Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

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UnicornDemon
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Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby UnicornDemon » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:39 pm

I'm currently an accounting major at the University of Miami with a good GPA (3.98). I was hoping to land a job at a Big 4 Accounting firm and work until I'm eligible for the CPA exam. However, I feel as though I can do something more challenging than accounting. I took one Business Law class in college and enjoyed my legal research assignments. I was hoping to apply to University of Florida- an in-state school, and subsequently practice in Tax Law. If anyone has any knowledge about this matter, could you help me out:
1. Would having a CPA credential/Big 4 experience help me stand out in a bad job market?
2. Would I have better earning prospects as a tax attorney, or would I be better off staying in accounting (despite disliking it)?
Last edited by UnicornDemon on Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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twenty
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby twenty » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:52 pm

Don't do UF for tax law unless you're going on a full ride. Frankly, with that GPA, you could be a lock at Harvard with a solid LSAT score.

Tax law is boring as hell to me, but the tax attorneys I've known seem to really enjoy their work, and frankly, enjoy life a lot more than the other attorneys I've known. Small sample size, sure, but if you want to practice tax law, I say good for you.

The only thing standing in the way of you having a great career is the LSAT. Study hard for it, maybe take in October and again in December.

Good luck.

UnicornDemon
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby UnicornDemon » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:55 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:Don't do UF for tax law unless you're going on a full ride. Frankly, with that GPA, you could be a lock at Harvard with a solid LSAT score.

Tax law is boring as hell to me, but the tax attorneys I've known seem to really enjoy their work, and frankly, enjoy life a lot more than the other attorneys I've known. Small sample size, sure, but if you want to practice tax law, I say good for you.

The only thing standing in the way of you having a great career is the LSAT. Study hard for it, maybe take in October and again in December.

Good luck.


The main reason I'm looking at UF is for in-state tuition and possibility a scholarship. The idea of having to pay off $200k+ debt does not appeal to me.

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twenty
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby twenty » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:02 pm

Yeah, but with a 3.98 and a good LSAT score, you'll be getting full rides all over the place with significantly better employment prospects than UF.

From UF, only 55% of their graduates actually got legal jobs when they graduated:

http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=florida

Compared to Duke, where a 3.98 and a 170 LSAT definitely put you in the running for a ton of money:

http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=duke

In short, this would be a very different story if you had a 3.6 or something. Don't waste that GPA on UF, really, even for free.

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guano
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby guano » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:38 pm

UnicornDemon wrote:I'm currently an accounting major at the University of Miami with a good GPA (3.98). I was hoping to land a job at a Big 4 Accounting firm and work until I'm eligible for the CPA exam. However, I feel as though I can do something more challenging than accounting. I took one Business Law class in college and enjoyed my legal research assignments. I was hoping to apply to University of Florida- an in-state school, and subsequently practice in Tax Law. If anyone has any knowledge about this matter, could you help me out:
1. Would having a CPA credential/Big 4 experience help me stand out in a bad job market?
2. Would I have better earning prospects as a tax attorney, or would I be better off staying in accounting (despite disliking it)?

If you don't think accounting can be challenging, you don't know much about it.

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Ohiobumpkin
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:54 pm

guano wrote:
UnicornDemon wrote:I'm currently an accounting major at the University of Miami with a good GPA (3.98). I was hoping to land a job at a Big 4 Accounting firm and work until I'm eligible for the CPA exam. However, I feel as though I can do something more challenging than accounting. I took one Business Law class in college and enjoyed my legal research assignments. I was hoping to apply to University of Florida- an in-state school, and subsequently practice in Tax Law. If anyone has any knowledge about this matter, could you help me out:
1. Would having a CPA credential/Big 4 experience help me stand out in a bad job market?
2. Would I have better earning prospects as a tax attorney, or would I be better off staying in accounting (despite disliking it)?

If you don't think accounting can be challenging, you don't know much about it.


Your response has nothing to do with question one or two. gj at failing at being helpful.

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guano
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby guano » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:01 am

Ohiobumpkin wrote:
guano wrote:
UnicornDemon wrote:I'm currently an accounting major at the University of Miami with a good GPA (3.98). I was hoping to land a job at a Big 4 Accounting firm and work until I'm eligible for the CPA exam. However, I feel as though I can do something more challenging than accounting. I took one Business Law class in college and enjoyed my legal research assignments. I was hoping to apply to University of Florida- an in-state school, and subsequently practice in Tax Law. If anyone has any knowledge about this matter, could you help me out:
1. Would having a CPA credential/Big 4 experience help me stand out in a bad job market?
2. Would I have better earning prospects as a tax attorney, or would I be better off staying in accounting (despite disliking it)?

If you don't think accounting can be challenging, you don't know much about it.


Your response has nothing to do with question one or two. gj at failing at being helpful.

1) yes, it'll help, but only a teeny bit. Grades matter more
2) earning potential for top tax attorneys is incredibly high, but so is earnings potential for accountants. Either way, first step is to make partner or director, then to start your own specialty business or C level position in a Fortune 500 company.

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IAFG
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby IAFG » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:21 am

A couple years at big 4 would be pretty helpful on the job hunt. Go do that. Meet you back here in 2015.

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moandersen
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby moandersen » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:01 pm

IAFG wrote:A couple years at big 4 would be pretty helpful on the job hunt. Go do that. Meet you back here in 2015.


So true. A friend at my T1 had a few years of big 4 experience and firms ate it up. His grades were good (top 15%) but no LR yet he was still able to land a NY V10 and had over a dozen CBs from all the top firms that came to OCI. He definitely outperformed his grades, likely because of his WE.

$$$$$$
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby $$$$$$ » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:20 pm

You should definitely go work for a Big 4 accounting firm - or even another position in finance (3.98 is dam impressive) for a few years before going to law school. Not only will the experience look great on your resume should you decide to go to law school, but you can pocket a lot of money and make great connections in the process.

Go do something in accounting or finance for a few years and then rethink about law school. Also, a CPA looks really dam good when applying to law firms, especially if going for their tax practice.

JJ123
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby JJ123 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:06 pm

Yes, being CPA certified helps, but its actual value is overstated. The primary value of a CPA is to attest to the financial statements of corporations. Tax is a very small part of the CPA exam. One area that being a CPA, especially with Big 4 experience, will help is in tax controversy.

For your situation, though, I wonder if working public and doing a part-time JD program might be the best path. They may pay for it, and people will know that you can tell your ass from a hole in the ground when you go looking for a job as a tax attorney. Hell, lots of partners in public accounting are JD/CPAs.

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paranoia4ya
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby paranoia4ya » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:02 pm

JJ123 wrote:Yes, being CPA certified helps, but its actual value is overstated. The primary value of a CPA is to attest to the financial statements of corporations. Tax is a very small part of the CPA exam. One area that being a CPA, especially with Big 4 experience, will help is in tax controversy.

For your situation, though, I wonder if working public and doing a part-time JD program might be the best path. They may pay for it, and people will know that you can tell your ass from a hole in the ground when you go looking for a job as a tax attorney. Hell, lots of partners in public accounting are JD/CPAs.


why would a law firm care about a lawyer's ability to attest on financial stmts if an auditor for a public company is limited in the other services they can provide, like legal work? (Please answer, i am genuinely interested in your opinion on this if i am missing something)

i have heard being a cpa in general can be helpful in any legal position where you will encounter tax or financial statements, and big 4 WE is definitely a plus.

JJ123
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby JJ123 » Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:10 pm

paranoia4ya wrote:
JJ123 wrote:Yes, being CPA certified helps, but its actual value is overstated. The primary value of a CPA is to attest to the financial statements of corporations. Tax is a very small part of the CPA exam. One area that being a CPA, especially with Big 4 experience, will help is in tax controversy.

For your situation, though, I wonder if working public and doing a part-time JD program might be the best path. They may pay for it, and people will know that you can tell your ass from a hole in the ground when you go looking for a job as a tax attorney. Hell, lots of partners in public accounting are JD/CPAs.


why would a law firm care about a lawyer's ability to attest on financial stmts if an auditor for a public company is limited in the other services they can provide, like legal work? (Please answer, i am genuinely interested in your opinion on this if i am missing something)

i have heard being a cpa in general can be helpful in any legal position where you will encounter tax or financial statements, and big 4 WE is definitely a plus.


That was my point. The CPA designation is primarily concerned with auditing and attesting to financial statements. That is what a CPA can do that no one else can do. Anyone can do bookkeeping and accounting, anyone can do a tax return, an EA or an attorney can also defend tax audits, but only a CPA can attest. That's not very important for attorneys, so the CPA designation is only of limited value for most attorneys.

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nealric
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby nealric » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:57 am

As a tax attorney, I wouldn't say it's hugely important. It's a nice feather in your cap if you did it prior to law school, but it's probably not worth going out of your way to get. My practice does not involve accounting in any meaningful way.

cpajd
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby cpajd » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:29 am

I already had my CPA then decided to go to law school part-time to get the JD. I think the background has been very helpful and will continue to be so in the future. I know the designation garners great respect in the business world and is just another factor to hopefully set you apart where ever the career takes you. That said, if my situation were reversed and I already had the JD but not the CPA, I probably wouldn't go through the extra hassle of sitting for the CPA exam. Having taken both the CPA and bar exams, I think the CPA exam was every bit as difficult as the bar exam (then again I'm still waiting for the July bar results, so what do I know...).

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thesealocust
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Re: Is being CPA certified useful as an attorney?

Postby thesealocust » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:30 am

While it's probably helpful, if you can swing a biglaw gig out of law school (and are reasonably sure that's what you want) it's negative expected value to do something else first. Over the next 10 years, would you rather have 3 years of LS and 7 years of biglaw salary/biglaw exit salary, or 3 years of accounting salary + 3 years of LS + 4 years of biglaw salary/biglaw exit salary?

It's absolutely true that work experience is helpful for the job hunt and probably helpful on the job too. But it's not necessary, and if you can make the K->JD path work, well... dolla dolla bills yo?




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