Choosing a career path can be a daunting task for young individuals trying to make the right life decisions.
Hundreds of questions and doubts can cloud one’s judgment, which is even worse if there is no mentorship program in place.
If you have narrowed down your search to law or accounting, this article is just for you. Read on to learn more.
Should I study Law or Accounting (for students)?
You should think about studying Law. If you enjoy research and document analysis, are critical-thinking, and are passionate about achieving justice in society. Accounting is a wonderful career path if you are interested in money management, financial records, and reporting.
Accounting and Law are both respected professions with tons of room for growth, especially if you’re a motivated student. Each domain provides immense opportunities to make money, climb the corporate ladder, and explore various career paths within the field.
The private and public sectors are both open for accountants and attorneys to find good job opportunities in each field in today’s market. Primarily, there are two types of working spaces:
• External: For example, working with a reputable firm that provides business or legal solutions to other companies.
• Internal: For example, operating within the company to check financial records or dealing with legal company practices.
However, it is also possible for individuals from both fields to operate independently as a standalone resource for others to hire. Although lawyers and accountants both work in a corporate environment, they are masters of very different craft. Let’s take a look at them individually.
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What Lawyers Do Every Day?
The job description of lawyers is to counsel, guide, and represent people, companies, or government services in court in case of a legal dispute or concern(1). Lawyers, aka attorneys, typically have a strong understanding of the state’s laws and regulations, allowing them to operate as representatives and advisors.
As a representative, lawyers may advocate someone in a court trial (criminal or civil) by offering proof of innocence in favor of their client. These proofs are generally hard evidence or convincing points that may convince the jury and win the case.
On the contrary, lawyers who act like advisors work in the background, offering consultation and counseling to their clients to plan the next set of actions. Whether it be a personal or business matter, attorneys can suggest legal solutions in the light of the latest law and judicial practices.
Attorneys may have different designations and titles, depending on the nature of their industry. For example, public defense attorneys represent citizens of the state if any individual cannot afford a private lawyer.
On the other hand, a prosecutor fights the legal battles of government agencies against individuals charged with law violation(s). Although the titles are different, lawyers carry out a specific set of tasks common among each industry, which are:
• Counseling and representing clients in courts regarding any legal matter, private or professional
• Building a communication channel between everyone involved, including judges and colleagues
• Researching and analyzing the legal problems in great detail to fully understand the case
• Having a 100% understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding the current dispute
• Ability to document facts and arguments to present them in front of the clients and judges with verbal commandments
• Catering to all legal documents, for example, subpoenas, lawsuits, final wills, and more
What Accountants Do Everyday?
Accountants are usually responsible for auditing and managing the financial records of an individual, company, or government agency (2). Their primary goal is to examine potential opportunities along with areas of risk to provide detailed financial solutions.
They also have to ensure that the records are correct, void of any statistical mistakes to ensure the legal accuracy of the documents.
People in the accounting profession find themselves much closer to the latest technology than lawyers.
A good example can be the surge in the use of artificial intelligence to automate the redundant or lengthy processes that take a lot of time if done by a human.
It allows the accountants or auditors to be more productive at their jobs as they can focus primarily on vital analytical components rather than silly math mistakes.
At the end of financial analysis, accountants typically provide a detailed report of their findings that explains the economic structure of the business or individual.
The information may contain statistical figures, graphs, and suggestions that can be valuable for the management to refine their practice.
Like lawyers, accountants also have many specialized fields and titles, depending on their work environment.
You’ll find government accountants that are responsible for maintaining and examining government records. And also public or management accountants that cater to private organizations and individuals. The general duties of an accountant are:
• Monitoring the finances of a business to ensure that they align with modern laws and regulations while staying accurate.
• Handle tax-related activities such as computing tax, managing tax returns, and paying the required tax on time
• An extensive overseeing of financial activities to identify weak points and introduce the newest accounting techniques to improve efficiency
• Documenting of financial records while organizing and analyzing them regularly
• Identifying fraud risks to warn the company against mismanaged use of resources or money
• Provide suggestions and advice to optimize cost efficiency, boost revenue and determine profit margins.
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Is Law School Easier Or Harder Than Accounting?
A Law degree is more difficult than an Accounting degree since it requires more effort, commitment, and lengthy hours of study to complete the challenging coursework.
It may sound very cliché, but your preference and interest in a respective field determine whether you’ll find it easy to learn new concepts or you’ll be playing Mario Kart on your phone during the lecture.
Of course, both are professional fields that require specialized study of intricate matters, and no one will serve it to you on a silver plate.
But if an individual finds themselves at home while writing pages or creating essays, they may find it easy to do the lawyer work. And if someone is into numbers and mathematics, they might discover accounting as their cup of tea.
Regardless, there are some dissimilarities in the educational process of both these professions.
For example, law students have to pass an additional bar exam conducted by a federal agency to start their legal practice after their graduate exam.
On the contrary, accountants don’t necessarily have to specialize in a field to be legally eligible for job opportunities. They can complete the designated hours and get a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification.
So in direct comparison, an accountant degree may involve fewer extensive educational steps than a law degree.
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Law Or Accounting, Who Earns More? (Explained)
According to a statistical report from May 2020 (1), the median annual pay of lawyers is around $126,930.
This amount refers to the number which divides the total population in half, meaning 50 per cent of lawyers earn more than the median amount, while the other half earns less.
The same study also suggests that the lowest 10 per cent managed to earn less than $62,490, while the top 10 per cent earned a staggering $208,000 annually.
On the other hand, accountants enjoy a median annual wage of $73,560 (2), which is relatively less than what lawyers make. The lowest 10 per cent managed to earn $45,220, while the top 10 per cent got their hands on $128,680 per year.
Hence it is safe to say that being a lawyer can bring you more riches than being an accountant.
If you appreciate the research and document analysis, are critical minded, and are enthusiastic about advancing justice in society, you should consider studying law. If you prefer focusing on money management, financial recording, and reporting, you should consider studying accounting.
Accounting and law are both respectable professions with plenty of opportunities for advancement, especially if you’re a motivated student. Each domain offers numerous options to earn money, advance in the corporate ladder, and pursue multiple career options within the area.
We conclude this article with a high expectation that you now understand the crucial differences and key details around both reputable professions.
Whether you want to be a lawyer or an accountant, your determination to do better while refining your personality/skills can help you achieve your goals and master your craft.
A good accountant can do wonders in the legal industry, and a vigilant lawyer can make their way into a financial firm. It’s all up to you!
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