Value of JD versus MST+CPA for tax?

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)
pyal
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:23 am

Value of JD versus MST+CPA for tax?

Postby pyal » Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:35 am

Hello all. New to this thread and looking for some advice.

Currently a 22 year old Bachelors of accounting student in a great accounting program. 1 year left of my BA. Starting a tax internship at top 5 accounting firm in a couple of months. Originally liked accounting when I took it. Now taking a tax class, and finding the laws of tax more interesting than the set rules of accounting. I am attracted to tax because I see a lot of room to be creative and actually make a difference for clients, and I love that there is so much "grey" involved, rather than the seemingly strict black and white of accounting.

After my BA, I am either going to go into the MST program; my school has a great program, and pass CPA exam in process... or go to law school to pursue tax attorney.. Taking LSAT in a couple of months after my internship. As you can tell I am deferring the decision as long as possible, which is going to hurt when I am balls-deep in advanced accounting classes next year.

Not interested in the things many people may be: Employee benefits, salary, climbing the ladder, etc. Risk taker at heart... not
looking to settle into a lifetime of 9-5. I plan on going either route to work hard for X years, with the goal of sucking up as much
knowledge as humanly possible so I can create a path of my own.

The thing that scares me about law school is that I am more business minded/practical than I am interested in "law" and theory,
and would hate to end up being a 30 year old academic without some other great benefit.

What bothers me about not going...is the idea of sitting around filling out 1040s for years as a tax accountant, while all the big stuff goes to some guy sitting next to me who is no smarter but has j.d after his name.

As far as me personally: "Somewhat type-A", comfortable with numbers, great with my finances, love to invest. Also love to read and I am a learner at heart. But, not as detail oriented as the classic "accountant" personality, more of a big picture thinker than a nuts and bolts... More reserved naturally, but I have strong opinions and don't enjoy the thought of working in the capacity where I have proven myself yet my opinions are not respected and heard out. I enjoy writing and politics, but not the idea of putting on a theater-show in a courtroom.

I feel like I fall somewhat right in the middle of the two paths I am looking at.

Am I missing something in my perspective? Totally wrong? Looking for any and all opinions and info and would love to have a discussion.

Thank you all in advance for contributing. I hope I provided enough information that someone more educated can plainly see what I am missing (and not too much)
Last edited by pyal on Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:36 pm, edited 6 times in total.

cavalier1138
Posts: 4312
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Need help picking between JD and MST

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:49 am

If you don't want to be a lawyer, then don't go to law school.

pyal
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:23 am

Re: Need help picking between JD and MST

Postby pyal » Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:28 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:If you don't want to be a lawyer, then don't go to law school.



Point taken. I guess I have a few months to figure that question out.

dabigchina
Posts: 1115
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:22 am

Re: Need help picking between JD and MST

Postby dabigchina » Sun Nov 20, 2016 1:34 pm

,,,,
Last edited by dabigchina on Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pyal
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:23 am

Re: Need help picking between JD and MST

Postby pyal » Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:30 pm

dabigchina wrote:A few points:

1. There's no such thing as a "top 5" accounting firm. You are going to a big national firm if you don't work at a big4.

2. Don't go into tax accounting. It's pretty dead end. I would know, I used to work in it. If you want to stay in accounting do audit or advisory. Audit has worse hours and is boring as shit, but it has good exit ops. Advisory makes more money and also has good exit ops. Tax has terrible exit ops.

3. If you have enough credits to sit for the CPA, don't get an MST/MACC. It's a lot of money and nobody gives a shit.



Thanks for the reply. Well its the #5 accounting firm by revenue... but is that really any different than #1/2/3/4? The only difference is less revenue. Still has firms all over the world.

Also, advisory is where id like to end up if I go that route, but I figure might as well start with tax since I enjoy the subject and need to build some kind of base. I would never get the MaCC but figured MST was worth something. I guess my intuition is saying something like "who wouldn't want to know a good tax professional"?

Also, what do you do now?

dabigchina
Posts: 1115
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:22 am

Re: Need help picking between JD and MST

Postby dabigchina » Sun Nov 20, 2016 3:55 pm

....
Last edited by dabigchina on Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pyal
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:23 am

Re: Value of JD versus MST+CPA for tax?

Postby pyal » Sun Nov 20, 2016 4:40 pm

The firm is BDO. Wasnt sure if it was appropriate to mention on here.

Gotcha, thanks for the input. Still relatively new to the understanding of both fields, so any practical information like that is a huge help

User avatar
bpolley0
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:59 pm

Re: Need help picking between JD and MST

Postby bpolley0 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 5:15 pm

dabigchina wrote:
pyal wrote:
dabigchina wrote:A few points:

1. There's no such thing as a "top 5" accounting firm. You are going to a big national firm if you don't work at a big4.

2. Don't go into tax accounting. It's pretty dead end. I would know, I used to work in it. If you want to stay in accounting do audit or advisory. Audit has worse hours and is boring as shit, but it has good exit ops. Advisory makes more money and also has good exit ops. Tax has terrible exit ops.

3. If you have enough credits to sit for the CPA, don't get an MST/MACC. It's a lot of money and nobody gives a shit.



Thanks for the reply. Well its the #5 accounting firm by revenue... but is that really any different than #1/2/3/4? The only difference is less revenue. Still has firms all over the world.

Also, advisory is where id like to end up if I go that route, but I figure might as well start with tax since I enjoy the subject and need to build some kind of base. I would never get the MaCC but figured MST was worth something. I guess my intuition is saying something like "who wouldn't want to know a good tax professional"?

Also, what do you do now?


I have no idea who the #5 firm is in the world by revenue. Intuition says Grant Thornton but i have no idea. TLDR there's a huge gap in reputation between KPMG and the rest. My point wasn't to shit talk on your firm but to tell you that "top 5" isn't a recognized heuristic for candidate quality like the big4 is.

It's pretty hard to go from Tax into advisory. Tax knowledge is relatively specialized and not that valuable for advisory services. You can transfer to M&A Transactional Advisory Services, etc. but that is fairly difficult to do.

The MST is worth about an extra 5-7k starting salary. That's about it. After you start working it's all about how you perform/how much ass you kiss.

I'm a 2L at CCN now.

ETA: I can tell you that most people liked my CPA designation/big4 experience during OCI. If you do go to law school, I would 100% recommend working at an accounting firm for a couple of years before.


Right, but don't the B4 public Accounting firms typically hire directly from MST programs? In addition, aren't tax accounting jobs more prevalent than Tax attorney positions? It was my understanding that the legal market for tax attorneys is pretty tough unless you are in top half of a t-14?

Also, the MST is 1 year, typically 30-50k and then you get hired on from anywhere from 50-70k as a Tax accountant and it was my understanding that these jobs are relatively guaranteed so long as you get your CPA as there are plenty of them. Whereas, if you go the law school route, excluding scholarships, it's 3 years opportunity cost lost, no guaranteed job prospects, and arguably 200-300k in debt.

Thoughts? That was just my understanding of all of this as I want to get into tax.

dabigchina
Posts: 1115
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:22 am

Re: Need help picking between JD and MST

Postby dabigchina » Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:10 pm

bpolley0 wrote:
dabigchina wrote:
pyal wrote:
dabigchina wrote:A few points:

1. There's no such thing as a "top 5" accounting firm. You are going to a big national firm if you don't work at a big4.

2. Don't go into tax accounting. It's pretty dead end. I would know, I used to work in it. If you want to stay in accounting do audit or advisory. Audit has worse hours and is boring as shit, but it has good exit ops. Advisory makes more money and also has good exit ops. Tax has terrible exit ops.

3. If you have enough credits to sit for the CPA, don't get an MST/MACC. It's a lot of money and nobody gives a shit.



Thanks for the reply. Well its the #5 accounting firm by revenue... but is that really any different than #1/2/3/4? The only difference is less revenue. Still has firms all over the world.

Also, advisory is where id like to end up if I go that route, but I figure might as well start with tax since I enjoy the subject and need to build some kind of base. I would never get the MaCC but figured MST was worth something. I guess my intuition is saying something like "who wouldn't want to know a good tax professional"?

Also, what do you do now?


I have no idea who the #5 firm is in the world by revenue. Intuition says Grant Thornton but i have no idea. TLDR there's a huge gap in reputation between KPMG and the rest. My point wasn't to shit talk on your firm but to tell you that "top 5" isn't a recognized heuristic for candidate quality like the big4 is.

It's pretty hard to go from Tax into advisory. Tax knowledge is relatively specialized and not that valuable for advisory services. You can transfer to M&A Transactional Advisory Services, etc. but that is fairly difficult to do.

The MST is worth about an extra 5-7k starting salary. That's about it. After you start working it's all about how you perform/how much ass you kiss.

I'm a 2L at CCN now.

ETA: I can tell you that most people liked my CPA designation/big4 experience during OCI. If you do go to law school, I would 100% recommend working at an accounting firm for a couple of years before.


Right, but don't the B4 public Accounting firms typically hire directly from MST programs? In addition, aren't tax accounting jobs more prevalent than Tax attorney positions? It was my understanding that the legal market for tax attorneys is pretty tough unless you are in top half of a t-14?

Also, the MST is 1 year, typically 30-50k and then you get hired on from anywhere from 50-70k as a Tax accountant and it was my understanding that these jobs are relatively guaranteed so long as you get your CPA as there are plenty of them. Whereas, if you go the law school route, excluding scholarships, it's 3 years opportunity cost lost, no guaranteed job prospects, and arguably 200-300k in debt.

Thoughts? That was just my understanding of all of this as I want to get into tax.


You are misunderstanding me. I'm not saying tax law is necessarily better or worse than accounting. I'm saying you don't need a MST to get into tax accounting (unless you need the credits to sit for the CPA).

Now, if you couldn't find a job out of undergrad and or you don't have 150 credit hours the equation changes. OP has a job and did not indicate that he/she lacked credits.

ETA: Tax accounting market ain't what it used to be either. Deloitte Tax just laid off 400 people in Fed Tax. You are by no means guaranteed a job out of a MST.

ETA2: I would not say tax law is particularly hard to get into, as most law students stay far far away from it. If anything, I've met more biglaw tax lawyers from regional schools than I have corporate or litigation lawyers. Granted, these guys usually had NYU LLMs and for the most part went to law school before 2008.

That being said, going to a T14 significantly increases your chances like everything else in law.

User avatar
bpolley0
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:59 pm

Re: Need help picking between JD and MST

Postby bpolley0 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:24 pm

dabigchina wrote:
bpolley0 wrote:
dabigchina wrote:
pyal wrote:
dabigchina wrote:A few points:

1. There's no such thing as a "top 5" accounting firm. You are going to a big national firm if you don't work at a big4.

2. Don't go into tax accounting. It's pretty dead end. I would know, I used to work in it. If you want to stay in accounting do audit or advisory. Audit has worse hours and is boring as shit, but it has good exit ops. Advisory makes more money and also has good exit ops. Tax has terrible exit ops.

3. If you have enough credits to sit for the CPA, don't get an MST/MACC. It's a lot of money and nobody gives a shit.



Thanks for the reply. Well its the #5 accounting firm by revenue... but is that really any different than #1/2/3/4? The only difference is less revenue. Still has firms all over the world.

Also, advisory is where id like to end up if I go that route, but I figure might as well start with tax since I enjoy the subject and need to build some kind of base. I would never get the MaCC but figured MST was worth something. I guess my intuition is saying something like "who wouldn't want to know a good tax professional"?

Also, what do you do now?


I have no idea who the #5 firm is in the world by revenue. Intuition says Grant Thornton but i have no idea. TLDR there's a huge gap in reputation between KPMG and the rest. My point wasn't to shit talk on your firm but to tell you that "top 5" isn't a recognized heuristic for candidate quality like the big4 is.

It's pretty hard to go from Tax into advisory. Tax knowledge is relatively specialized and not that valuable for advisory services. You can transfer to M&A Transactional Advisory Services, etc. but that is fairly difficult to do.

The MST is worth about an extra 5-7k starting salary. That's about it. After you start working it's all about how you perform/how much ass you kiss.

I'm a 2L at CCN now.

ETA: I can tell you that most people liked my CPA designation/big4 experience during OCI. If you do go to law school, I would 100% recommend working at an accounting firm for a couple of years before.


Right, but don't the B4 public Accounting firms typically hire directly from MST programs? In addition, aren't tax accounting jobs more prevalent than Tax attorney positions? It was my understanding that the legal market for tax attorneys is pretty tough unless you are in top half of a t-14?

Also, the MST is 1 year, typically 30-50k and then you get hired on from anywhere from 50-70k as a Tax accountant and it was my understanding that these jobs are relatively guaranteed so long as you get your CPA as there are plenty of them. Whereas, if you go the law school route, excluding scholarships, it's 3 years opportunity cost lost, no guaranteed job prospects, and arguably 200-300k in debt.

Thoughts? That was just my understanding of all of this as I want to get into tax.


You are misunderstanding me. I'm not saying tax law is necessarily better or worse than accounting. I'm saying you don't need a MST to get into tax accounting (unless you need the credits to sit for the CPA).

Now, if you couldn't find a job out of undergrad and or you don't have 150 credit hours the equation changes. OP has a job and did not indicate that he/she lacked credits.

ETA: Tax accounting market ain't what it used to be either. Deloitte Tax just laid off 400 people in Fed Tax. You are by no means guaranteed a job out of a MST.


I guess I should have chose my words more carefully. You are never guaranteed a job; however, the demand for tax accountants, I would argue, is relatively strong ... especially compared to Tax attorneys.

I guess my question for you is what made you choose to go to law school as a Tax Accountant? I am trying to make this decision right now as to which route I am going to go and given the cost, opportunity cost, time commitment, and the legal job market, I was pretty certain that going the Tax Accountant route would yield better results with less risk.

Granted, if you got a significant scholarship, the dynamic changes a bit.

Thoughts? Also, I appreciate the responses and if I am too off topic OP given your situation just let me know and I'll just send a PM.

dabigchina
Posts: 1115
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:22 am

Re: Need help picking between JD and MST

Postby dabigchina » Sun Nov 20, 2016 6:25 pm

...
Last edited by dabigchina on Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pyal
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:23 am

Re: Value of JD versus MST+CPA for tax?

Postby pyal » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:49 pm

Nah I dont mind, any and all related conversation is great info to me. Not much other discussion like this online, unless its about law school in general. I am also curious on what made you decide to go to law school after accounting? Whats your light at the end of the tunnel?




Return to “Law School FAQ”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests