Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students => Topic started by: delb706 on January 16, 2010, 07:36:55 AM

Title: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: delb706 on January 16, 2010, 07:36:55 AM
Hi everyone,
I went back to school when I was at 43 and received my undergraduate degree at 45. I am now a 48 years old CPA working full-time. I am also in grad school, three classes shy of the MS Tax. Would law school be a waste of time? Am I too old? What is the potential for merging my CPA credential with a JD, especially with the MS Taxation? One of the reasons I became a CPA was to start my own firm what is the potential out there for a law/tax practice? What effect would my age have on my employment prospects after graduating (Jan 2011 is my planned start date)?

I should add that I have always wanted to be a lawyer, I am single, no kids and I dont plan to retire.

Thanks guys.
 
 
 
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: Jittery on January 16, 2010, 05:40:26 PM
Hi delb706

I'm going to go ahead and respond to your message even though I know nothing about accounting or tax law. I know nothing about accounting/tax law academically, nor do I know anything about the tax law industry. I'm going to give you my 2 cents worth (it may not even be worth that much) in a pull no punches brutally honest way. Even if my post is of no value in and of itself, maybe someone who knows what he or she is talking about will be inspired to respond.

IMO, your age will hurt your employment prospects with many firms, especially considering the fact that at 52 or so (your age when finishing law school) you obviously wouldn't have accumulated the same amount of relevant professional experience that others your age in the industry have.

On the other hand, if you work during the day while you attend law school at night, you still will have had several years of professional experience in accounting by the time you get your JD, which would put you ahead of many other "entry level" candidates. Additionally, what you may lack in professional experience at the age of 52 or so, you can partially offset by the amount of life experience you have. I don't know what you did before the age of 45, but at the very least that life experience has given you some degree of maturity and wisdom. Another thought is that at 52, you will still have more than a decade of work experience left to give before you reach 65 and if you plan on continuing to work until say, age 72, you will have had 2 decades of experience in a field that you presumably love. Many pro athletes wish they could have played for 20 years before retiring and military personnel tend to end things after they put in their 20 years.

If you can financially justify getting a law degree (your projected salary will offset other costs over the course of your career) why not go for it, especially if you are passionate about becoming an attorney. As I said earlier, many firms will unofficially disqualify you from consideration based on your age, but many others will not and some may see your age as a plus.


Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: Fruit Basket on February 10, 2010, 09:03:52 PM
I am trying to make the same decision.  I got my undergraduate degree in 1998 at age 36 and my MA in geography last summer, and I will be 48 in April.  My situation is different from yours in that at the moment I am not professionally successful--I am working an interim position in social services while looking for employment in GIS, the field for which I have trained.

I have already been accepted in several programs.  If I do attend law school it will be part-time evening as I need to work.  I have a hard time justifying the expense to myself, but I have been thinking about this for a few years and I can't get it out of my head.  A man in his 70s that I was working with told me that I might as well go ahead and do it, because either way I will get older, and I can get older without a law degree or with a law degree, my choice.

I am planning on talking with a few attorneys in public interest, the area that particularly interests me, to get more perspective.  I would be interested in hearing back how things turn out for you.
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: cooleylawstudent on February 10, 2010, 10:06:59 PM
There are a lot of CPA/JD people makeing money out there. Unless you dont think that you can support your wife and kind doing it, then go for it. The older you are the less you have to loose, afterall a 22 year old has to risk living with a bad choice for up to 80years, you'd have less than half that if you mess up. We're all dirt on legs, go for it.
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: StonewallJacksonFan on February 11, 2010, 07:26:20 AM
I am a 30 year old CPA going to law school this upcoming fall. 

Back in college when I told one of my accounting professors that I was thinking about going to law school ,she said if I would combine JD and CPA I could be a consultant and make an unbelievable ton of money.  I heard the same thing from a new friend of mine, who just graduated from a T2 law school.  I heard another unrelated guy saying that his father's friend who got a JD after CPA is an independent consultant earning almost $1,000 an hour.

This is my anecdotal evidence. Basically it looks like JD/CPAs are highly valued, I think mainly because JD/CPAs understand both sides of an issue - economical and legal.  It is kind of like the three blind men with the elephant.  You can see a lawyer or an accountant as a blind man with an ability to touch.  Lawyer touches elephhant's leg and says that the elephant is a tree.  Accountant touches the elephant's trunk and says it is a snake.  But JD/CPA is more like a person with only one eye blind.  And in the land of the blind a one eyed man is the king. 

I am going to law school because I love law, but it appears that JD/CPA is a great combination, especially when demand for highly qualified professionals starts to go up with massive baby boomer retirements.
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: cooleylawstudent on February 11, 2010, 06:36:39 PM
Best of luck to both you CPA's and all those in the same field. The JD community is better off for you.  ;)

Try not to throw off my curve too much in class though ok smart guys?  ;D
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: StonewallJacksonFan on February 11, 2010, 07:42:36 PM
Well...we are not going to Thomas Jefferson (even though it has 200% bar passage rate) so you have nothing to worry about, ok?...

Just kidding ;D
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: Thane Messinger on February 14, 2010, 03:30:53 PM
I went back to school when I was at 43 and received my undergraduate degree at 45. I am now a 48 years old CPA working full-time. I am also in grad school, three classes shy of the MS Tax. Would law school be a waste of time? Am I too old? What is the potential for merging my CPA credential with a JD, especially with the MS Taxation? One of the reasons I became a CPA was to start my own firm what is the potential out there for a law/tax practice? What effect would my age have on my employment prospects after graduating (Jan 2011 is my planned start date)?

I should add that I have always wanted to be a lawyer, I am single, no kids and I dont plan to retire.


The answer likely lies in your second statement.  (The part about a lifelong goal of wanting to be a lawyer.)  As a rule, don't go to law school for the money . . . or at least not just for the money.  Where one has an active career already, the calculus is even further removed from the traditional realm of law-school-as-a-prerequisite-to-a-new-career.

As to age:  One friend, an anethesiologist, was 52 when he entered law school.  He was a great addition to the class, and he enjoyed a strong second career in IP law thereafter.  There were two other physicians in our group (one of five sections), and both did *very* well out of law school.

So, the focus, in my opinion, should be on whether one really, truly WANTS to become an attorney.  The reasons are many, and it's entirely fine to have visions from grade school of fame in a courtroom.  (As long as we know that that's the motive.) 

So, in general, disregard the issue of age, current career, combinations of careers, etc., and ask the simple question that should be the same for all future law students:  do you truly, absolutely, positively want to go to law school? 

If, as a test for one day, you say, "Nah, not really." and you realize that you're miserable in contemplating not fulfilling that dream, then go!  Don't worry about the career (there are lots of opportunities for all combinations of xxx/JDs out there--although many will be in smaller firms or government), and don't worry too much about everything else.  The same dynamics will apply as apply to all other law students (grades, etc.), but you will have the advantage of a better focus in your path...which, of course, need not be the same as all other paths.

And best of luck,

Thane.
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: TruffleMomma on March 15, 2010, 09:08:33 PM
From a 40+ current 1L .... GO FOR IT!!!
Be happy, do what you want to do! Having a CPA/JD is wonderful and sooooo needed in the field. Most of the undergrad degrees seem to be in policital science and sociology in my school... We had ONE CPA this year start... ONE! Your age is not going to stop you if you are doing what you want to do... after all, you became a CPA in your 40's... did that give you problems in getting a job???

GOOD LUCK!
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: reywalgurl on June 20, 2010, 01:37:08 PM
I am 47 and will be starting this fall as a 1L. Like you, I have always wanted to be a lawyer. I am not worried about employment prospects. At an admitted students reception, I was already offered a summer internship.  I think because of our age and maturity, we are able to communicate and network more effectively. I only see my age as being an advantage. I think that if law is your passion...you should pursue it...and like the other poster who said that you did not have problems getting work as a CPA at 45, why would you as a lawyer at 50+, I don't think you should let your age hold you back. Good Luck!!
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: cooleylawstudent on June 20, 2010, 03:21:28 PM
You are right about the age thing. Older people(seniors make up the majority of our population nowdays) don't trust anyone not close to their age. Its weird but true. You could have a 30year old with 5 years experience, a solid track record and a 4.0 from Harvard and they'd still view him as a punk kid over a 50 year old online grad with only 1 day experience.

That plus people are lazy as hell, they see age and assume experience. Pereception is 90% of reality.

"oh what a nice man, he has a tie......"
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: the white rabbit on June 20, 2010, 03:33:37 PM
I am 47 and will be starting this fall as a 1L. Like you, I have always wanted to be a lawyer. I am not worried about employment prospects. At an admitted students reception, I was already offered a summer internship.  I think because of our age and maturity, we are able to communicate and network more effectively. I only see my age as being an advantage. I think that if law is your passion...you should pursue it...and like the other poster who said that you did not have problems getting work as a CPA at 45, why would you as a lawyer at 50+, I don't think you should let your age hold you back. Good Luck!!

I think that you're generally right about your age and maturity being a net benefit, though I think that in some instances, it can work against you as well.  (For example, if a potential employer wants someone who can put in 16-18 hours a day for months on end.)  But on balance, I think it will help.

I would, however, caution against taking taking the availability of internships as a proxy for the availability of full time jobs.
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: cooleylawstudent on June 20, 2010, 05:10:51 PM
young kids just jealous, wiper-snaper don't know nothin' daddy must've forgot to give'em a good old fashion whoopin' when they needed it was all.
Title: Re: 48 Year Old CPA - Is Law School A Good Idea?
Post by: the white rabbit on June 20, 2010, 06:23:34 PM
young kids just jealous, wiper-snaper don't know nothin' daddy must've forgot to give'em a good old fashion whoopin' when they needed it was all.

You crack me up when you try to sound all folksy.