Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

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Sincostan12345

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Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by Sincostan12345 » Tue Dec 24, 2019 3:04 am

hi everyone, CPA lawyer working in big 4 international tax in an asian financial centre with focus on cross-border M&A/restructurings for a mix of private equity and corporates. Interested in moving into corporate law as: tax is overly niche (i.e. only a handful of potential employers), difficult to transfer skills to another country (i.e. corporate work should be similar/same across different countries), feeling of having "wasted" study of law, both transactional tax and corporate law should be somewhat similar, and nagging feel of wanting to actually work as a lawyer rather than a quasi law tax advisor in an accounting firm.
However, I should be able to get manager promotion at firm I am with. If I were to switch to corporate law (understand might be tough in my position) I may have to take a 20-30% paycut to start at a more junior position in a less reputable firm with less high profile clients and work my way up again. I am starting to get more autonomy in my hours right now and sense that I would lose this switching to a law firm.

Question
Given my position would you advise on biting the bullet in terms of pay/firm reputation in moving to corporate law?

Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks

CanadianWolf

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by CanadianWolf » Tue Dec 24, 2019 1:04 pm

I wrote a somewhat lengthy response which has disappeared. My answer, in short, is that yes the transition is worthwhile--at least in the US--as biglaw pays about twice as much as Big 4 accounting tax. You will lose autonomy with respect to your hours.

dabigchina

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by dabigchina » Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:42 pm

I wouldn't, especially if you are taking a pay cut to do it.

Having done both, I would say that practicing at a big4 is hard, but practicing in biglaw is a whole other level of stress. Hours are similar, but the expectations and pace are much higher.

If you really want to be a lawyer, Go work as a tax lawyer at a firm. If u wind up hating it, u can go back to the big4 or go in house as a tax lawyer/accountant.

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:35 pm

I switched from finance to law.

The biggest warning I have to give is that if for some reason you don't make biglaw you're screwed.
Could be you don't get into the school you want, or you don't get the grades. Heaven forbid you get sick during the exam time. If you don't make biglaw right out of law school, you may never get in. And you'll have a hard time crawling back. A lot of doors close, because suddenly you're not an accountant with several years big 4 experience, now you're an inexperienced attorney. And the jobs you're going to want will all require several years at a large law firm

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nealric

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by nealric » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:57 am

Sincostan12345 wrote:hi everyone, CPA lawyer working in big 4 international tax in an asian financial centre with focus on cross-border M&A/restructurings for a mix of private equity and corporates. Interested in moving into corporate law as: tax is overly niche (i.e. only a handful of potential employers), difficult to transfer skills to another country (i.e. corporate work should be similar/same across different countries), feeling of having "wasted" study of law, both transactional tax and corporate law should be somewhat similar, and nagging feel of wanting to actually work as a lawyer rather than a quasi law tax advisor in an accounting firm.
However, I should be able to get manager promotion at firm I am with. If I were to switch to corporate law (understand might be tough in my position) I may have to take a 20-30% paycut to start at a more junior position in a less reputable firm with less high profile clients and work my way up again. I am starting to get more autonomy in my hours right now and sense that I would lose this switching to a law firm.

Question
Given my position would you advise on biting the bullet in terms of pay/firm reputation in moving to corporate law?

Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks
This needs a bit more info. You have a U.S. JD? Are you currently advising on U.S. or only local tax matters? Do you want to stay in the Asian financial center, or come to the U.S? Have you put feelers out for biglaw corporate positions? Seems strange to talk about a paycut, a market paying biglaw gig should pay at least as much as a Big4 manager, and it sounds like you are not even a manager yet.

If I were in your position, I'd probably at least wait for the manager promotion. Good In house options start to open up considerably once you hit the manager mark.

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Sincostan12345

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by Sincostan12345 » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:31 pm

nealric wrote:
Sincostan12345 wrote:hi everyone, CPA lawyer working in big 4 international tax in an asian financial centre with focus on cross-border M&A/restructurings for a mix of private equity and corporates. Interested in moving into corporate law as: tax is overly niche (i.e. only a handful of potential employers), difficult to transfer skills to another country (i.e. corporate work should be similar/same across different countries), feeling of having "wasted" study of law, both transactional tax and corporate law should be somewhat similar, and nagging feel of wanting to actually work as a lawyer rather than a quasi law tax advisor in an accounting firm.
However, I should be able to get manager promotion at firm I am with. If I were to switch to corporate law (understand might be tough in my position) I may have to take a 20-30% paycut to start at a more junior position in a less reputable firm with less high profile clients and work my way up again. I am starting to get more autonomy in my hours right now and sense that I would lose this switching to a law firm.

Question
Given my position would you advise on biting the bullet in terms of pay/firm reputation in moving to corporate law?

Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks
This needs a bit more info. You have a U.S. JD? Are you currently advising on U.S. or only local tax matters? Do you want to stay in the Asian financial center, or come to the U.S? Have you put feelers out for biglaw corporate positions? Seems strange to talk about a paycut, a market paying biglaw gig should pay at least as much as a Big4 manager, and it sounds like you are not even a manager yet.

If I were in your position, I'd probably at least wait for the manager promotion. Good In house options start to open up considerably once you hit the manager mark.
Yes I have a U.S JD and am advising on local tax and oversight over tax matters of other countries in the region. For clients that involve U.S tax (e.g. PE funds) we coordinate with the U.S big 4 in NY.

Yes I've put feelers for big law corporate positions and no solid offers. A couple of associates I networked with indicated I may need to work as a paralegal (hence lower pay than my current big 4 job) first before being able register as a foreign lawyer where salary matches US big law pay.

Hope that clears things up.

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nealric

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by nealric » Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:36 am

Sincostan12345 wrote:
nealric wrote:
Sincostan12345 wrote:hi everyone, CPA lawyer working in big 4 international tax in an asian financial centre with focus on cross-border M&A/restructurings for a mix of private equity and corporates. Interested in moving into corporate law as: tax is overly niche (i.e. only a handful of potential employers), difficult to transfer skills to another country (i.e. corporate work should be similar/same across different countries), feeling of having "wasted" study of law, both transactional tax and corporate law should be somewhat similar, and nagging feel of wanting to actually work as a lawyer rather than a quasi law tax advisor in an accounting firm.
However, I should be able to get manager promotion at firm I am with. If I were to switch to corporate law (understand might be tough in my position) I may have to take a 20-30% paycut to start at a more junior position in a less reputable firm with less high profile clients and work my way up again. I am starting to get more autonomy in my hours right now and sense that I would lose this switching to a law firm.

Question
Given my position would you advise on biting the bullet in terms of pay/firm reputation in moving to corporate law?

Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks
This needs a bit more info. You have a U.S. JD? Are you currently advising on U.S. or only local tax matters? Do you want to stay in the Asian financial center, or come to the U.S? Have you put feelers out for biglaw corporate positions? Seems strange to talk about a paycut, a market paying biglaw gig should pay at least as much as a Big4 manager, and it sounds like you are not even a manager yet.

If I were in your position, I'd probably at least wait for the manager promotion. Good In house options start to open up considerably once you hit the manager mark.
Yes I have a U.S JD and am advising on local tax and oversight over tax matters of other countries in the region. For clients that involve U.S tax (e.g. PE funds) we coordinate with the U.S big 4 in NY.

Yes I've put feelers for big law corporate positions and no solid offers. A couple of associates I networked with indicated I may need to work as a paralegal (hence lower pay than my current big 4 job) first before being able register as a foreign lawyer where salary matches US big law pay.

Hope that clears things up.
Perhaps this is a local requirement, but I don't see how working as a paralegal fixes things. No biglaw firms I know of would look to promote a paralegal to attorney. Have you looked into trying to rotate to a U.S. Big4 office to learn more U.S. tax?

dabigchina

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by dabigchina » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:45 pm

Sincostan12345 wrote:
nealric wrote:
Sincostan12345 wrote:hi everyone, CPA lawyer working in big 4 international tax in an asian financial centre with focus on cross-border M&A/restructurings for a mix of private equity and corporates. Interested in moving into corporate law as: tax is overly niche (i.e. only a handful of potential employers), difficult to transfer skills to another country (i.e. corporate work should be similar/same across different countries), feeling of having "wasted" study of law, both transactional tax and corporate law should be somewhat similar, and nagging feel of wanting to actually work as a lawyer rather than a quasi law tax advisor in an accounting firm.
However, I should be able to get manager promotion at firm I am with. If I were to switch to corporate law (understand might be tough in my position) I may have to take a 20-30% paycut to start at a more junior position in a less reputable firm with less high profile clients and work my way up again. I am starting to get more autonomy in my hours right now and sense that I would lose this switching to a law firm.

Question
Given my position would you advise on biting the bullet in terms of pay/firm reputation in moving to corporate law?

Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks
This needs a bit more info. You have a U.S. JD? Are you currently advising on U.S. or only local tax matters? Do you want to stay in the Asian financial center, or come to the U.S? Have you put feelers out for biglaw corporate positions? Seems strange to talk about a paycut, a market paying biglaw gig should pay at least as much as a Big4 manager, and it sounds like you are not even a manager yet.

If I were in your position, I'd probably at least wait for the manager promotion. Good In house options start to open up considerably once you hit the manager mark.
Yes I have a U.S JD and am advising on local tax and oversight over tax matters of other countries in the region. For clients that involve U.S tax (e.g. PE funds) we coordinate with the U.S big 4 in NY.

Yes I've put feelers for big law corporate positions and no solid offers. A couple of associates I networked with indicated I may need to work as a paralegal (hence lower pay than my current big 4 job) first before being able register as a foreign lawyer where salary matches US big law pay.

Hope that clears things up.
Agree with Neal. Not sure why u would work as a paralegal? Why not apply to some US firms' tax departments if you really want a taste of that biglaw preftige. Assuming m&a, your experience is probably applicable enough.

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by FND » Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:47 pm

nealric wrote:No biglaw firms I know of would look to promote a paralegal to attorney.
The only person I know who pulled this off worked as a paralegal for a biglaw firm for several years, went to a reputable law school (where the firm recruited during OCI) full time while continuing to work part-time, and had sufficient grades to make their cutoffs. I believe she was given an offer after she received her grades and before OCI bidding began.

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notinbiglaw

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by notinbiglaw » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:21 pm

FND wrote:
nealric wrote:No biglaw firms I know of would look to promote a paralegal to attorney.
The only person I know who pulled this off worked as a paralegal for a biglaw firm for several years, went to a reputable law school (where the firm recruited during OCI) full time while continuing to work part-time, and had sufficient grades to make their cutoffs. I believe she was given an offer after she received her grades and before OCI bidding began.
I actually know a couple people like this bypassing OCI altogether.

Otherwise, I don't know anyone personally that went from paralegal to associate although I know a few that went from "foreign legal consultant" or some such title to associate. Even then it's often at a different firm.

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nealric

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by nealric » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:28 am

FND wrote:
nealric wrote:No biglaw firms I know of would look to promote a paralegal to attorney.
The only person I know who pulled this off worked as a paralegal for a biglaw firm for several years, went to a reputable law school (where the firm recruited during OCI) full time while continuing to work part-time, and had sufficient grades to make their cutoffs. I believe she was given an offer after she received her grades and before OCI bidding began.
Working as a paralegal prior to law school is fine, and can help build a relationship with a firm you might want to work at after school. If you go to a school that's a target for biglaw hiring, I'm sure most firms would at least give the time of day to a former paralegal that worked at their firm. But once you have a JD, that's out the window. A lawyer who works as a paralegal is going to have a seriously tainted resume as far as biglaw is concerned.

As far as foreign legal consultant- I've never heard of a U.S. JD holder being hired on that basis in the U.S. It's always people who are lawyers in their home countries looking to work in the U.S. But if OP is talking about working as a foreign legal consultant in Asia, it's hard to say without knowing OP's location or the vagaries of local customs or regulations regarding law practice.

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by notinbiglaw » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:37 am

I was curious about the answer to this so I trolled LinkedIn and I did find a few former Big 4 M&A/Int Tax senior associates with Tax LLMs, judging by years of experience, that should be close to promotion to manager that became associates at biglaw in the last couple of years but I couldn't find any that made similar transition prior to 2015 or so.

My guess is that it's a rare transition and I couldn't find any indication of getting credit for time served at Big 4.

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:00 am

At my Big4 there are many US lawyers who bounce between US and Asian markets in M&A, ITS, Real Estate, etc. I know [of] several US lawyers who moved through the ranks in both London and Hong Kong. They were ultimately named partner in London/HK before coming back to NYC as partner.

I would suggest you stay in the Asian market until you're promoted to manager. After that, move to one of your Big4's US locations (preferably in a major market like NYC or LA) and work in the US. Apply to US law firms while working as a manager at the US Big4 location.

I work for a manager who was promoted to manager abroad and then came to US. To the extent she has a US law degree and is in good standing of a US state bar, she'd probably have just as much opportunity to lateral to a law firm as any other US Big4 manager. I would argue that you might even have more to offer a firm than other associates in your year. If you were trying to get into a firm that does a lot of Asian M&A, your experience in the Asian markets is probably invaluable and unique to you. Assuming arguendo you're looking to move to a firm as a 4th year, you have to wonder what other 4th year associate, if any, knows the Asian M&A markets as well as you do.

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Re: Big 4 international/M&A tax to law - worth it?

Post by FND » Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:15 pm

As a complete aside, if you have a rare language skill, you may end up getting very lucky.
I remember when I was doing OCI, I learned one of the firms on campus had a desperate need for a Mongolian speaker, to the point where they would hire a Mongolian speaker regardless of grades.

Of course, having the right rare language and finding a firm with a desperate need is like winning the lottery - it probably won't happen. But it's possible.

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