CPA to Law School?

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texasgirl_96

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CPA to Law School?

Post by texasgirl_96 » Mon Jun 07, 2021 9:10 pm

Hi all, I just started in public accounting this spring, and I'm really hating it. Currently working in a specialty tax group at a big 4 firm and would like to do something I enjoy more. I have all of my CPA exams passed, but I won't have my CPA designation until the end of the year (work experience requirement). I've got a couple of questions for people who went this route, as I'm guessing I'm not the only one:

1. I'd really prefer to NOT do tax law, but I am interested in some kind of civil/corporate/estate planning law. Is my CPA designation going to be pretty much useless in helping me get into school for this?
2. I obviously already have pretty good earning potential as a CPA, so I'd love to know if this is really worth it. Currently making $60k right out of school, which is hard giving up to go back to school.
3. I went to a pretty good school in Texas- I have a 3.8 undergrad GPA, and a 3.6 graduate GPA (master's degree in accounting with a focus on tax planning). CPA exams passed and some B4 work experience. Do I have a decent chance of getting in with a good LSAT score/maybe getting some scholarships?

Really just looking for some life advice here- I'm super appreciative of any input that anyone has here. Thanks!

CJ Cregg

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Re: CPA to Law School?

Post by CJ Cregg » Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:38 pm

I went to law school after getting my cpa license and definitely was not pushed to do tax law. That would definitely be a logical path, but a familiarity with accounting and tax concepts will help you in other transactional groups (M&a, corporate, PE and the like too).
Think about what specifically you dislike about your job before you commit to law school though, and what kind of job you want to get out of it. If it’s the hours, hierarchy, quality of life, then you may be better served trying to move toward accounting and going in-house, because that will be that much worse when you’re at a law firm, at least if you’re doing biglaw. On the other hand, it sounds like you have an interest in estate planning, which you could do in an environment other than biglaw, and a familiarity with taxation would probably be very convenient.
Completely subjective point of view, but I wouldn’t recommend going to law school because you don’t know what else to do. If you’re not certain that you want to be a lawyer, law school is too expensive and too much work. You’re so early on in your accounting career. Have you thought about going to a smaller firm and maybe being more of a generalist, it’s not too late to switch specialties.

texasgirl_96

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Re: CPA to Law School?

Post by texasgirl_96 » Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:49 pm

Sadly, I think I REALLY don't want to be an accountant...lol whoops. I did really enjoy my legal classes in school and did very well in them, which was why I started thinking about law school. I think I am really looking for something more intellectually stimulating than accounting/finance is for me. I don't mind the hours, but I feel that my current tax work is not very intellectually stimulating. A lot of accounting is too close to data entry until you're manager/partner level/etc. I also like to read and write a lot.

Thanks for your input!

CanadianWolf

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Re: CPA to Law School?

Post by CanadianWolf » Tue Jun 08, 2021 5:46 am

Since you have a strong interest in attending law school, the first step is to prepare for the LSAT. Once you have an actual LSAT score, you can assess your options regarding target law schools, likelihood of getting merit scholarship money, calculate the full cost of attending law school including lost income, and likelihood of working in biglaw.

Only your undergraduate GPA of 3.8 will be a factor for admission to law school. Graduate GPAs are not a significant factor.

Earning potential as a CPA who hates tax work & does not like accounting work may not be as good as you think.

With a high LSAT score and a 3.8 undergraduate GPA plus post undergraduate work experience, you should do well with respect to law school admissions. The most important factor for law school admissions is one's LSAT score, followed by one's undergraduate GPA.

If you work in biglaw (major law firms typically with at least 500 attorneys), first year base salary can be $190,000 plus an annual bonus of $15,000 or a bit more. For one earning $60,000 in a Big 4 accounting firm, getting to the $200,000 level could take 10 years.

If not practicing in the area of tax law, your CPA designation has diminished value in the practice of law beyond helping to establish credibility. As noted above by another poster, CPA knowledge is useful in certain areas of law outside of tax law, but not necessary.

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nealric

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Re: CPA to Law School?

Post by nealric » Tue Jun 08, 2021 10:00 am

texasgirl_96 wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 9:10 pm
Hi all, I just started in public accounting this spring, and I'm really hating it. Currently working in a specialty tax group at a big 4 firm and would like to do something I enjoy more. I have all of my CPA exams passed, but I won't have my CPA designation until the end of the year (work experience requirement). I've got a couple of questions for people who went this route, as I'm guessing I'm not the only one:

1. I'd really prefer to NOT do tax law, but I am interested in some kind of civil/corporate/estate planning law. Is my CPA designation going to be pretty much useless in helping me get into school for this?
2. I obviously already have pretty good earning potential as a CPA, so I'd love to know if this is really worth it. Currently making $60k right out of school, which is hard giving up to go back to school.
3. I went to a pretty good school in Texas- I have a 3.8 undergrad GPA, and a 3.6 graduate GPA (master's degree in accounting with a focus on tax planning). CPA exams passed and some B4 work experience. Do I have a decent chance of getting in with a good LSAT score/maybe getting some scholarships?

Really just looking for some life advice here- I'm super appreciative of any input that anyone has here. Thanks!
I'm a tax attorney (non-CPA).

1) You might give tax law a chance. The day-to-day is completely different from being a brand new Big4 grunt. It's a lot more research/writing focused, very little time crunching numbers. However, if you really don't want to do tax, nobody is going to force you in that direction. Note that entry level corporate or lit has a lot of gruntwork too (or really any entry level law job). You do have to appreciate that to some extent, entry level is entry level.

2) You can make 190k to start + bonus in biglaw, so you could get a decently big jump out of the career switch. The delta would be quite a bit less (to non-existent) if you want to work in government or a smaller firm.

3) Your GPA is fine for just about anywhere. It's all about the LSAT for you. Take it until you get a 170+ or until you've spent 1,000 hours studying and taken it 3 times (whichever comes first). Your career options are quite a bit broader coming from a top school.

CPA-->JD

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Re: CPA to Law School?

Post by CPA-->JD » Tue Jun 08, 2021 11:50 am

texasgirl_96 wrote:
Mon Jun 07, 2021 10:49 pm
Sadly, I think I REALLY don't want to be an accountant...lol whoops. I did really enjoy my legal classes in school and did very well in them, which was why I started thinking about law school. I think I am really looking for something more intellectually stimulating than accounting/finance is for me. I don't mind the hours, but I feel that my current tax work is not very intellectually stimulating. A lot of accounting is too close to data entry until you're manager/partner level/etc. I also like to read and write a lot.

Thanks for your input!
This is exactly how I felt during my year at a Big4 tax. I felt like I was doing data entry 14-15 hours a day for $60K. Was brutal. So I took the LSAT, went to a top school on a large scholarship, and haven't looked back.

As mentioned, your ROI will depend on the school you get into and the cost of attendance. So the first step is to take the LSAT and assess your options.

Very happy to chat more if you want to send a pm.

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