I'm yet another CPA at the Big 4 who is considering law school and was wondering if I could get some advice on whether or not it'd be worth it and/or if there are certain avenues where I could leverage my financial reporting knowledge to be a successful attorney.
The long story short is I'm 32 and have spent my 20s/early 30s working for the Big 4 in various capacities. I've done everything from audit to the more consulting side (i.e. consulting on M&A or assisting controllers/CFO with financial reporting needs). While I don't hate accounting completely like most people, I am considering law for a few reasons:
- I've worked on forensic cases and restructuring/lending engagements and want to get more involved in either deal structuring on the transaction side or want to get into white collar fraud litigation. For example, I worked on a forensics case (as a CPA) where the attorneys were assisting with the legal defense of our client from revenue recognition fraud. To me, the work the attorneys were doing was higher level and more value-add while we were basically just the nerds who crunched the numbers in spreadsheets. I think I'd find the legal side more interesting, based on my conversations with the lawyers.
- The work I've enjoyed in accounting is less sitting at a desk all day crunching numbers and moreso interpreting GAAP and defending my positions (and indirectly my client) from auditors/regulators. Technical Accounting is similar to law in that we interpret arcane regulations and apply it to a transaction. Similar to point one, I think that legal work is seen as more value-add and higher-paying while accounting work is pretty commoditized because pretty much anyone can be a CPA
- This is less important than points 1 and 2, but the pay is infinitely better (assuming I get BigLaw) with similar hours. Working for the Big 4 is ass and the pay is even worse. I already understand working 60 hours a week sucks, but I'd rather be paid $190K, with a lot of upside from there, than get paid $115K to do so.
The only way I can see this career shift being worth it is if I get BigLaw, which is the most important first step. My questions are if you think it's worth it for me to make this change, based on this info, and what types of law I can pursue that can make use of my background and help me excel on the job so I can maybe make partner or get a nice in-house position down the road. Even though I haven't dealt with tax directly, I'm open to doing this, especially if I can carve out a nice niche and open my own practice down the road.
Thanks for your help!