in as (associate or senior) but assuming the very bottom of the totem pole, 2-3 years to senior (depending on firm), then ~3 years to manager, and ~3-5 years to senior manager. Exit options from what I have seen are other accounting firms (obviously), biglaw tax (a little rare though), boutique law, inhouse tax counsel, in house tax manager/senior manager (i think this is more or less the same as in house tax counsel, but I am not sure...).
3. Raises and bonuses arent that great unless it is a promotion year and is based on a % which factors in firm and individual performance (supposedly).
4. From what I have seen, it is most definitely better than biglaw. Me and my big4 lawyer buddies do get an occasional crazy day/week but that isnt surprising. Overall from a lifestyle perspective I would say it is much better than biglaw, imo.

Your offer seems really good (much higher than most attorneys get at big4, even with LLMs), at least for the non-NYC markets. Maybe big4 is paying more these days...


OP here.

Thank you for the long answer. I don't want to out myself, but this is in NYC and I think that might be why the salary is slightly higher than other markets? (I mean, a tiny studio half the size of my garage back home in the midwest is $2500/month...). I'm looking at apartments right now and think I'll just commute from somewhere far out in Queens, like Elmhurst or something, to actually pay back loans if I were to accept...

When you say "controversy" though, what's the nature of the work? I'd imagine you can't go to court representing clients through a big 4. International arbitration maybe? Negotiations?

Based on many of the answers given on TLS including you, I think I'm just going to accept. If I like the job, I'll stay; if I don't, I'll try my best to lateral somewhere else. From my perspective as a student, the work seems very substantive and I would be happy to help out structuring deals both from legal and accounting perspectives, and I would imagine having solid numbers in the end to show to the client would be strength behind Big 4.


Previous anon poster here.

You are right we dont go to court but i would say the vast majority of our controversy gets settled at the administrative level anyway (IRS, CA FTB, various other department of revenues...). I think its pretty rare that a client would want to actually litigate because a lot of money has to be at stake and you have to pay the liability before you can even go to court. A lot of it is audit defense that requires a lot of research and writing. My big4 hires hires ex-biglaw including at the partner level to expand this practice group.

Hope everything works out for you, goodluck!

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:accept the job and reneg if you get something better in TIP. its common for big 4 to go law firms and vice versa. international tax is the place to be in big 4, and big 4 does a lot of work that biglaw does not do on structuring etc.


OP here. Thanks for the insight.
Is reneging common? I do not want to burn bridges...

Also, PwC vs KPMG vs EY - any thoughts?


Don't work at KPMG. I have friends who work there and they haven't really had many good things to say about the int'l dept.


OP here. What market was this, if you don't mind me asking?


This was not NYC.

sawyercb
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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby sawyercb » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:
sawyercb wrote:Nothing to add re: experience at Big 4, but can say that I'm a tax associate at a Big Law firm in a non-major market and we hire laterals from Big 4 firms into Tax. Not often, but it has happened recently.


OP here.
Did this happen through International Tax?


No. I think the guy specializes in Partnership and REITs, but I'm not sure (he's in a different office than me, also non-major market).

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
JohannDeMann wrote:accept the job and reneg if you get something better in TIP. its common for big 4 to go law firms and vice versa. international tax is the place to be in big 4, and big 4 does a lot of work that biglaw does not do on structuring etc.


OP here. Thanks for the insight.
Is reneging common? I do not want to burn bridges...

Also, PwC vs KPMG vs EY - any thoughts?


Don't work at KPMG. I have friends who work there and they haven't really had many good things to say about the int'l dept.


OP here. What market was this, if you don't mind me asking?


This was not NYC.


Not original poster, but I do know of 2 people who moved to big firms.

One was in MTS and one was in International. I didnt really know either one very well so I couldnt tell you their specific circumstances.

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Re: Big 4 Career Trajectory as a tax lawyer?

Postby ManoftheHour » Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:34 am

I don't mean to hijack your thread, but OP, can you PM me? I have a few questions about your program and career path if you don't mind.

Congrats on your offers!




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