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Entry-Level Auditor Just Can’t Admit He Wants To Work For a Mid-Size Firm

Ed. note: Find yourself caught at a crossroads unsure which path to take? Feeling lost and hopeless? Just want to know your lucky lotto numbers for next week? Hit us up and the career advice brain trust will take your hand, restore your faith, guide you down the path of greatness and even pick out what you should wear tomorrow.

Hi,

By the end of the week, I am going to need to make a decision on which offer to accept. I am applying for entry-level auditing positions, and received my first offer last Friday. I also anticipate receiving two more by Thursday. The one I recently received is from a mid-size regional firm that specializes in an industry that I find to be very interesting. I alsoith their staff and think I would really enjoy myself there. One of the offers I anticipate receiving on Thursday is from a Big 4 firm.

The biggest issue for me it seems is which job will put me in the best position 3-5 years from now. There is a greater than 50% chance that I will need to move in the next few years, and I keep going back to the fact that working for a Big 4 will give me the most options. The mid-size firm does some work nationally, and may connect me with other public accounting firms around the country, but that is about the extent of it. Is working at a Big 4 that big of a deal to future employers? If I plan to make a career in public accounting, is it easy to switch from one mid-size firm to another – or am I more likely to get recognized by a mid-size if I’m coming from a Big 4?

I have been a regular reader of Going Concern over the past few months, and appreciate the depth of knowledge you and the readers have, so I’m hoping you can help.

#1) Thanks for the kind words but maybe you need to spend a few more months on this website if you actually do not possess the knowledge to answer your own questions for yourself, namely the ones that question just how big of a deal Big 4 is on your resume. We at least hope when you say “mid-size” you mean a truly mid-size and not a small, regional firm that just so happens to have a national client or two. At least you’ve got hope for flexibility in that case.

#2) Now that you’ve thought about it for a moment, slapped yourself upside the head and come to the realization that yes, Big 4 on your resume really is that big of a deal (how we feel about that is irrelevant for this discussion, we are not talking about the Kool-Aid itself but simply the effects of said Kool-Aid), the question is what you want to do in the next several years. You should also realize from your short time on this site that few public accounting grunts actually dedicate 3 – 5 years of their life to the firm. 2 years in Big 4 is sufficient to get your CPA, get some good connections and earn a solid item on your resume.

However, you note part of the mid-size appeal to you is the opportunity to work close to an industry that interests you. It’s awesome that you are aware enough of what you like to think in these terms but what happens if you turn down Big 4 for this mid-size option only to find out this specialization is not at all interesting to you? Are you 100% positive that the Big 4 opportunity wouldn’t allow you the same close quarters with an industry you find appealing?

When you say you hit it off with the mid-size staff, do you mean their actual staff or just the hot recruiting bubbleheads hired to lure you into their trap? If you mean actual staff, then I think your decision here is clear. You seem to have a good feeling about the mid-size opportunity and are simply confused because you have bought into the idea that there is nothing like Big 4. That isn’t a myth, but it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a career of mediocrity if you forgo the Big 4 route for something that you feel fits you better.

You probably already know all of these things and didn’t really need to email us to ask. If your heart is telling you go mid-size, do it. It isn’t going to make you a public accounting pariah, though it may limit your opportunities later on slightly. Note I said slightly. You will not be relegated to some public leper colony for being branded with the curse of anything but Big 4. On the other hand, Big 4 might steal your soul and you could find yourself suicidal before you are anywhere near to the two year mark just for the sake of a few extra opportunities and a nice resume item later on down the road.

Is that a risk you are willing to take? Only you can decide that. I’m pretty sure we have at least one or two mid-size staff lurking around here to offer you some more specialized advice based on their experiences beyond what I’ve just suggested to you (just ignore GT Partner, who is an obvious troll). Good luck.

Accounting Airman Called, You Answered

I’m not saying it never happens; the best is when one of you makes me laugh so hard I spray Racer 5 from my nose.

But better than that, when a bunch of you come together to help someone trying to break into the industry.

Some may take issue with the self-regulation of the accounting industry: its glass ceilings, elusive “work-life” balance, sexism, narcissism and general malfeasance. “Big 4 isn’t rocket science,” the comments read. Right. I don’t think anyone here would argue that it is but there is a sense of having earned one’s position in the glass ceilinged, work-life fucked, sexist, narcissistic sludge puddle.

That said, I feel like most of the regular readers of this site have of what works and what doesn’t. When I see someone get slaughtered in the comment section, first I laugh, then I think about what would prompt a majority of you to descend on this person like a pack of rabid pit bulls. This happens more often than not but I can’t help but think you all do this out of love and affection for your industry. Right.

Every now and then, you impress me. Sometimes it’s really subtle, like someone giving someone else a reality smackdown without making them cry. Other times, it’s an obvious rallying together to help a really useful individual thrive in this industry.

When DWB tried to give this 10 year military veteran some advice on breaking into public, he offered personalized assistance in pursuing this. No one called the guy old, made dick jokes, or said “I’d hit it.” Instead, he got advice like “Do a little reading on consulting careers at places like Bain, McKinsey, Boston Consulting, etc. Pay makes Big4 look like peanuts, and exit opportunities are way better (McKinsey is referred to as a CEO factory). Or, if your interest is finance, you can look at investment banking, private equity, asset management, etc. In the long run, all of those pay multiples of what public accounting does.”

Then the OP chimes in:

Hi everyone… original poster here. Thanks so much for the feedback! One thing I should note: I recently (as in 2 weeks ago) finished my BSAcc, so the 15 years out of school thing is not an issue. I have IFRS and SOX accounting training. I am fresh off of the degree and looking for more. Hope this helps with the feedback.

As far as the top 7 MBA program comments: thank you so much for the encouragement, but the primary setback to those options is the fact that I must find a job that pays similar to support my family, and I am not sure that I can make a move to one of those areas. Should I look into sacrificing some pay early on and make a stab for top 7 MBA? (I currently make about $50k per year, and dipping much below that could strain the family as my wife has not worked in years and may have trouble stepping into the door as a medical assistant). I also prefer the flexibility of online programs. I was curious: with programs like FSU doing online degrees, is this a viable option, or am I better off with brick and mortar? Also, is it even possible to get a 1 year MAcc from a big name university with my credentials? If so, where would I want to start looking? I am open to either an MBA (most like finance focused) or a MAcc, and I definitely prefer a prestigious college.

This forum has been wonderful and I appreciate everyone’s feedback and the support you show for the military. You are really a set of class act people!

Fuck. IFRS and SOX. My thought here is that you guys recognize talent when you see it, which I don’t think counts as narcissism when you recognize it in someone else. This person could be a real asset to the profession and it’s endearing to see you all try to help him make the most of that. Instead of hating on him. Or talking shit about the school he went to.

Apparently he didn’t see the “military to b4 eh? heres a tip…remove stick from ass, then insert much larger stick” comment or maybe he found that useful too. Anyway, he follows up later:

Hi everyone! Accounting Airman here again! I wanted to let you know that I am processing the wealth of information that has been provided to me. I have received several direct contacts and also the posts here. I am out of town for the next few days on military related duty, so I may be slow in responding to everyone. I will get my resume out to those who requested (assuming you have a proper e-mail account) when I return.

Thanks again for all of the support and direction. I am amazed and honored by the responses.

v/r

Accounting Airman

I don’t expect to see this often and frankly am glad I don’t but good job. It’s rare that I’m not ashamed to be associated with this website and, subsequently, a lot of you. I’m sure that’s mutual.

Well done. If the partners had any doubt about your collective abilities to pull this shit off, I hope a performance like this encourages them to show a little faith in you assholes. I have it after this.

Big 4 Careers: Can I Get into the Tax Practice?

From the mailbag, we have a young lad who is about to go through his first recruiting season looking to land a Big 4 position. He requested that he got some advice from those of you in the biz and that have been through the process.

If you have questions about your career, recruiting, choosing a firm a problem/challenge at work (wonky technical questions will be ignored) or whathaveyou, send us an email at [email protected]. In the meantime, let’s oblige this young man.

The details:

I need help (advice from professionals) deciding whether I should apply for tax jobs, or audit/assurance jobs. I want to work for one of the Big 4 firms, but I know that may be lofty since I didn’t necessaril path to a career in accounting. Below is a brief narrative so that you may better understand my experience and qualifications

I am a senior at the University of Memphis (Memphis, TN) and will be graduating with a BBA in Accountancy in December 2010. I work full-time during the day to provide for my family and I attend classes at night. I work for a small bank opening new accounts, but accounting is the field I would like to have a career in. I am 24, so not much older than many of my accounting peers, and this is my first degree. I currently have an overall GPA of 3.35 and a major GPA of 3.89. I am the VP of Development for my Beta Alpha Psi chapter, and I have attended BDO’s 2009 Pathway to Success Program. Due to a change of major from Biology to Accountancy several years ago, I will have 156 credit hours when I graduate in December. I have enrolled in a Becker course beginning later this month, and plan to complete three parts of the CPA exam in the final window of 2010 and the fourth in the first window of 2011. Firms are now posting staff positions and internships on the career and employment website at my university. The time has come for me to go through my first recruiting season, and I am experiencing some anxiety.

As I mentioned earlier I am really interested in the tax specialty, but I am most interested in working for a public accounting firm. I have been told by several people in academia that a masters is necessary for tax staff, and about 90% of the entry level tax staff positions are filled with individuals who have had at least one internship. I must delay my advanced degree for a few years since I am out of cash and do not want to incur debt via student loans. I have hopes, though, that having at least some portion of the CPA exam passed will give me a leg up in the battle for staff positions at accounting firms. Also, an internship is not really an option at the current time, unless it is absolutely necessary.

I would like to know if someone with my education and experience would even be considered for a full-time tax staff position at a Big4 firm. Should I apply and hopefully interview for tax staff positions? Should I focus my attention on landing an audit/assurance staff position? Big time public accounting is where I want to be, and I know I have what it takes to make it there.

I hope you can publish my question, and ask for feedback/comments from professionals that work at big 4, regional, and local firms.

Okay, so lots of “interests” to wade through here. Let’s break these down. You say, “I am really interested in the tax specialty, but I am most interested in working for a public accounting firm,” but then you also say that you want to work for a Big 4 firm.

Depending on how you rank the importance of these three goals, that should give you the answer to your dilemma.

Let’s say working at a Big 4 firm is the end all to be all for you. You might have an easier time getting in by taking a job in the audit practice. A market like Memphis won’t be hiring too many tax professionals and it is likely that they will have advanced degrees. If there are tax positions available, by all means apply and interview for them. To answer your question, a Big 4 firm interviewing for tax positions will probably listen to what your interests and career goals are but you might not fit their ideal candidate criteria.

To address a couple other of your issues – having portions of the CPA may help you but is by no means is it a huge advantage. Also, if putting off an internship is what works best for you, then understand that will put you at disadvantage to those that have had them, especially since the Big 4 is making full-time offers primarily to their interns.

However, your GPA, work experience and BAP involvement are all good things so chances are, a Big 4 audit practice will give you a serious look as long as you interview well.

If you land the gig, you could do some time in audit and then explore some rotational opportunities a couple of years down the road, although again, those are probably extremely limited in a small market like Memphis.

On the other hand, if you are truly interested in working in a tax practice, it might easier to go with a regional or local firm to get the work experience you want. Since it sounds like you’re a good candidate, you can be selective about who you ultimately choose and what areas of tax you want to work in. Once you have a few years of experience and you still want to work for a Big 4 firm, it might be easier to get into their tax practice.

For the rest of you out there, dispense with your experiences and advice. Does he have a chance at tax? With Big 4? Should he just give it all up and join the Peace Corps? Help him out.

More on Cost Accounting Careers with IMA Chair Sandra Richtermeyer

About two weeks ago, one of our Twitter followers was curious about how someone might land a cost accounting position. We put the question to the group and there was a little discussion but something told us that our inquisitor wa

We recently spoke with Sandra Richtemeyer, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, the Chair of the Institute of Management Accountants for 2010-2011 to discuss cost accounting careers in more detail. In addition to her role at the IMA, Dr. Richtermeyer is chair of the Department of Accountancy in the Williams College of Business at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Going Concern: We’ll just start off by getting your reaction to our reader’s question – “How would you suggest getting into a cost accounting position?” And the previous post’s comments “WHY would one get into cost accounting?”; “[N]obody likes cost accounting.” and “[I]n its true sense does not exist.”

Dr. Sandra Richtermeyer: We represent the Institute of Management Accountants so we usually place the focus on management accounting versus cost accounting. Cost accounting is one aspect of managerial accounting and when we say “management accounting,” that’s another term that many people don’t resonate with, as there aren’t a lot of positions out there called “management accountant.” You do hear job titles like “cost analyst” and “financial analyst,” so sometimes it is easier to explain these roles.

At the IMA, we like to take a look at the focus inside the organization and really try to look at the broad perspective of management accounting – which includes cost accounting – where people are really more involved with strategic decisions that influence business actions and activities and in much more significant ways than just what people would ordinarily perceive.

The last thing that you said, “does cost accounting really exist?” We certainly see positions called “cost accountant” but they are so narrow in scope and it’s not really reflective of what’s happening with the people that are charged with that important element or aspect of accounting.

GC: So it sounds like cost accounting is a red-headed step-child of sorts – why do you think there are so many misconceptions about cost accounting jobs?

SR: I think because people don’t see the big picture and how information produced in cost accounting and related activities plays a role in many business processes. They typically think of a very narrow scope that’s part of a costing decision or the actual calculation of cost of goods sold, budget variances or manufacturing costs. I don’t think that it is clear how accountants who have costing responsibilities are often working with key leaders in the organization who are determining product or service mix and making critical strategic decisions. They often need to spend a lot of one-on-one time with decision makers or teams to consider different analyses and work through various scenarios to help guide the right outcomes. All too often, cost accounting is perceived to be a stand-alone activity. Rather, it plays a really important role in an organization’s value chain.

GC: That takes me back to the financial analyst job I had and how many different people I worked with providing them with various data and analysis. Communication was a big part of that job.

SR: I think the biggest misnomer is that people don’t realize how important communication skills are for accountants in general and that they are critical for these types of roles. They picture people working independently in an office by themselves perhaps creating spreadsheets or entering information in an enterprise system but there’s so much interaction and people don’t seem to understand that. The concept of a cost or financial analyst being in an internal customer service role is often overlooked as well. It can very much be an internal customer facing role and even extend outside the organization with vendors or players in the supply chain.

GC: Is there traditional path into a “cost accounting” career?

SR: Well, I think there’s a few we can cover:

1) A typical starting point is to get an accounting or finance degree. A few years ago when the economy was stronger, a lot of cost accounting positions were filled by people with finance degrees while the accounting majors were frequently starting in public accounting. In a large company, someone might start in an entry-level position where they work in a more narrow accounting role where they do cost accounting. Alternatively, they may start at a smaller company and have a broad set of accounting responsibilities, with cost accounting being one of those. Smaller companies most likely don’t have job titles like cost accounting or financial analyst, because accountants have to do a lot more. We certainly hope that people who choose this path understand the importance of becoming a Certified Management Accountant because it’s a great credential for someone entering those types of jobs.

2) Many people might start out in public accounting as auditors and they may work with clients that have very specific product and service costing needs. After a few years of working as an external auditor, they might step out of that role and go work for a client and have responsibility that entails cost accounting. That’s not uncommon for someone with 2 to 5 years of public accounting experience. Someone with more experience than that would likely step into a broader role that is closer to a controller or CFO role, depending on the size of the company.

3) People unexpectedly find themselves providing these services. They might have started out as a business analyst and then they might find themselves providing a lot of costing information for people within the organization. The next thing they know, they are a cost accountant – either in title or in substance!

4) It’s surprising to me how many MBAs end up in controller-type positions and sometimes the path to controller, depending on the organization, is through a business or financial analyst position. I talk with a lot of MBAs that want to learn more about accounting because they find themselves essentially doing more and more cost analysis in their roles. The cost accounting piece may not be their entire set of responsibilities but it’s something they have significant responsibility for and they see it providing them with a lot more career advancement opportunities down the road.

GC: So what are some examples of some jobs for those that are interested in cost accounting? Or titles that people can look for when they’re job hunting.

SR: Well, we need to think about job titles and also the words used in a job description because in accounting, the title varies widely depending on the size of the organization. Larger companies have more specific titles and smaller companies tend to have more general titles. Some common titles are: General Accountant; Staff Accountant; Financial Analyst; Cost Analyst; Cost Accountant, to name a few.

Job descriptions likely list responsibilities such as: cost and profitability analysis, maintenance of costing systems, budgeting, interim or internal financial reporting. Often times they are a bit more specific and may include activities related to customer profitability analysis, product and service costing support, or variance analysis. Those are some key words that are going to pop out.

GC: What resources does the IMA provide that are useful?

SR: We have an amazing social network site, LinkUp IMA, for accounting professionals where our members discuss all kinds of accounting topics. This provides a great networking platform for professionals in specific roles to connect with each other and share ideas in an online forum.

We also have many chapters all over the world that allow accounting professionals to meet face-to-face and discuss trends and issues or concerns they deal with in their roles. We also have a strong certification program, the CMA. When someone makes the investment in themselves to obtain their CMA certification, they demonstrate that they are prepared not only for cost accounting, but for the many strategic roles that accountants are involved in. The CMA can provide the basis to launch them into a career path that will help them gain more experience and move into financial leadership roles. Our certification program provides a lifetime of value.

Local Man’s Brief Big 4 Experience, Stick-Shift Driving Abilities, Lead to Niche Accounting Firm

John Finn worked at KPMG in the early to mid-90s. He got into the field because he loved accounting. John discovered what many Big 4 types discover which is the job “involved more travel and schmoozing than it did accounting.” Since he wasn’t feeling it, he jumped ship in ’95, moved to New York and decided to get into showbiz. He landed his first gig doing the books for a film called Sleeping Together and since he could drive a standard transmission, he got to buzz around in the equiptment truck.

It turns out, that John’s marginal experience (three years) in Big 4 turned out to be way – WAY – more than most “accountants” in the movie business:

While he began his solo career with only three years of accounting experience under his belt — none of it in film accounting — inexperience turned out not to be an issue in the industry. “What I found out was that most of my peers were not trained as accountants,” he says. “They were failed screenwriters who really wanted to be in the business. I had a leg up on them because accounting was second nature to me. If you polled the accountants in the business, I would say that nearly half don’t have accounting degrees.”

Word must have gotten around about a real-life accountant doing the books for movie projects and in 1998, he founded JFA, Inc. to handle the expanding empire. That empire also includes IndiePay, a payroll software company that he founded to deal with the ‘archaic’ bookkeeping that was rampant in the industry.

On top of all this, John is in a band, Pispoure’, and wrote a song about how much he loves accounting. The song plays on a loop over at JFA’s website and before you assume that this another accountant failing miserably to exhibit any musical ability, it should be noted that he’s actually a decent songwriter. Anyone that comes up the lyric, “In order to get laid, you must impress our filing clerk,” is a natural talent in our book.

Leaving Big Accounting Firm for Hollywood [The Street.com]

Career Options: Masters in Taxation, MBA or CPA Exam?

We’re often asked which way to go when it comes to pursuing additional education or tackling the CPA exam before moving on to grad school (if you’re in one of those awesome 120 states or somehow loaded up on units after graduation) so let’s see if we can offer some insight on the matter.

Reader question is as follows:

Hello, I am looking at a public accounting career in tax and will graduate with a bachelors and 150 credit hours after 4 years. I am wondering if there are benefits to a Masters in Tax or MBA versus entering the workforce.


Funny you ask, have you checked with Going Concern contributor Joe Kristan? He can tell you all about taking the Masters route AND tax work so hit him up (you’re welcome, Joe) for more insight. “I think if you have good grades otherwise, a M.Acc can give you an edge in getting hired, especially with big firms. For me it gave me a huge edge – my M.Acc beats my B.A. in history with CPA firms everywhere,” he told us awhile back. Somehow we’re not surprised to hear his history degree wasn’t useful once it came time to find a sweet number-crunching gig.

Back to School
I think your payoff depends on what exactly you’re trying to get out of your career and which direction you plan to go. An MBA offers you flexibility (which comes in handy when the economy is in the can and jobs are scarce) while a Masters would keep you tethered to whatever path you take but either would make you more desirable to employers – depending on who you are applying with.

Keep in mind that for some employers, an over-qualified, well-educated candidate also means someone who will need to be paid more and could (in a normal job environment completely unlike the one we’ve got going now) easily find a better, more well-paid position with any number of employers. People may be desperate nowadays but the economy will recover eventually and employers have to consider that when deciding to offer you a position.

The Real World – CPA
The advantage to heading straight into the workforce out of school is that you can get the CPA exam out of the way and then, should you want to, choose to head back after you have been licensed and pursue a Masters. The advantage to this is that you are less of a threat to employers once you actually have your CPA since they don’t have to worry about you leaving after 2 years to the day once you have your experience requirement met so you can leverage your additional education to land a better job. Then again, the advantage to staying in school – for the moment, at least, job market being what it is – is that you can buy yourself some time, make yourself more of an asset and hope that things look better from a hiring standpoint once you have completed your Masters program. Many are taking this route simply because they’re afraid of the job market (for good reason).

Under the getting your CPA now route, you have the advantage of getting to know your profession before committing to a specialty – that means being able to change your mind before you’ve given up another year of your life and the costs associated with a Masters (or MBA) program. I don’t want to talk you out of what you’ve decided to be when you grow up but there’s something to be said for real-world experience (and I’m sure more than one old timer can tell you they wish they knew what they were getting into before they did).

Keep in mind also that if you’re looking at an MBA, work experience may be a requirement for admission so you might not have a choice in the matter. Take the CPA/work route and come back later when you have a little experience under your belt and more insight to allow you to make an informed decision on where you want to go with your life.

Question for the Group: How Does One Get Into Cost Accounting?

One of our Twitter followers Markied85 asked us the following:

How would you suggest getting into cost accounting? it seems like one of those positions you fall into with experience.


Good question! Personally speaking, your humble editor only had a brief stint as a financial analyst that involved compiling internal reporting for a COO and that was after we had done our time in public/Big 4, so your thinking is on the right track.

If you accept an entry-level position with a private company, chances are you wouldn’t be tasked with providing reports to managers. However it is possible that you would be responsible for compiling these reports and depending on how the department is set up, one of your superiors would review and present the reports.

But what do we know? Like we said, our experience is limited so we just took quick shot in the dark. What we do know is if you are an in-house cost accountant, a CMA is good credential to set you apart from the rest in your group (plus, you’ll probably get more money).

If you’ve got good experience with this transition or you’ve been in a cost/managerial accounting role your entire career, let’s hear about it.

So You’re a CPA Thinking About Law School

We try to encourage you to think about your careers here at GC every once in awhile; present you with some options or ideas that maybe you haven’t considered before. We’ve covered several credentials out there that you can obtain and we’ve also touched on the pros and cons of the PhD.

But this time we’re going to get really crazy and give you the lowdown on an idea that we know many of you have had (including your humble editor) and that is the consideration of going to – gasp – law school.

For whatever insane reason, you can’t shake the idea of committing three years of your life and borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to live on PB&J, ramen noodles and frozen pizzas. Oh and of course there’s studying, tests and everything else that comes with returning to school.

But think about the benefits; you’ve got the CPA and if you were to get the JD, maybe you’ll top it off with an LLM and it’ll be smartest thing you’ve ever done. Think about the money! The prestige! The hot lawyers that you will bed and wed! It will all be worth it, right?


Well, maybe? If you spend even a little bit of time reading our sister site Above the Law, you might get the impression that the last thing you should ever do is go to law school. There’s an ncertain job market out there. You may end up with a huge debt load that can take a lifetime to pay back. And we’ve been told by a fair amount of our lawyers simply, “It’s just not worth it.”

Considering all that, we wanted to get some first-hand perspective, so we put the feelers out to a few CPAs turned lawyers to get an idea of their experience so those of you considering law school can make a more informed decision.

We spoke to three CPAs turned attorneys, Eric Gullotta who has his own practice in Sonoma, CA, Steve Farrar of Smith Moore Leatherwood in Greenville, SC and Timothy Gagnon who has in own practice in Needham, MA.

Messrs Gullotta and Gagnon both specialize in estate planning and taxation while Mr Farrar is a litigator who defends lawyers and accountants in malpractice lawsuits.

The three men agreed that their decision to go back to law school was worth it but that the process is certainly a challenge, “It was a tough three years. Probably the hardest thing is getting re-oriented with being a student after being out for awhile,” Mr Gagnon said.

Motivation and Benefits
Gullotta and Gagnon both believe that the biggest benefit that they’ve enjoyed by obtaining the law degree is that clients recognize the value that a background of a CPA can add to providing legal services. “The amount of respect and trust that clients put in you when you are both a lawyer and a CPA is really unbelievable,” Mr Gullotta told GC. “Being able to see the tax effects of legal transactions is really amazing and you can really bring value to your clients when you are able to negotiate or structure deals with tax effects in mind.”

Steve Farrar had a very different thought process before he returned to school. He went back because he was interested in being a trial lawyer, “I went back to law school with the intent to try cases,” he told us. While he was interviewing, most firms wanted him to consider working in a more transactional capacity but he found a firm that was willing to let him work in litigation and it turned out to be a perfect fit, “I’ve been ecstatic. While you might hear stories about people being burned out, I enjoy every minute of it.” And the biggest benefit for him? “This is going to sound hokie when I say it but I enjoy the theatrical chess match of going to trial.”

Back to School
But before getting to all the benefits of CPA/lawyer superstardom, there is the little matter of going to law school. While many lawyers we’ve talked to have said that the law school you attend is everything, it really depends on what you’re looking to accomplish with the degree. As Eric Gullotta told us, “it’s important to know what you what to do. If you want to work in [a large city], you’ll have to go to a reputable law school. If you want to practice locally, hang the shingle out, then you can go to slightly less prestigious school that is more practical for your situation.”

And being a CPA could possibly put you at an advantage when applying to law schools, “The interesting thing is that because you have experience and have a CPA, it can help you get into some of the better law schools,” Tim Gagnon said. “They’re looking to diversify their class, age, experience and you could bring something that diversifies the class that they can’t get out of somebody that just got out of undergrad.”

Drawbacks
But there’s got to be drawbacks right? Besides all the lawyer jokes, Steve Farrar mentioned losing flexibility in his schedule, “The best way I can explain it is that I have multiple busy seasons but I never know when they’re coming.” For Tim Gagnon, it sheer volume of continuing to keep up-to-date on the changing rules, “It’s hard enough to keep up on one but you put the two together and you really have a lot of information to cover.”

Oh, and then there’s the practical (and possibly more important) stuff, “Higher malpractice insurance,” according to Eric Gullotta.

So, are your aspirations for law school a good idea? Hard to say. Knowing what you want to do with the degree seems to be the key to making a decision. If you are thinking that a law degree will be the solution to your self-perceived lackluster career to date, you could find yourself very disappointed.

However, if this is a career that you truly want then it sounds like there isn’t any shortage of success stories. Choose wisely.