How Should You Answer the Interview Question about Providing Legal Advice to Your Accounting Clients?


An accountant is asked to wear a lot of hats throughout the course of their career. One of those hats is often a financial lawyer or law expert. But that isn’t within the scope of your experience, for the most part. So how do you handle it when someone asks you these questions? A potential employer will want to know your perspective on this when they’re making a hiring decision, so planning ahead for interview questions about providing legal advice will give you an advantage over those who haven’t prepared. Here are some ideas to get you started.

What not to talk about.

What the interviewer wants to know is whether or not you’re willing to give legal advice even if you’re not trained in these processes. So you should understand that you don’t have the credentials to provide legal advice on finances or taxes, but that you are more than happy to offer your personal opinion with the caveat that your client should seek out professional advice as well. Let them know you understand not to discuss liability in changing business structure, operating agreements, or best states in a legal capacity for corporations.

What to emphasize.

Instead, emphasize the experience you do have and what you can talk about that may help someone make a good decision on pursuing legal advice in the future. For example, you can talk about tax changes and the financial impact they will have on your business clients. You can also discuss which states have the lowest rates or other accounting topics that can help inform legal decisions.

Make yourself more marketable.

What you can do is pursue education or certification in compliance. This isn’t a license to provide legal advice, but you can provide more concrete financial advice that can help clients make decisions. This will also help you with providing the right paperwork for the services that your clients need rendered in terms of compliance financial advice. Look into continuing education offerings in your area.

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