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      06-02-2011, 11:31 PM   #1
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For those with CPA's who may be going to law school

Hey Guys,

I'm currently going into my Senior year at Rutgers University. Studied Accounting, have a 3.9 GPA and am super active at my school and pretty well respected.

Originally, I planned on taking the LSAT october 1st and then applying to law school this fall for fall 2012. However, being an accounting major i want to get my CPA. Originally I thought i could just slowly take the exams (over 18 months) but recently I found out that I have to work at least one year in a public accounting firm to get my CPA.

Realistically, after I graduate from law school, I would not like to get a job at an accounting firm which will be paying me 50-60k when I could possible make more at a law firm.

I also refuse to NOT get my cpa. My parents are also telling me that I shouldn't take off from school and continue to law school because they feel that I might get tempted by the money but I don't think so!

My options are:

(A) Take 2 years off and work at a public accounting firm and practice auditing and tax and slowly take the CPA exam. Then go to law school afterwards.

(B) Go to a law school that offers part time and work part time? (I Think this is a bad idea and my grades will suffer)

(C) Forget about taking the CPA exam.

(D) Other Alternative that I havent thought of

I'm leaning towards A but my parents are advising me otherwise. It's not that they're dumb people, dentist who graduated from NYU, but I don't think they understand that I need to get my public experience NOW.

Public accounting firms (The big 4) really overwork their employees and I don't think I'd want to work 80-90 hours a week while only make 50-60k after I graduate from law school.... I'd expect a little more.

Advise please
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      06-02-2011, 11:42 PM   #2
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.... With a CPA you're going to be making WAY more than 60k a year at a firm.

I don't have a CPA but my dad does. He got it when he was 45 and I remember him studying 5 hours a day 6 days a week for 6 months. He had the time because he had his own business. Are you going to have that sort of time working for a firm? no.

Following up on what I just said - That test has one of the lowest passing percentages in any field. I'd recommended studying full time and staying in school.

Also, know that CPA recertification is something like 4x more hours than an MD. Once you get it - You're pretty much studying full time.

My suggestion is to get your CPA first, get your law degree and make the big bucks somewhere. I can ask if you have any questions about the test/certifications etc. Good luck.
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      06-02-2011, 11:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twoturboz View Post
.... With a CPA you're going to be making WAY more than 60k a year at a firm.

I don't have a CPA but my dad does. He got it when he was 45 and I remember him studying 5 hours a day 6 days a week for 6 months. He had the time because he had his own business. Are you going to have that sort of time working for a firm? no.

Following up on what I just said - That test has one of the lowest passing percentages in any field. I'd recommended studying full time and staying in school.

Also, know that CPA recertification is something like 4x more hours than an MD. Once you get it - You're pretty much studying full time.

My suggestion is to get your CPA first, get your law degree and make the big bucks somewhere. I can ask if you have any questions about the test/certifications etc. Good luck.
Yes WITH a cpa. But coming out with just a bachelors in accounting i'll only make 60-75k MAX .


The problem is even if I pass all parts of the exam I will never be certified if I don't practice in public accounting for a year. State to state requirements vary.
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      06-02-2011, 11:49 PM   #4
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Yes WITH a cpa. But coming out with just a bachelors in accounting i'll only make 60-75k MAX .


The problem is even if I pass all parts of the exam I will never be certified if I don't practice in public accounting for a year. State to state requirements vary.
True; Possibly pick up a job part time while going to law school? Win win?
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      06-02-2011, 11:57 PM   #5
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True; Possibly pick up a job part time while going to law school? Win win?
That's what I was thinking. But I don't know how that'll handle with my studies... law school is a full time job itself.
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      06-03-2011, 02:03 AM   #6
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Do you want to be a lawyer or an accountant? They are both professions that require full-time and life-long dedication. And they both go far beyond having a piece of paper that says you're so-and-so qualified. It is possible that some people have done both but which one do you really want to do for the rest of your life? Don't waste time if you just want the piece of paper.
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      06-03-2011, 03:59 AM   #7
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Do you want to be a lawyer or an accountant? They are both professions that require full-time and life-long dedication. And they both go far beyond having a piece of paper that says you're so-and-so qualified. It is possible that some people have done both but which one do you really want to do for the rest of your life? Don't waste time if you just want the piece of paper.
Primarily, a lawyer. But I have a dream of opening up a consulting firm that does both legal / accounting services which leaves me thinking i may need a CPA( although i could always hire an accountant).
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      06-03-2011, 08:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twoturboz View Post
.... With a CPA you're going to be making WAY more than 60k a year at a firm.
Entry level staff acountant positions with the Big 4 and the next few largest (McGladery, Grant, etc.) pay, depending on the market, between 45-60K a year. I know friends in lower cost of living markets making $45K with the Big 4 and one in NYC who is making $60k a year with PwC.

You also get no extra salary for being a CPA, but most of the firms require it to be promoted to senior (3rd year) and will give you a 5k bonus for passing plus pay for all the study materials and exam fees.

TBH, the pay in public account sucks. You do it for the experience you are getting and the vaule it adds to you. This is why after 3-5 years public accounting has such a high turnover. You can leave and go to private industry making 50K more than what you'd make in a public firm.

OP, if you have any specific questions about the CPA exam, working as an auditor, the firms, etc, feel free to PM me.
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      06-03-2011, 10:08 AM   #9
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Most firms require CPA for a management title. Staff I, II makes $40 - $60k and Senior Staff makes $70k at the most at the big 4s. Being a staff often requires long hours and extensive traveling depending if you are internal or external audit. If you are going into accounting, it's better if you get the CPA as soon as possible. Most becomes a CPA while they are on the job as the company will usually pay for the first CPA exam fees which is about $400 a pop.

I think A is a good choice if you really want to be in this industry. After two years, I'm certain your mindset will be different. So decide on law school went the time comes.
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      06-03-2011, 11:38 AM   #10
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Your options are many as CPA and an Attorney. Wife is a CPA for a good size FL firm. But a friend of ours was a CPA & Attorney. He had a great niche going with business valuations and what not. Now he's a judge.....

My wife worked while going to school and studying for the exam. It's not easy, but doable.
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      06-03-2011, 11:48 AM   #11
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Damn. Wish I had a 3.9

Why did I have to pick the hardest major on campus?

Mo your a smart guy. But doubling up is difficult. I know it's not the same but I did a full time summer job while taking several classes last summer and it sucked. But it is doable.
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      06-03-2011, 12:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seminole View Post
Entry level staff acountant positions with the Big 4 and the next few largest (McGladery, Grant, etc.) pay, depending on the market, between 45-60K a year. I know friends in lower cost of living markets making $45K with the Big 4 and one in NYC who is making $60k a year with PwC.

You also get no extra salary for being a CPA, but most of the firms require it to be promoted to senior (3rd year) and will give you a 5k bonus for passing plus pay for all the study materials and exam fees.

TBH, the pay in public account sucks. You do it for the experience you are getting and the vaule it adds to you. This is why after 3-5 years public accounting has such a high turnover. You can leave and go to private industry making 50K more than what you'd make in a public firm.

OP, if you have any specific questions about the CPA exam, working as an auditor, the firms, etc, feel free to PM me.
This post is right on as far as starting salary information. In the New Jersey/New York area, the most you could hope for is about $58K-$60K to start, MAX. Many markets start at $45K for the Big 4. Subtract $3-$5K for a second tier firm. A 3rd year senior in the NYC market would be at about $70K. First year manager, about $90K, and so on.

I would choose option A, to answer your question. A CPA AND a law degree will make you very valuable and help you succeed all that much more if you plan to open a consulting firm in the future. And if you don't open your own company, you will still be extremely valuable in the corporate world.
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      06-03-2011, 12:31 PM   #13
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Why can't you work part time at an accounting firm while u finish up undergrad?
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      06-03-2011, 03:27 PM   #14
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If you can continue to get education for free(without school loans) then I would say, stay in school. Pick the career path you think you'll enjoy more, don't just look at the salaries, there is much more to a "job" than what you make. If possible, go work with a CPA for a summer, then do the same for a lawyer, even if its for free, you'll have a better idea of what job fits your lifestyle the best.
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      06-03-2011, 03:29 PM   #15
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45k living in NYC? I guess its possible, definately would be riding my bicycle to/from work or a train.
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      06-03-2011, 07:27 PM   #16
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I'm in the same position as the OP. I'm an Accounting major and unsure of the route I would like to go afterwards. Working for one of the Top 4 would be awesome. But I've always wanted to work in Corporate America. What are the pros and cons of the two? I honestly couldn't tell you. Nor can I tell you what the average salary is. There are so many routes to go. Would a having your CPA be beneficial in the corporate world?
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      06-03-2011, 08:00 PM   #17
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45k living in NYC? I guess its possible, definately would be riding my bicycle to/from work or a train.
You don't have a car in NYC anyway, unless you can afford to park it.

Remember you need 150 credit hours for the CPA exam. My buddy graduated and immediately started taking community college courses for credits before starting at KPMG.
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      06-03-2011, 09:40 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the insight guys. I pretty much figured out that though I'd like to have a CPA my major goal is to become an attorney. I plan to take parts of the CPA exam: Summer I graduate college, and possibly the summer after my 1L.

A friend of mine spoke to me and told me that though you have to be supervised by a CPA for a one year, some states don't require you to work in accounting. I'm sure at many law firms i'll find CPA's.

I may also decide to take the exam in Delaware (No Work Experience Required.)

I really appreciate everything has contributed to this as it has helped broaden my perspective with this.
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      06-04-2011, 09:06 PM   #19
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Don't go to law school unless you know you can get into a tier 1 law school, or you don't have to take any loans to do it. The legal economy is awful right now and has been for years. Only the top graduates from the top law schools get the big paychecks. Everyone else is fighting hard to get jobs that pay as much as you can earn with a CPA. I know quite a few Rutgers law grads, with good GPAs, who are barely getting by doing part time contract legal work, or working in other fields to pay down their student loans. Its not a pretty picture for a newly minted JD with no legal experience.

My advice to you is to graduate, work for a year or two in a public accounting firm, get your CPA, and if you are still obsessed with being a lawyer, then consider going to law school. This is assuming you would have to borrow money to pay for law school.

If you can foot the bill and not take any debt on, then consider your other options.
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      06-04-2011, 10:09 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I'm in the same position as the OP. I'm an Accounting major and unsure of the route I would like to go afterwards. Working for one of the Top 4 would be awesome. But I've always wanted to work in Corporate America. What are the pros and cons of the two? I honestly couldn't tell you. Nor can I tell you what the average salary is. There are so many routes to go. Would a having your CPA be beneficial in the corporate world?
I would highly advise against taking a corporate accounting job. You will be an entry level employee doing redundant stuff like booking entries. Also, moving up in the company will be extremely difficult. All the controllers/accounting managers/CFO's I deal with are ex public accountants. If you work as a public accountant for 3-5 years you'll be able to get a job as a controller or assistant controller at a company, which would put you way ahead of where you'd be if you were trying to rise up through the ranks of a corporation.
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      06-04-2011, 10:53 PM   #21
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I would hold off on law school. The job market is terrible right now. Three years of tuition and debt. Work as a CPA and see if you like it. You can always go back to school.
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      06-05-2011, 11:30 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Don't go to law school unless you know you can get into a tier 1 law school, or you don't have to take any loans to do it. The legal economy is awful right now and has been for years. Only the top graduates from the top law schools get the big paychecks. Everyone else is fighting hard to get jobs that pay as much as you can earn with a CPA. I know quite a few Rutgers law grads, with good GPAs, who are barely getting by doing part time contract legal work, or working in other fields to pay down their student loans. Its not a pretty picture for a newly minted JD with no legal experience.

My advice to you is to graduate, work for a year or two in a public accounting firm, get your CPA, and if you are still obsessed with being a lawyer, then consider going to law school. This is assuming you would have to borrow money to pay for law school.

If you can foot the bill and not take any debt on, then consider your other options.

I'm confident I can end up in a tier 1 school with some $ or a T14 school.
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