Learning IFRS as a lawyer?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Hanseat, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. Hanseat

    Hanseat Senior member

    Messages:
    236
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2006
    Location:
    Freiburg, Germany
    Hi,

    I've been wondering for while now whether it's worth taking the time to learn IFRS?

    My situation: I'm a third year law student and am about to start my specialization in business law (mostly capital markets/ finance and M&A). It'll be at least another four years until I'll start practicing, more likely 6 years.

    Essentially, I wonder whether it makes sense for a lawyer to learn accounting?
    I'll never be as good as a CPA and when I'm working on deals I'll be doing the law side solely.
    Sure, it's important to understand what your client talks about but for a general insight an introductory course might suffice; I could spend that time on my actual law studies.
    I'm uncertain how important this is if I decide to go into capital markets law or M&A.

    So, should I learn IFRS or just take the introductory course?

    Is it too early to learn this kind of thing? I'll do an internship with either PWC or KPMG so I'd have some opportunity to apply my knowledge but I fear I'll be pushed too far away from the legal side of the business.


    Thanks in Advance,

    Hanseat
     
  2. bigbjorn

    bigbjorn Senior member

    Messages:
    619
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2008
    No. I'm a management consultant whose clients (bulge brackets and global FSI companies) will all be converting to IFRS reporting within the next few years. You don't need to know much about IFRS - just that it's another reporting standard, like UK GAAP or other GAAPs. No one is going to ask you how loan impairments (for example) are treated differently under IFRS than under US GAAP. That's what technical accountants are for.

    It's always good to take a basic accounting class. Understanding a balance sheet is pretty critical in any business.
     
  3. FidelCashflow

    FidelCashflow Senior member

    Messages:
    4,328
    Likes Received:
    44
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    Learning IFRS is a waste of time as a lawyer, its just so far beyond the scope of the information you'll need to know for work. Even if you work for KPMG and PWC, you'll need to know very little and they'll teach you the relevant bits and pieces on the job.
     
  4. lifersfc

    lifersfc Senior member

    Messages:
    353
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Learn something about numbers. Sponsors find M&A lawyers who can't do math really annoying.
     
  5. Serg

    Serg Senior member

    Messages:
    577
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Understand accounting in general but leave technical stuff for the technocrats. If someone has a question worth asking about it (i.e. something specific and technical) you won't know it and you won't remember it if you did learn it because you are not practicing it. Also a course in IFRS is pretty worthless unless you have a good accounting background because they tend to be comparative (i.e. whats different from US GAAP to IFRS)
     
  6. Milhouse

    Milhouse Senior member

    Messages:
    2,059
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Professionally, I agree with others, it would be mostly a waste. You can spend that time learning other more important things that you will use regularly.

    Personally, I'd say take a basic class or spend some time with a basic book so that you can read financial reports for your own investing.
     
  7. jdcpa

    jdcpa Senior member

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
    Congratulations on almost finishing law school, that's great. I struggled with this question also while I was in law school. I ended up choosing to do the CPA exam and the cert. I agree that it is not essential and it isn't always 100% applicable. However, I don't feel that it was a waste of time. In my experience it added a lot to my study of law and my understanding of the problems that clients brought. Naturally, I'd never do the accounting work or analysis myself but it was helpful to be able to know exactly what the forensic accountants and auditors wrote in their reports. I found it worked well in tax, bankruptcy and some business transactions. On the practical side, it seemed that I was able to gain a lot more OCI interviews and call backs because of this feature; however, I'm not sure if that is just a correlation comprised of many other factors.

    Unless you are really interested in the technical side you can gain a lot of this knowledge through single classes which you can put on a resume to demonstrate your experience. The internship with PWC or KPMG is great. The PWC internship usually is pretty rigorous but you get to spend a week at Disney World so it was worth it. I'm not sure about KPMGs.

    Lastly for IFRS or GAAP that is exactly the thing you tend to learn on the job. Even as an accountant, the specifics of IFRS or GAAP was generally learned as the problem arose.

    Cheers,
    ML
     
  8. SirSuturesALot

    SirSuturesALot Senior member

    Messages:
    1,510
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Congratulations on almost finishing law school, that's great. I struggled with this question also while I was in law school. I ended up choosing to do the CPA exam and the cert. I agree that it is not essential and it isn't always 100% applicable. However, I don't feel that it was a waste of time. In my experience it added a lot to my study of law and my understanding of the problems that clients brought. Naturally, I'd never do the accounting work or analysis myself but it was helpful to be able to know exactly what the forensic accountants and auditors wrote in their reports. I found it worked well in tax, bankruptcy and some business transactions. On the practical side, it seemed that I was able to gain a lot more OCI interviews and call backs because of this feature; however, I'm not sure if that is just a correlation comprised of many other factors.

    Unless you are really interested in the technical side you can gain a lot of this knowledge through single classes which you can put on a resume to demonstrate your experience. The internship with PWC or KPMG is great. The PWC internship usually is pretty rigorous but you get to spend a week at Disney World so it was worth it. I'm not sure about KPMGs.

    Lastly for IFRS or GAAP that is exactly the thing you tend to learn on the job. Even as an accountant, the specifics of IFRS or GAAP was generally learned as the problem arose.

    Cheers,
    ML


    Were you originally an accounting major, or did you pick up all of this CPA/PWC stuff while you were in law school?
     
  9. jdcpa

    jdcpa Senior member

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
    I started the accounting while I was in law school. I did a few classes in undergrad but then did a certificate while I was in law school. I did the PWC as the summer internship. Oddly enough I was having trouble finding a law firm to do the summer internship so PWC seemed attractive. After I did their internship I went back towards law and was able to get picked up there.
     
  10. Hanseat

    Hanseat Senior member

    Messages:
    236
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2006
    Location:
    Freiburg, Germany
    First of of all I would like to thank you for your replies. This week I attended a conference and got to ask the question as well. The replies from corporate lawyers at big firms echoed pretty much what you said. So, once again this is proof that SF is an infinite source of wisdom. [​IMG] I'll be putting in some time in to learn basic accounting techniques so I'll properly understand my future clients; not more and not less.
     

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by