Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

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shao

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Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby shao » Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:35 am

Hey, guys.
I am a international student, non-native speaker, trying to adding more points to myself when looking for a job at BigLaw. Does "passing all CPA exam '(cannot get lisence though without WE) help your chance getting a biglaw job? And does it help with your job?

Appreciate any comment. Thank you for sharing.

qxfr

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby qxfr » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:22 am

I can't speak to how it would help during the recruiting process.

But once you are in, assuming you are doing transactional work, it would help you a LOT. One of the big problems that a lot of associates have is that they can't properly read financial statements, and don't understand the implications of changes to financial definitions. If you've got that covered, you'll be way stronger than your peers.

shao

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby shao » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:43 am

Thanks a LOT! Very helpful :D
qxfr wrote:I can't speak to how it would help during the recruiting process.

But once you are in, assuming you are doing transactional work, it would help you a LOT. One of the big problems that a lot of associates have is that they can't properly read financial statements, and don't understand the implications of changes to financial definitions. If you've got that covered, you'll be way stronger than your peers.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:37 pm

It's better than nothing. Having work experience that goes with the CPA would be much more useful during OCI.

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star fox

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby star fox » Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:09 pm

Yes. It's a big boost in the recruiting process when you are applying to Transacational groups. Might be the best thing you can have going for you outside of grades/school rank.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 12, 2017 3:07 pm

For biglaws, it doesn't affect your candidacy t if your law school/GPA isn't great. I know someone like yourself and she got nothing, not even interview invites.

But, if you want to do tax law (like int'l tax), CPA is definitely helpful. If your school/GPA isn't great, your job might be limited to accounting firms like PwC. I guess this isn't your dream job.

Tiny Rick!

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby Tiny Rick! » Sun Mar 12, 2017 3:26 pm

Accounting provisions in purchase agreements are heavily negotiated, e.g. indebtedness, net working capital, etc. Having an understanding of accounting principles and financial statements is tremendously helpful.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby thegrayman » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:48 pm

I'm a CPA - having your CPA license helps, but passing all the exams without ever getting the license won't in my opinion because you won't be able to call yourself a CPA or list it on your bio at the firm.

If you can actually get the license, you should.

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nealric

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby nealric » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:46 am

qxfr wrote:I can't speak to how it would help during the recruiting process.

But once you are in, assuming you are doing transactional work, it would help you a LOT. One of the big problems that a lot of associates have is that they can't properly read financial statements, and don't understand the implications of changes to financial definitions. If you've got that covered, you'll be way stronger than your peers.


Much of what you need for the CPA exam goes well beyond the skills needed to do those things. I don't see a huge benefit from taking the CPA exam solely for that knowledge.

Overall, I think being a CPA would be a nice soft factor, but it probably won't put you over the top for getting a biglaw offer if you aren't already in contention from a school/grades standpoint. Doing public accounting for a time before law school is probably a great idea, but just taking the CPA exam without actually getting the credential strikes me as a waste of time.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:01 pm

are you interested in business related law issues (corporate law, M&A, Tax, Proj. Finance, VC/PEG, etc); if so, it'll probably give you a little bit extra edge when it comes to resume review and maybe a few extra interviews/CBs. Will it guarantee you a job, not at all.

I was lower 40% at a T20 school (like a 3.2-3.3 gpa) , iBanking background (worked of 2 years after UG doing M&A and PEG) and started my own business in UG as well (was poli-sci major). Landed 5 CBs between NY/DC/Chi at V10 firms and another 10 of CBs at v50 firms in those cities; opted for a V50 firm satellite office b/c I liked the major market pay in a low cost of living city. It wasn't my grades but rather my background that helped get my foot in the door (seeing as I wanted to do M&A/VC/PEG work). You wouldn't believe how many big-law associates and even some partners don't know how to properly read a balance sheet.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:05 pm

For what it's worth, I was in the same position as you--majored in accounting for my undergrad, passed the CPA exam, but never had the work experience to get licensed.

I got hired at a BigLaw firm doing corporate practice and I think the CPA had a lot to do with it. It shows two things - financial literacy, and the work ethic to pass an exam which is routinely considered to be in the top 3 hardest certification exams (if not the hardest).

Anyway, just my two cents. People who know what the CPA designation (and exam process) means are likely to value it accordingly.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby cll321 » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:47 pm

Agree with most of what's been said. When I used to do recruiting for my old firm, the accounting background wouldn't be a trump card, but it would certainly help those on the bubble. Financial literacy is huge in transactional practice.

shao

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby shao » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:17 am

Sorry for replying late. Thanks everyone for your insight. I think I will study for a CPA, maybe even just for learning. Hope it makes a difference somewhere in my life and yours too LOL. :D

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby CPA-->JD » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:45 am

shao wrote:Sorry for replying late. Thanks everyone for your insight. I think I will study for a CPA, maybe even just for learning. Hope it makes a difference somewhere in my life and yours too LOL. :D

That's a pretty big commitment to make if you can't get licensed. Why don't you work in public while taking the exams?

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:39 am

My wife is a senior manager at a BIG4 and she said that new hires basically have no idea what's going on. So I think while having a CPA is a resume boost, without actual work experience, you will do not better or worse than someone without a CPA.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:03 pm

i'm a current 1L at T14 school with a 1L SA internship lined up at a V15 firm. I'm also a licensed CPA with a few years WE at the big 4. I can honestly say the only reason why I got my 1L SA was because of those three letters after my name. Having a CPA license means you can read a financial statement (a skill that most poli sci/ philosophy humanities majors lack), which adds a ton of value to law firms looking to strengthen their transactional practices. I highly recommend getting that license because it will make a material impact on your marketability in the legal profession. Side note: the CPA license was also what got me into every single T14 law school I applied to.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:i'm a current 1L at T14 school with a 1L SA internship lined up at a V15 firm. I'm also a licensed CPA with a few years WE at the big 4. I can honestly say the only reason why I got my 1L SA was because of those three letters after my name. Having a CPA license means you can read a financial statement (a skill that most poli sci/ philosophy humanities majors lack), which adds a ton of value to law firms looking to strengthen their transactional practices. I highly recommend getting that license because it will make a material impact on your marketability in the legal profession. Side note: the CPA license was also what got me into every single T14 law school I applied to.


While this is true and this helps, IME, beware that your situation is different. OP has 0 working experience in accounting, and also is a non-native speaker. Are you an LLM student, OP? IMO sure, doing it may help you, but it's not going to be a deal breaker if you don't have the grades/school for big law anyway.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:37 pm

As a CPA with a lot of work experience, good grades, and who had no 1L SA offer, I would say you are overselling the value of the certification a little bit. During OCI people loved my work experience. They weren't circlejerking over how the CPA is an awesome certification.

I would say the rest of the comments in this thread are more on point.

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Re: Does a CPA help working in/getting into BigLaw?

Postby haustierkatze » Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:06 pm

It's more than helpful in getting into the tax department; most law students show little interest for tax, and the interviewers are always quite pleasantly surprised when someone does.



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