LLM, CPA and MST?


I am a JD-MBA (with an unrelated undergrad degree) who recently began working for an accounting firm. I hope to at some point get an LLM in tax and either go into tax practice (particularly as it relates to estate planning) at a law firm or become a law professor. My current firm has a heavy emphasis on learning and would like for me to get CPA certification. They will pay for the exam in full and for the prep course provided I stay there for 2 years. Depending on how one reads their rules they may also give me a bonus if I pass. However, since I was not an accounting major in undergrad I remain a few (11) credits shy of that required to take the exam. My employer will, to make up for these credits and some, put me into an MST program (if I so desire) and pay the whole bill in full. It would take 3 years but since the MST is about twice as many credits as I need for the CPA, I could probably take the exam and (hopefully) pass it before those 3 years are up.

So here is my question- like I originally stated, I hope to at some point go into the legal side of tax more than compliance (although this does have some research as well). Is there any benefit to getting a CPA and/or MST in addition to the LLM? I find it hard to say no to free credentials (plus I love school and studying). I know that the MST-CPA route approaches tax from a different angle than the LLM but not sure how to reconcile the two. If I do get the CPA-MST would it put me at any advantage or disadvantage for getting into an LLM program or finding work post-LLM in the legal side of tax?

Any input you might have would be greatly appreciated"

Thanks
I am a JD-MBA (with an unrelated undergrad degree) who recently began working for an accounting firm. I hope to at some point get an LLM in tax and either go into tax practice (particularly as it relates to estate planning) at a law firm or become a law professor. My current firm has a heavy emphasis on learning and would like for me to get CPA certification. They will pay for the exam in full and for the prep course provided I stay there for 2 years. Depending on how one reads their rules they may also give me a bonus if I pass. However, since I was not an accounting major in undergrad I remain a few (11) credits shy of that required to take the exam. My employer will, to make up for these credits and some, put me into an MST program (if I so desire) and pay the whole bill in full. It would take 3 years but since the MST is about twice as many credits as I need for the CPA, I could probably take the exam and (hopefully) pass it before those 3 years are up.

So here is my question- like I originally stated, I hope to at some point go into the legal side of tax more than compliance (although this does have some research as well). Is there any benefit to getting a CPA and/or MST in addition to the LLM? I find it hard to say no to free credentials (plus I love school and studying). I know that the MST-CPA route approaches tax from a different angle than the LLM but not sure how to reconcile the two. If I do get the CPA-MST would it put me at any advantage or disadvantage for getting into an LLM program or finding work post-LLM in the legal side of tax?

Any input you might have would be greatly appreciated"

Thanks
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runnergirl
I would say that if your firm is paying for the MST, go ahead. I have my MST and JD, and will be enrolling in a Tax LLM in 2012. So, obviously I don't know what the LLM classes are like and how they compare to the MST courses, maybe someone who has gone through the LLM classes can give more insight or I'd be happy to update you down the road if you're still interested.

The MST, however, was a great experience -- not only do I feel well-prepared for the LLM, but I am 100% sure that I want to study and teach tax law for my entire career. A number of the classes (partnership, SALT, and estate, off the top of my head) were aimed at lawyers rather than accountants. Many classes at my business school were taught by adjunct practicing attorneys, which surprised me, but I learned so much about the practice of tax law. So if you are interesting in doing tax law rather than accounting, I think you can learn a lot in an MST program. And if you do stay with an accounting firm, the practical aspect was also heavily emphasized - I used calculators on many exams which included application problems.

I did not get my CPA as I don't have any desire to work for an accounting firm. The reason I am getting my LLM is to learn more about tax policy, tax legislation etc. - the classes that aren't necessarily covered in an MST program - and because I want to produce some tax scholarship during the program under the guidance of what I'm sure will be great professors. The MST program provided a really great foundation for this. I don't see how it could possibly hurt. Going into your LLM, you'll have a foundation in individual, partnership, corporate, international and estate tax - you'll understand practice and procedure - you'll know the differences between tax and financial accounting - and you'll just have a strong working knowledge of the code and regs, from an academic as well as a practical standpoint. And the admissions committees of any University you apply to will see that you are committed to tax, and, assuming you do well, it will show them that you understand tax and will likely do well in the LLM program.

Plus - who doesn't want to have a few more letters after their name?
I would say that if your firm is paying for the MST, go ahead. I have my MST and JD, and will be enrolling in a Tax LLM in 2012. So, obviously I don't know what the LLM classes are like and how they compare to the MST courses, maybe someone who has gone through the LLM classes can give more insight or I'd be happy to update you down the road if you're still interested.

The MST, however, was a great experience -- not only do I feel well-prepared for the LLM, but I am 100% sure that I want to study and teach tax law for my entire career. A number of the classes (partnership, SALT, and estate, off the top of my head) were aimed at lawyers rather than accountants. Many classes at my business school were taught by adjunct practicing attorneys, which surprised me, but I learned so much about the practice of tax law. So if you are interesting in doing tax law rather than accounting, I think you can learn a lot in an MST program. And if you do stay with an accounting firm, the practical aspect was also heavily emphasized - I used calculators on many exams which included application problems.

I did not get my CPA as I don't have any desire to work for an accounting firm. The reason I am getting my LLM is to learn more about tax policy, tax legislation etc. - the classes that aren't necessarily covered in an MST program - and because I want to produce some tax scholarship during the program under the guidance of what I'm sure will be great professors. The MST program provided a really great foundation for this. I don't see how it could possibly hurt. Going into your LLM, you'll have a foundation in individual, partnership, corporate, international and estate tax - you'll understand practice and procedure - you'll know the differences between tax and financial accounting - and you'll just have a strong working knowledge of the code and regs, from an academic as well as a practical standpoint. And the admissions committees of any University you apply to will see that you are committed to tax, and, assuming you do well, it will show them that you understand tax and will likely do well in the LLM program.

Plus - who doesn't want to have a few more letters after their name?
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Awesome. Thank you! I will definitely look into it. I was tempted to already but your comment definitely cemented it for me.
Awesome. Thank you! I will definitely look into it. I was tempted to already but your comment definitely cemented it for me.
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