Sometimes, whenever a business needs the services of a lawyer, such a need oftentimes cuts across more than one area of expertise or specialty. One good and commonly found example, is when it concerns tax and accounting issues. It is perhaps for this reason that there is a growing trend to find lawyers who are simultaneously Certified Public Accountants (CPA’s) or vice versa. Given how finance and legal matters are two of the most important issues that can cripple a business if not handled properly and carefully, it is not very difficult to see how a business will often be hard-pressed to find the right lawyer and accountant to help solve whatever financial or legal issue the business is facing, ranging from tax issues, to book-keeping issues or irregularities, to lawsuits and many more.
The first question that will likely arise, is whether there are any obvious advantages to be had from hiring such dual-purpose professionals, rather than hiring two separate individuals or companies. The first and most obvious answer to that question will obviously be in the fact that doing so can very likely be more cost effective for the business, than if it had to hire two separate entities. Additionally, there is also the fact that there is likely to be a synergy or economies of scale to be obtained from working with a CPA-attorney.
Both legal and accounting backgrounds are, on their own, very sought after skill-sets. Combined together, they have the potential to open so much more doors than either degree or training can do for the individual singly. All in all, such dual certification and training will make for a much more rounded professional who can provide much more value to their client, as the skills learned in each field will broaden their horizon even more than either profession can do alone.
Roles and Responsibilities: CPA V Attorney
As previously stated, the roles of a CPA and an attorney, and more specifically an attorney who is more on the business side of things, are often diametrically opposite to each other in the everyday roles they play. However, in some instances, they are quite similar with very few differences. Some of the traditional roles of a CPA and an attorney are discussed below
Duties of a CPA.
- Tax preparation and advising: Certified Public Accountants are at their very core just like any other accountant, and at such numbers is their ‘thing.’ To this end, they very often end up in tax advisory and/or preparatory roles for various businesses or corporations.
- Auditing: The auditing of various financial books and records to ensure everything is accurate and up to scratch is yet another core function that many CPA’s can be found performing. Additionally, they will also be found performing bookkeeping and financial reporting tasks.
- Oversee budget and financial management: This again goes to underscore the earlier point made about accounting being a numbers game. To this end, CPA’s will likewise often be found performing budgeting and similar financial management functions in an organization.
Duties of a (business) Lawyer
Unlike a CPA, business lawyers hardly ever deal with figures perhaps except when it comes to tax matters. Otherwise, their field of expertise cuts across a wide variety of practice areas as it relates to the business. Having said that, some of the more traditional roles that you will find a lawyer performing, within the context of a business include the following:
- Dealing with contractual matters
- Intellectual property and copyright issues
- Bankruptcy/tax fling
- Cases of litigation
- And many others.
As can be gleaned from the above roles of both professionals, the one place where their paths cross is when it comes to financial matters- tax matters for the lawyer, and accounting/budgeting/tax issues for the CPA. It is exactly at this very juncture that a combined CPA-attorney provides the most value for a business that requires such a service.
Benefits of Hiring a CPA-Attorney
When a business requires the services of an accountant and a lawyer, the traditional approach is to either hire one firm that has several departments that house these two functions, or alternatively hire two separate companies or individuals. For small and mid-sized businesses, the cost implication of doing so can be quite heavy. Hiring a CPA-lawyer ensures that such a business is able to get two for the price of while still taking advantage of the aforementioned advantages of working with the same person. Any lawyer or CPA wishing to upskill themselves and become a CPA-attorney can take advantage of CPA Exam Prep Guides available online to pass the test.