Law School Discussion

LLM in tax without a JD

LLM in tax without a JD
« on: July 16, 2012, 02:09:49 PM »

I will graduate with a Master's in accounting by the end of the year. Also, I will have passed the four CPA exams by then.

I recently made the decision that I want to go to school for tax law but another three years of school seems daunting. I am aware of Villanova's LLM program for those who are certified CPAs (even though they do not have a JD). Are there any other schools I am not aware of that will accept students into their LLM program who are not foreign or a JD graduate?

160+ LSAT score (trying to get in the 170s)
4.0 MA GPA thus far; terrible undergrad GPA

Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2012, 02:22:52 PM »
I didn't know that it was possible to get an LL.M without a J.D., that's interesting.

Here's my question: what's the utility of the degree, and is it worth what you'll pay in tuition? An LL.M without a J.D. will probably not allow you to take the bar and practice law, so what's the advantage? If the reason is simply to gain knowledge of tax law, you might as well get an LL.M from a cheap online source rather than pay tens of thousands of dollars to Villanova. I don't think the LL.M will permit you to give legal advice, so I wonder about it's cost/benefit.

Are you sure it's not an M.A. in Law, or something like that?


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Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2012, 03:29:02 PM »
I don't think you need an LLM.  I think a JD would help you more with your career.  I know a couple CPA's who got JDs and now do a combination of estate planning and tax.  Both of them had opportunities to do LLM's but their prospective employers recommended against it.

If you have a passion or a desire to practice tax law, bankruptcy, family law, or criminal law, you can do so as long as you OK in school.  (By contrast, it takes a ton of talent, skill, and luck to be an entertainment lawyer or a BigLaw M&A guy).

I don't usually tell anyone to give law school a second look (Statistically it's not a great decision for a large minority of students). In your case, I think you should really think about doing a J.D. if you can get into a school in the area you want to work.  Tax and Estate law are more predictable, your clients are likely to pay, and most of your clients will be happy.   If you stay on the transactional side, you'll have less emergencies than most other practice areas.  However, if you work on estate litigation (will/trust contests and probate) you'll get emails from the occasional pissed of client at night or on the weekend.

Beware of law school, unless you are a science rock star and want to do IP, or unless you are a Tax rock star and want to do Tax/Estate.

My four cents.

Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2012, 07:13:10 PM »
A JD or a foreign equivalament like a LLB is usually the preliminary requirement for a LLM.  In any event, the LLM by itself does not qualify one to practice law.

A CPA-Lawyer is not necessarily going to earn more than a non CPA Lawyer. I would make a decision based solely on enhanced earnings (if any) over a CPA and the loss of time, earnings, and costs involved in getting the JD.  Finally, given the IRS crackdown on tax planners, I am not sure the old dodge of hiring a CPA-Lawyer to do tax planning and thus get attorney client privilege will be viable any longer?


Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2012, 10:22:38 PM »
There are online masters degree in taxlaw that might help if you just want the education.

Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2013, 06:31:02 AM »
Sorry for bringing up such an old thread, but it seems like your question was never answered.
There are several schools that will allow accountants to pursue their LLM without a JD.
While it is true that getting your LLM will not allow you to practice  law, as an accountant you're probably not interested in taking the bar or practicing law anyway.
An LLM is a great addition to your CPA and many Director/Manager positions at large CPA firms require an LLM in tax as a minimum to get the job.
Your best bet is to contact the admissions department of the schools you are considering to see what the possibility of enrollment for someone in your position is.
Many schools will likely take an accountant who just needs to increase their knowledge of tax law even though they may have a JD listed as a requirement for their program.
In our office here at PWC I personally know 5 directors and several lower managers who all have their LLM and not a single one of them has a JD.
Best of luck.

Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2013, 07:40:23 AM »
Interesting do you know what schools allow the tax law LLM without a J.D. Also would a tax law LLM allow you to practice in Tax Court? Just curious about that as I have accountant friends interested in a Tax Law LLM

Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2013, 08:47:49 AM »
You would not be able to practice law in tax court without a J.D.
Your friends would need to contact the admissions department of whatever schools they are considering to find out what exemptions are available for accountants.
Since we're in Florida everyone in the office here seems to have gone to UF, but I'm sure just about any school would take someone who had a legitimate reason for not wanting a J.D. while still needing the llm

Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2013, 09:18:06 AM »
As far as I can tell, UF currently requires a JD for admission to the LL.M in Taxation program. It's listed as a basic requirement.

Villanova, the school the OP asked about, appears to draw a clear distinction between LL.M admissions and M.T. (Master's in Taxation) admission. I do not believe that an LL.M in taxation can be earned by a non-JD, but an M.T. is a possibility.

Not to get too caught up in definitions, but I think that LL.Ms are specifically limited to JD holders, whereas MTs are more open.

Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2013, 05:49:41 PM »
Yea I was under the impression a J.D. was a prereq to an LLM program, but I imagine the best people to ask our admissions officers of the various LLM programs.

I would think having a tax law L.L.M without a J.D. would be a bad idea. Nobody other than lawyers have any idea what an LLM is and without a J.D. it would just seem off, but I am just some guy posting on the internet what do I know.