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618194

Have an accounting degree, want to pursue law, but can't bring myself to give up the CPA

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54 minutes ago, Aschenbach said:

I don't understand what the issue here is. Do you want to go to law school because you want to gain deeper understanding within the corporate/securities/tax world or because you think a law degree would give you an economic advantage over a CPA alone?

First, you don't necessarily need a law degree to be involved in advisory, M&A and tax. As a CPA candidate, you already know that. I also think most of the education would be from experience and on-the-ground training as opposed to something you learn from obtaining a degree. The job you get out of business school would be crucial as your entry point. If you're currently at one of the Big 4, it's probably a good place to be. 

Second, CPAs and lawyers make similar money, potentially more for CPAs who make it to C-level positions. I'm not certain a CPA combined with a JD would equal higher earning capacity than just a CPA or JD on its own. Economically, obtaining a law degree would not make sense given the large opportunity cost that comes with it. 

As a CPA drop-out, I hated accounting and went into it due to family pressure and a fear of being unemployed. So my reasons for going into law are different. I would think carefully about why you want to do this. I agree with the other posters that you would be better off completing your CPA and then deciding whether you want to go to law school. It would give you a better sense about what you can (and can't) do with your CPA and work experience. From there, you would be in a better position to assess the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing a JD.

 

Yeah I think this was always going to be the natural conclusion. Still, pretty shitty I have to eat such a high opportunity cost if i were to do a JD, better to know than not know I guess.

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16 minutes ago, conge said:

My advice is, if you decide that you do want to go to law school, then finish the CPA first.

CPA + bar call + corporate/commercial law experience is a very good combination, if you want to be a corporate lawyer, that is.

 

 

see here is the crux of the issue, you and others are saying its an advantageous combo, still others are saying it's irrelevant. no one seems to have a straight answer😅

so why do you think it is a "good combination"

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14 minutes ago, 618194 said:

see here is the crux of the issue, you and others are saying its an advantageous combo, still others are saying it's irrelevant. no one seems to have a straight answer😅

so why do you think it is a "good combination"

The problem is you're looking for a definitive answer, but there are far too many variables to provide you with one. 

Edited by PlayALawyerOnTV
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15 minutes ago, 618194 said:

see here is the crux of the issue, you and others are saying its an advantageous combo, still others are saying it's irrelevant. no one seems to have a straight answer😅

so why do you think it is a "good combination"

If you're dependent upon straight answers, a JD might not be the right choice.

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23 minutes ago, 618194 said:

see here is the crux of the issue, you and others are saying its an advantageous combo, still others are saying it's irrelevant. no one seems to have a straight answer😅

so why do you think it is a "good combination"

I don't think that anyone has said that it's irrelevant. What it is, though, is not a guaranteed advantage, which is what seems to be what you are expecting. One thing to consider is that if you do well enough in law school to be successful at recruitment at a large law firm, you are going to be equal, in both pay and responsibility, with everyone else hired in your cohort. Your CPA is going to be of zero advantage in those factors. Is that essentially what you are looking for, in a definitive answer? The CPA designation will not result in you earning any more than any of the other 20+ 2Ls. articling students or associates that are in your year. 

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So these are just my thoughts on this but here it is.

if you only consider this from a financial perspective when you are already put time and money towards being a CPA, law school is never going to be the best option. It's more money and time for a profession that doesn't necessarily pay that much more

The the topic of whether being a CPA first will be an advantage, I would say yes, but I consider any experience someone has an advantage. I painted houses for 9 years. I found the skills i picked up on the job site an advantage in law school, and those skills are still relevant in my articles.

I think you should also consider the option that you go through law school and don't go into tax law. I went into law school with experience in real estate, was dead set  on being a real estate solicitor, and now I work at a litigation firm doing PI and estate lit. Things change, will you still be ok with your decision if you don't end up in tax law. 

Final thought, you can only be a competent professional in one profession at a time. I think you should really think about which profession you want that to be and work towards it in a way that make sense to you.

So yea, not a lot of concrete advice, just another perspective to consider.

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37 minutes ago, FortifiedEight said:

If you're dependent upon straight answers, a JD might not be the right choice.

a "consensus" answer might have been a better term. there is risk in any investment, and the point of the initial post was for people to share their experience, not make a decision for me. 

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1 hour ago, 618194 said:

I hate this idea that we need to know what we want to be so early, I just started my CPA career, and am unfamiliar with law school--I can't be clear about want I want to be w/o experience--as is the case with most people. I am just looking for perspective.

look at these guys in the states, they are claiming the opposite of you:https://www.attorney-cpa.com/articles/cpas-consider-law-degree/

That link is for an advocacy group for american attorney-CPAs. Of course that group would promote dual designation. Do you let the Dairy Farmers of Ontario tell you what to drink?

I don't think you need to know anything right now but I think it's sound advice that you should just be an accountant for a few years. Once you know what that gig is like and you have a decent perspective of that profession, if you still want to jump to law you can at that point. If your accountant work involves coordination with lawyers maybe you can get some insight through work into both realities. 

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26 minutes ago, erinl2 said:

I don't think that anyone has said that it's irrelevant. What it is, though, is not a guaranteed advantage, which is what seems to be what you are expecting. One thing to consider is that if you do well enough in law school to be successful at recruitment at a large law firm, you are going to be equal, in both pay and responsibility, with everyone else hired in your cohort. Your CPA is going to be of zero advantage in those factors. Is that essentially what you are looking for, in a definitive answer? The CPA designation will not result in you earning any more than any of the other 20+ 2Ls. articling students or associates that are in your year. 

so by this logic ( again I am an outsider to the profession/ field) the JD/MBA programs offered by every law school are a total waste then.  there is no point to these programs (at least from an employment perspective).

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2 minutes ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

That link is for an advocacy group for american attorney-CPAs. Of course that group would promote dual designation. Do you let the Dairy Farmers of Ontario tell you what to drink?

I don't think you need to know anything right now but I think it's sound advice that you should just be an accountant for a few years. Once you know what that gig is like and you have a decent perspective of that profession, if you still want to jump to law you can at that point. If your accountant work involves coordination with lawyers maybe you can get some insight through work into both realities. 

yeah this seems to be the "straight answer" I am looking for--just took a little back and forth. Thanks!

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6 minutes ago, 618194 said:

so by this logic ( again I am an outsider to the profession/ field) the JD/MBA programs offered by every law school are a total waste then.  there is no point to these programs (at least from an employment perspective).

Frankly for many students they are. But you aren't even comparing apples to apples:

A JD/MBA is one extra year of school, I believe. Even if the JD/MBA 90% of the time makes as much as a JD throughout their career, the exploration of all that MBA stuff might be worth the added time and cost to them. The JD/MBA students also get to explore both things concurrently, sort of, which can help for people who very much might like either direction. 

Adding a JD to your CV would be three extra years of school and getting licensed is more time on top of that. If you don't end up leveraging it it's a "total waste" of a very different magnitude. 

Edited by BringBackCrunchBerries
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I feel that you may already have your perspectives or tendency, and you are asking for some assuring thoughts. Yes, a business degree + CPA + law degree can be an advantageous combination in some cases and areas, but there is no 100% guarantee. There is also no straight or consensus answer to your educational choice or career path.

I agree with some perspectives in this thread that you can allow more time to accumulate experience and understanding in accounting and its interplay with law and determine whether you will have a strong interest and commitment to pursue a law degree. As for the time issue you mentioned (it will take a long time to get CPA and then a law degree), I don’t think it is a big issue since you will have a much longer career and education is an integral part of promoting your career.

Edited by mumumu

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4 hours ago, 618194 said:

 

See I disagree with this, but understand your reasoning. Transactions/ taxation/ corp. gov are both the work of CPAs and lawyers--there has to be some synergy or economies there, the combo is relatively rare in Canada so you wont really see it in the market. Fields like Transfer Pricing require both sets of knowledge, but rarely do you see a person w/ both--for the exact reasons of my first post.

While this may be true, the role you play as a CPA in terms of transactions and corporate governance is vastly different from that of a lawyer (I left out taxation because CPAs have a pesky habit of playing lawyer for smaller transactions like reorgs). I've yet to be involved on a file where we turn to a CPA and ask for their thoughts on a transaction or corporate governance beyond their input on the underlying accounting. I don't really envision us turning to one of our lawyers who has a CPA and asking what their thoughts are - we would just contact the client's accountant. 

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1 minute ago, setto said:

While this may be true, the role you play as a CPA in terms of transactions and corporate governance is vastly different from that of a lawyer (I left out taxation because CPAs have a pesky habit of playing lawyer for smaller transactions like reorgs). I've yet to be involved on a file where we turn to a CPA and ask for their thoughts on a transaction or corporate governance beyond their input on the underlying accounting. I don't really envision us turning to one of our lawyers who has a CPA and asking what their thoughts are - we would just contact the client's accountant. 

this is the perspective I was looking for. Thank you!

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1 hour ago, 618194 said:

so by this logic ( again I am an outsider to the profession/ field) the JD/MBA programs offered by every law school are a total waste then.  there is no point to these programs (at least from an employment perspective).

If you are solely looking at those programs to provide a financial/responsibility advantage, then yes, my answer is the same. When 2Ls are hired at a large firm, they all earn the same amount. Same with articling students and first year associates. Associate compensation is, at many if not most firms, going to be lockstep for several years. So, I ask again, are you looking at this solely, or even primarily, from a financial perspective?

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5 minutes ago, 618194 said:

this is the perspective I was looking for. Thank you!

Keep in mind that your mileage may vary and I'm not exactly a seasoned pro. I'm sure plenty of tax boutiques would love a CPA/JD combo. But I'm not sure how useful it is beyond that. Plenty (most?) of tax lawyers get by without a CPA and it seems like a very difficult path to get to the same place as a tax lawyer. Add on top of that that CPA are very well compensated. Kinda just seems like a doctor picking two specialties that can sorta/sometimes overlap and having to stay up to date on both of them while getting paid the same. 

Edited by setto

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1 hour ago, setto said:

Keep in mind that your mileage may vary and I'm not exactly a seasoned pro. I'm sure plenty of tax boutiques would love a CPA/JD combo. But I'm not sure how useful it is beyond that. Plenty (most?) of tax lawyers get by without a CPA and it seems like a very difficult path to get to the same place as a tax lawyer. Add on top of that that CPA are very well compensated. Kinda just seems like a doctor picking two specialties that can sorta/sometimes overlap and having to stay up to date on both of them while getting paid the same. 

I mean regardless, I have a pretty solid good career path in front of me, and if anything it'll give me some work experience I might miss out on had I gone to law school right away and help pay for the degree anyway

 

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1 hour ago, erinl2 said:

If you are solely looking at those programs to provide a financial/responsibility advantage, then yes, my answer is the same. When 2Ls are hired at a large firm, they all earn the same amount. Same with articling students and first year associates. Associate compensation is, at many if not most firms, going to be lockstep for several years. So, I ask again, are you looking at this solely, or even primarily, from a financial perspective?

I mean the CPA is a pretty good career path in itself, so me going to law school and incurs quite a bit of opportunity cost. So it's a very fair point to consider. I do have a bird in hand so to speak.

 

I was never looking at it purely from a financial perspective, but if you're going to lose money on education isn't that a deterrent?  isn't that a fair concern to have?  

 

I mean why would anyone with the most lucrative undergraduate degrees go to law school then? There'd be no real point from a financial perspective and the profession would miss out on talented individuals from the student population.

Edited by 618194

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23 minutes ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

Are lucrative undergrads even a thing anymore?

Yes. Nursing, engineering, finance (if you land an analyst position), etc. are lucrative when you compare them to the average undergrad salary. 

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