CPA with work experience

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moutain.rain

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CPA with work experience

Post by moutain.rain » Fri May 08, 2020 9:59 am

Hi all,

I currently have over two years of accounting experience and I’ll be wrapping up the CPA shortly. I planned on taking the January LSAT and see where I can get into for next fall. But that’s probably cutting it close.

I’ve known I wanted to go into law since undergrad, when my class was visited by a panel of business lawyers (some with accounting backgrounds). I decided to get some work experience first, and now I feel ready to move forward with law school. I don’t plan on attending full time, so I’ll be getting even more work experience.

But how valuable is my business experience? Will it help me versus the average student? My work experience is in public accounting, does that matter? If I’m only interested in transactional work, will that improve my chances? Some have said it’s amazing for job prospects (especially if you want tax), while others brush it off as some irrelevant soft point.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: CPA with work experience

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri May 08, 2020 11:56 am

It's a nice thing for interviewing, but remember that you're up against a lot of people who have been working at investment banks or in law firms, doing master's degrees, etc. Don't expect to drastically outperform your law-school rank/grades. You're well ahead of K-JD students, of course, and I think "above average" is fair. But accounting and law are different professions.

For the transactional roles you seem interested in, it's important to go to a full-time T13 program. The recruiting process is heavily slanted towards those schools.

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Re: CPA with work experience

Post by Anonymous User » Fri May 08, 2020 12:44 pm

I agree with the above poster but with a caveat.

I'm a tax associate at a Big4 in a major market and I can tell you that depending on what group you work with and in what capacity, your experience might give you a substantial benefit. Big4 tax associates lateral to law firms fairly often because law firms, to some extent, value Big4 experience (from my experience, this normally applies to v40-v100). For example, there is a CPA nonlawyer senior associate in my group who knows more about CFCs/PFICs/Treaty Analysis than all the first year NYU LLM associates. If that person went to law school and subsequently applied to BigLaw tax groups, he would without question have a substantial benefit over a K-JD.

If, however, you're an audit associate hoping to work in a BigLaw corporate group, the audit experience probably wont be much of a help other than being a talking point during interviews.

Additionally, the above poster is right--definitely do a full-time program preferably at a T14.

If it means anything, if I could do it over again, I would've done 3ish years as a tax associate at a big4 before going to law school although I always wanted to be a tax lawyer.

moutain.rain

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Re: CPA with work experience

Post by moutain.rain » Fri May 08, 2020 3:59 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:It's a nice thing for interviewing, but remember that you're up against a lot of people who have been working at investment banks or in law firms, doing master's degrees, etc.
I wouldn’t have assumped I’d be up against a lot of people. How common are non-traditionals?

Both of you say t-13/14 and full time, is that really necessary? I wasn’t planning on moving and I think I’ll definitely have to take at least a year to work on the lsat to obtain admission.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: CPA with work experience

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri May 08, 2020 6:17 pm

moutain.rain wrote:
The Lsat Airbender wrote:It's a nice thing for interviewing, but remember that you're up against a lot of people who have been working at investment banks or in law firms, doing master's degrees, etc.
I wouldn’t have assumped I’d be up against a lot of people. How common are non-traditionals?
This is pretty easy to look up: https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/jdadmissio ... and-facts/, for example.

It varies from school to school, but a strong majority of law students took at least a gap semester/year before matriculating and a huge chunk (a majority at many schools, such as HLS above) have substantial work experience and/or a grad degree.
Both of you say t-13/14 and full time, is that really necessary? I wasn’t planning on moving and I think I’ll definitely have to take at least a year to work on the lsat to obtain admission.
If you want to do transactional/"business" law then yeah, school pedigree is essential. Even the very best non-T14 schools (Vandy, UCLA, etc.), in the best of economic times, don't place over half of their graduates into big firms, and those schools get slaughtered during economic troubles like the one we're in now. Georgetown isn't so hot nowadays either, although if you absolutely must attend LS part-time (e.g., because your employer is willing to pay) then it'd be the one to do.

Attending your local school part-time on a scholarship is a fine choice for many legal careers but it simply isn't going to set you up for transactional. You could maybe (honestly don't know) sneak back into a Big4 position as a fallback with your CPA background but then you'd have pretty much wasted the JD.

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