Combined Law and Accountancy

#1

It has come to my attention that increasingly employers are expecting individuals have a much broader knowledge base and therefore simply being away with accountancy and business is insufficient with employers expecting individuals to have a much greater understanding of other factors such as legal issues. This is being reflected in the fact that business schools are often offering units in law to supplement the business, management, finance units. However what is the thought of individuals entering the accountancy world at postgraduate level having previously studied law or vice versa?
Also there seems to be more combined degrees between Economics and Law or Accounting and Law. Is there anyone out there who has done one of these combined degrees and did you choose to go down an accountancy / legal route? Do you think this combination of skills will become more or less in demand?
Any thoughts anyone?

#2

A very good friend of mine studied accounting at undergraduate level and then went on to convert into law and work as a commercial lawyer. I know this isn’t strictly speaking what we were talking about necessary but she has certainly found that having knowledge and qualifications in both accountancy and law has been beneficial particularly when it comes to being taken seriously by clients. It’s more a matter of understanding the terminology and be able to fully engage with the client says she understands their basic issues. I’m guessing the reverse would be true if somebody chose to study law and then move into accountancy.
I guess one of the major dangers is that someone will study either accountancy or law as a secondary subject and will then try to compete with individuals who have much more knowledge in this area. A little knowledge being a dangerous thing! I’ve been provided the secondary subject is treated as just that and other introduction to the types of issues that may be relevant it is truly beneficial but care should be taken not to become a jack of all trades.
Just my two pennies worth!

#3

Thanks – it’s good to know I’m not the only one who sees this as a good way to go. I just can’t help but feel that I need to make myself look better than the rest of the applicants and maybe having a combined degree would do this. I don’t think we can ignore the fact that the law is central to everything although I’d be more inclined I think to go on to look at doing a couple of legal units rather than necessarily doing a full combined degree. Maybe that’s just because I don’t fancy spending hours learning the ins and outs of legal rules but still I see benefits in doubling up but maybe not completely. If that makes sense!

#4

Stella. I think the drudgery of learning law can be nullified by the use of a combined degree but nonetheless one should remember that accountancy has its won field of law. I well recall sitting in the library and studying Charleston’s Mercantile Law. There is this cross over between the legal and accountancy professions and I am not just referring to the fees they charge! Company Law and Contract Law are shared by both and thus a degree that permits study of both areas is I suggest a solid approach.
Often when there are cases of negligence of due diligence there is a great call for the professions to work together as also when a company is on say on an IPO path. Also when the raising of capital in its many styles is being addressed there is a need for cooperation between all parties.
An understanding of the support processes can be established by undertaking a combined degree so I personally think there are plus points to this.

#5

This issue of the possibility of combined degrees is continuing to interest me and I’ve been looking into the various different courses and the types of careers that past students are now following. I’ve got to say now that I am looking into it in more detail I’m even more confused!! Some past students seem to think it was the making of them and meant they had something special to offer but others feel like a bit of a jack of all trades! By speaking to someone involved in accountancy at a high level I think the issue of negligence and due diligence is more relevant than I thought before as even if you have studied quite a bit of law the accountants will still need to bring in very experienced lawyers to deal with the legal issues. That said an ability to study both aspects of the degree courses does set you aside and shows a more general commercial knowledge.
I think my conclusion is that it can help to get that foot in the door but don’t expect to be able to use the knowledge that much as it won’t be sufficiently detailed to really be of use in a practical sense.

#6

I am interested in the statement related to negligence and due diligence. In respect of negligence there is a definite input from accountants into that process but it is primarily the field of lawyers. the accountants will produce the factual evidence and support the position with contemporaneous evidence but that is their sole contribution. As to whether it is negligent is down to the lawyers. A good few years ago I had the experience of being an expert witness in a case where the plaintiff had bought a business on forged figures. I prepared all the accounting arguments and then the lawyers took over. This is a classic example of the two fields working together. Glad they did as my legal aid fee was enough to buy a new car. However in the field of due diligence the fields are reversed. The area of due diligence is led by accountants who will instruct the lawyers. I am of course assuming that the work of completing the deal is separate to the true due diligence that precedes that situation. These are of course not the only arrears where the professions compliment each other and I am thinking of forensic work which is on the growth.