How to Become a Lawyer Accountant

Lawyer accountants must obtain both a bachelor's degree and a juris doctor degree.

Lawyer accountants must obtain both a bachelor's degree and a juris doctor degree.

A lawyer accountant is both a licensed lawyer and a licensed certified public accountant, or CPA. While lawyer accountants can work in a variety of legal and accounting fields, their unique skill set is well-suited for a career in tax law, estate planning, corporate finance law, white collar criminal law or forensic accounting. Also, lawyers with accounting backgrounds often work in the legal department of accounting firms or for the Internal Revenue Service.

Earn a bachelor's degree in accounting or another related financial field from an accredited college or university. Since most states require 150 semester credit hours to become a CPA, you may need to obtain a master's degree to meet this requirement. Some schools offer a five-year combined bachelor's and master's degree program to meet this requirement.

Take the Uniform CPA exam and receive a passing score. The Uniform CPA exam is a standardized test that covers four major areas: auditing and attestation, regulation, accounting and reporting, and business environment and concepts.

Obtain one to two years of work experience under the supervision of a CPA, or for as long as your state requires.

Apply for licensure from your state's Board of Accountancy.

Take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, and apply to law schools accredited by the American Bar Association, ABA.

Attend an ABA accredited law school and earn a juris doctor degree. If you are a full-time student, this should take you three years. Focus your coursework on classes that involve aspects of both accounting and the law, such as tax law, corporate finance, land finance, real estate law and estate planning.

Apply for admission to the bar in the state where you want to practice law. In order to gain admittance, most state bars will require you to pass an examination and undergo an extensive background check regarding your character.

Tips

  • Check your state's specific requirements for CPA licensure on the American Institute of CPAs This Way to CPA website.
  • Check your state's specific requirements for bar admission in the National Conference of Bar Examiners' Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements publication, which is available online.
 

About the Author

Lisa S. Kramer is a licensed attorney practicing civil litigation and estates and trusts law in southern Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude. Kramer earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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