“My hope is to get a lot of students into accounting who normally wouldn’t take it. If you’re going to run your own doctor’s office or law office, a business course and an accounting course are very helpful. With a liberal arts education attached to an accounting degree, you can do anything.”
Some of us take a more circuitous route than others to find our life’s work.
Christi Hayne was on the fast track to success in the legal world. After graduating from Transylvania and completing a master’s degree in accounting with an emphasis in taxation, she enrolled in law school. She loved it and quickly found herself at the top of her class. Major firms in the Lexington area came calling.
While still in law school, she spent two summers sampling her intended career: tax law. She did some traveling and learned a lot, but soon decided it required too much time in dusty libraries and working amidst taciturn tax lawyers. Her naturally ebullient personality was feeling squelched.
So, after passing the bar, she switched to litigation. More fascinating travel. Lots of depositions. But little time in court and few outlets for interpersonal interactions.
Eventually, Hayne took a position overseeing bankruptcies at a smaller firm.
“I got to utilize my accounting background. I could understand the numbers and talk about what we could do about the situation. That was a little more interactive. Bankruptcy is really exciting, because it’s always an emergency, especially working with debtors. If something happens, they go out of business. So you might file a motion that will be heard in court at 8 o’clock the next morning. It was very fast-paced.”
Still, there was something missing. Throughout this period, Hayne continued to be involved with Transylvania. She was an advisor for Chi Omega sorority and participated in the Friendship Family Program, hosting two students. She found she connected easily with college-age adults.
“One day my mother-in-law, a doctor, finally asked me, ‘Where is your favorite place to be?’ For her, it was the hospital. She knew she wanted to be a doctor. When she asked me that question, I said, ‘It’s Transy.’
So, after a successful law career, Hayne now has the job she realizes she was always destined for. She’s in a dynamic setting, mentoring students who may end up in all sorts of careers.
And she’s excited about applying what she learned in law school and in the legal profession. One goal is to teach her students how to think and solve problems.
“In law school, they don’t teach you how to be a lawyer. They teach you how to think like a lawyer. Then when you get in the practical world you learn how to be a lawyer. I think that’s invaluable.
“In accounting, you’re rarely going to be presented with the same problem more than once. It may look like the same problem, but there’s always going to be a tiny detail that’s different. So you need to have the necessary knowledge and skill to apply to the problem. The answer isn’t going to be in your notes or in a text. You’re going to have to apply what you know.
“Accounting is law. It’s all based on codes, SEC promulgations, tax law, case law—it is the law. As a lawyer, you have to cite everything you turn into a judge or give to your boss. In the accounting world, it’s important to know, ‘Where does this law come from? Where does this rule come from?’”
Once you have some familiarity with Hayne’s career arc, it’s probably not surprising to learn that she loves to travel. While at Transylvania, she studied abroad in Munich, Germany. Afterwards, she traveled throughout Europe with four family members, reveling in every "comedic situation" they found themselves in. She craves seeing new places and learning about other cultures and people in other parts of the world.
In short, she’s always looking forward, toward the next adventure, the next educational experience.
“Traveling is my passion—my bucket list is all 50 states and all continents. My ‘must go’ place is always the place I'm headed next.”