What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

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What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:18 pm

Read a lot of people on here state that international tax is the place to be in the big 4. However, are there areas someone who is looking to eventually lateral to a law firm/government should avoid (for fear of being seen as undesirable by employers)?

Thanks.

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:54 pm

I am probably not the best to answer this questions but since no one else has anything to say I'll take a stab at it. I just accepted a position with PwC doing M&A Tax (I am a JD, no LLM). First, I've heard that it is VERY difficult to lateral to law from Big4. I've talked with attorneys at the bigger firms where I live about what they look for in a lateral and they have all said that 1) they would be concerned that I didn't have the legal/drafting experience, but they would look highly at the M&A experience and 2) if they did decide to hire me I would not get credit for every year I was at PwC.

That being said, as for which group within Big4 to join if you decide to go that route... my vote is definitely with M&A. It is likely office/partner specific, but in my office our M&A group did NO compliance work and were typically seen as the top of the food chain. International does have quite a few attorneys as well, but they (in my office) did some compliance work. Many of the International associates wanted to make the jump to M&A but were not able to. I have heard that International does give better exit opportunities, but the work I do in M&A is much more fun to me than what they do in International (though we do often work together on deals.) Hope that helps.

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 06, 2017 4:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am probably not the best to answer this questions but since no one else has anything to say I'll take a stab at it. I just accepted a position with PwC doing M&A Tax (I am a JD, no LLM). First, I've heard that it is VERY difficult to lateral to law from Big4. I've talked with attorneys at the bigger firms where I live about what they look for in a lateral and they have all said that 1) they would be concerned that I didn't have the legal/drafting experience, but they would look highly at the M&A experience and 2) if they did decide to hire me I would not get credit for every year I was at PwC.

That being said, as for which group within Big4 to join if you decide to go that route... my vote is definitely with M&A. It is likely office/partner specific, but in my office our M&A group did NO compliance work and were typically seen as the top of the food chain. International does have quite a few attorneys as well, but they (in my office) did some compliance work. Many of the International associates wanted to make the jump to M&A but were not able to. I have heard that International does give better exit opportunities, but the work I do in M&A is much more fun to me than what they do in International (though we do often work together on deals.) Hope that helps.


I'm in M&A and sometimes envy the groups that do compliance. It seems like such a chill way to hit your utilization goals.

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 06, 2017 5:23 pm

I'm a tax associate and we regularly interact with the accounting firms. I don't know enough about the particular accounting firm groups to answer your question directly but I can give a general comment. The two negatives we think about accounting firm employees are that, as said above, they are very weak in the drafting and interpretation of agreements and additionally they're overly specialized. To the extent you can avoid these negatives, or at least explain why they don't apply to you in an interview, I think you'll have an easier time transferring to law firm/government.

Drafting/Interpreting Agreements: Accounting firms will provide comments to Purchase Agreements. They clearly know the law and have good insight into structuring and particular, specific concerns about e.g. Section 338 elections. But they aren't great at understanding how a specific provision applies or what it means, which is particularly odd when it's boilerplate or somewhat modified boilerplate. They have trouble getting to what the ultimate result of a provision is because they just don't see nearly as many agreements and don't see nearly as many turns of the same agreement (typically they probably only see the first cut). So they have little insight into "market" terms and how we will start on one end and meet somewhere in the middle in the negotiation dance. Drafting is a whole other deal too. You somewhat regularly have to draft things from scratch and it doesn't have that much to do with knowing the tax law well. I can't imagine trying to pick that up after lateraling over as a 3rd year. You just have to see it done a lot and do it a lot.

Specialization: I'll work on a very detailed and involved partnership tax question in the morning, and then I'll switch gears in the afternoon to marking up a purchase and sale agreement for C corporations and looking at procedural law for a refund case at IRS appeals. Accounting firm employees will become experts in like not just partnership tax but a specific provision in partnership tax like 751(b). That's fantastic and you're hugely valuable. But law firms have few enough employees that you can't be that specialized. The salary of a given employee is too high for them not to be able to cover more ground than that and, maybe more importantly, we don't get enough 751(b) questions to keep you busy whereas EY or whoever does. There's also little advantage to being able to get that granular because ultimately we defer on specific accounting/tax treatment to the accounting firm signing the return. It sounds goofy to say that tax law practiced at a firm is "general" or "broad" but it actually is compared to the accounting firms.

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am probably not the best to answer this questions but since no one else has anything to say I'll take a stab at it. I just accepted a position with PwC doing M&A Tax (I am a JD, no LLM). First, I've heard that it is VERY difficult to lateral to law from Big4. I've talked with attorneys at the bigger firms where I live about what they look for in a lateral and they have all said that 1) they would be concerned that I didn't have the legal/drafting experience, but they would look highly at the M&A experience and 2) if they did decide to hire me I would not get credit for every year I was at PwC.

That being said, as for which group within Big4 to join if you decide to go that route... my vote is definitely with M&A. It is likely office/partner specific, but in my office our M&A group did NO compliance work and were typically seen as the top of the food chain. International does have quite a few attorneys as well, but they (in my office) did some compliance work. Many of the International associates wanted to make the jump to M&A but were not able to. I have heard that International does give better exit opportunities, but the work I do in M&A is much more fun to me than what they do in International (though we do often work together on deals.) Hope that helps.


That's funny because I'm an associate at PwC international tax with an LLM, and I can tell you that we do absolutely zero compliance work as lawyers, though we certainly do have a lot of admin shit to do. I heard the exact opposite about M&A - that it is much less legal than international and have a hard time exiting to decent options (in the legal realm). It's cool to drink the kool-aid, just don't drink it too much bro.

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby dabigchina » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:51 am

Don't do SALT. Don't do Fed Tax. Don't do anything that is overly specialized like R&D, 199, etc.

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote: That's funny because I'm an associate at PwC international tax with an LLM, and I can tell you that we do absolutely zero compliance work as lawyers, though we certainly do have a lot of admin shit to do. I heard the exact opposite about M&A - that it is much less legal than international and have a hard time exiting to decent options (in the legal realm). It's cool to drink the kool-aid, just don't drink it too much bro.


That follows exactly what I said about groups being different in different offices. In my office, International folks typically do a bit of compliance, though there may be some that don't get staffed on it. Also, I said, "I have heard that International does give better exit opportunities..." so I'm not sure why you infer that I said otherwise.

Anyways, moral of the story is that groups within Big4 vary between offices. As dabigchina said, just don't do SALT, Fed, etc. International or M&A would both be great groups to be in--just find which one you prefer if you decide to go down that route.

Good luck.

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby hifromtheotherside » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:37 pm

dabigchina wrote:Don't do SALT. Don't do Fed Tax. Don't do anything that is overly specialized like R&D, 199, etc.


Why not SALT if you mind me asking?

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby dabigchina » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:52 pm

hifromtheotherside wrote:
dabigchina wrote:Don't do SALT. Don't do Fed Tax. Don't do anything that is overly specialized like R&D, 199, etc.


Why not SALT if you mind me asking?

They will probably force a shitload of compliance down your throat. State tax compliance is pretty much the dullest type of compliance too (although compliance is, as a rule, dull).

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:19 pm

dabigchina wrote:
hifromtheotherside wrote:
dabigchina wrote:Don't do SALT. Don't do Fed Tax. Don't do anything that is overly specialized like R&D, 199, etc.


Why not SALT if you mind me asking?

They will probably force a shitload of compliance down your throat. State tax compliance is pretty much the dullest type of compliance too (although compliance is, as a rule, dull).



+1. I was in SALT at a big4 and I did a TON of compliance and hated it. With that said...its a good way to learn state taxes I guess. Unless you are in a hyper specialized SALT group like sales&use or credits and incentives, once you are seen as a compliance guy/gal, they staff you on it every year which makes it hard to do any controversy or consulting.

BTW Though one of my friends in SALT became tax counsel for a state taxing agency, exit options are generally a lot more limited for people in the specialized groups (other than international or m&a).

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby foregetaboutdre » Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:34 pm

dabigchina wrote:Don't do SALT. Don't do Fed Tax. Don't do anything that is overly specialized like R&D, 199, etc.


SALT has to be important for regional law firm tax practices don't you think (and state government for that matter)? Maybe because I practice in a capital I see a lot of attorneys doing SALT stuff.

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby dabigchina » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:59 pm

foregetaboutdre wrote:
dabigchina wrote:Don't do SALT. Don't do Fed Tax. Don't do anything that is overly specialized like R&D, 199, etc.


SALT has to be important for regional law firm tax practices don't you think (and state government for that matter)? Maybe because I practice in a capital I see a lot of attorneys doing SALT stuff.

I can't speak to that specifically. My experience is working in Big4 tax and recruiting for biglaw. I did not see too many big SALT groups at market paying firms.

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Re: What areas of big 4 should someone looking to move to law firm/government eventually avoid?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:28 pm

Necroing this thread.

Anybody have insights on the trade and customs service line? Particularly interested in the following:

-Quality of work (how "legal" is it?)
-QoL/Hours
-Salary (do they get paid as much as international tax and M&A folks?)
-Exits

Would it be better or worse than international tax in regards to the above?



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