Jeffrey Lawson, M.S. ’08, is a shareholder with Stoy, Malone & Company, P.C. His primary areas of concentrations are pass-through entity taxation, state and local taxation and individual income taxation. He recently sat down with The Merrick Exchange and shared his thoughts about his career and volunteering and mentoring at UB.
Merrick Exchange: How did you decide upon a career in the field of accounting?
Lawson: I was originally a marketing major and principles of accounting I and II were required courses. I did well in them and enjoyed them. I was encouraged by my principles II professor to consider changing my major to accounting. I explored the career and learned that a career in accounting was filled with endless possibilities and that the C.P.A. is one of the most respected designations that one could get. I knew that I wanted to work in business but wasn’t sure in what capacity. Since accounting is the language of business I knew I couldn’t go wrong.
M.E.: Where did you get your start? What led you to your current position?
Lawson: I actually started at Stoy, Malone right out of college. I am now a shareholder with the firm and have made it to this level by being a team player and treating each client of the firm as if they are my own.
M.E.: Describe your current position.
Lawson: I am currently a shareholder and direct the firm’s tax practice. My primary areas of concentration are in pass-through entity taxation, multistate and individual taxation. As a shareholder with the firm I am not only responsible for managing current client relationships but also developing new ones. In addition, I am heavily involved with the firm’s staff recruitment and marketing efforts.
M.E.: What were your expectations in pursuing a career in accounting? How accurate were they when you graduated and entered the field?
Lawson: I thought that I would not like doing tax work and that I would prefer auditing. My expectation was that tax work simply entailed filling out forms. I realized that tax work entails lots of planning, research and analytical thinking. I can go days at a time without even turning on a calculator since there is so much research involved in a tax practice.
M.E.: Describe your volunteer involvement with the Merrick School. Why did you choose to become involved with the current students? Has the experience rewarding, and if so, how?
Lawson: Since joining the school’s accounting advisory board almost two years ago I’ve had a lot of great experiences. I’ve assisted in the search for a new accounting department chair by meeting with candidates and sharing my impressions of them with the current chair and Dean Smith. I serve as the chair and a mentor for the Accounting Advisory Board’s mentoring committee. I have participated in the Resume Rally twice and participated in the MGMT 300 Professional Development networking night.
To me, getting involved with current students was a no-brainer. Since I am on the Accounting Advisory Board I feel that it’s important to support the students in a hands-on role. The experience is actually more rewarding than I expected. The MGMT 330 event was my first experience with the students. I was really energized by the experience. So many of the students at UB are true inspirations—many of them are working full-time, raising families and attending school full-time. For them to show their sincere appreciation for the insights that I can provide as a volunteer is one of the most gratifying things I can imagine. The same goes for the Career Center’s Resume Rally. It’s wonderful when you can help set someone on the right path to jumping into their career of choice.
M.E.: Why do you feel it is important for companies to get involved with the Career Center and help students with for example—résumé review?
Lawson: It’s important for companies to get involved with the Career Center and help with things like the Resume Rally because it’s important to give back. Stoy, Malone has always emphasized the importance of community involvement. The benefit to companies is that you never know who you’ll meet. Companies should not just get involved when they are looking to hire. For one thing, even if you’re not actively looking you may come across someone who is a perfect fit. In addition, people you help now may become customers later. This is not why you should necessarily get involved but if you’re wondering “what’s in it for me,” then that could be the answer.
M.E.: What advice would you give to students who might want to pursue a career in your field but are undecided?
Lawson: I would tell them that they should talk to as many people as they can in the career. There are also free memberships with the Maryland Association of C.P.A.s available to students. Membership offers a vast amount of resources and opportunities to meet C.P.A.s in various types of accounting jobs.
M.E.: What's the one job-hunting secret you wish all students knew?
Lawson: When interviewing, it’s generally best to answer questions sincerely rather than trying to figure out what the “right” answer is and providing that answer.
M.E.: Why did you choose to attend UB?
Lawson: It was the only graduate tax program in Maryland.
M.E.: How has attending UB helped you in your career?
Lawson: Besides the education, which was fantastic, the connections I made in grad school helped me. I still run into old classmates in professional settings and get introductions from folks that they know.
M.E.: What personal goal have you set for yourself this year?
Lawson: To do more professional reading (i.e., Journal of Accountancy, various tax journals, etc).
M.E.: What is the last book you read?
Lawson: Next Man Up by John Feinstein.