Suggested Tax Courses for JD Students
If you plan to work on transactional matters as a tax lawyer at a large corporate law firm or a major accounting firm, you should take two additional advanced tax courses before graduating. First, after taking Corporate Tax I & II, you should take Partnership Taxation (3 credits). Many of your future clients may be organized as partnerships rather than corporations (e.g., private equity funds and hedge funds) or may desire to form partnerships when creating new businesses. Second, you should take Survey of International Taxation (4 credits) or International Tax I, II and/or III (6 credits total). As cross-border transactions have increased dramatically in recent years, if you plan to advise business clients, you should take at least one course on international taxation.
If you are interested in serving in government, working at a think tank or pursuing a career in legal academia, you should consider enrolling in one of the several tax policy seminars that we offer each year. The Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium (4 credits) offers the opportunity to pursue tax policy and theory, along with related issues of public economics, at an advanced level. Each week, this colloquium focuses on a work-in-progress by a leading tax scholar. The Federal Budget Policy and Process Seminar (2 credits) provides students with the basic tools of the lawyers and analysts who work with the federal budget, while also asking them to delve into theory underlying federal budget policymaking. Finally, Tax Policy (2 credits) examines the legal, economic and political considerations relevant to the formulation of tax policy. Even if you are interested in pursuing a career in government, policy or academia, you should not feel that you have to enroll in all of these seminars. Further, a student who is interested in pursuing a business tax practice may also benefit from taking one of these tax policy offerings.
If you find the tax law exciting, but have little desire to engage in transactional tax planning involving large corporations and partnerships on a daily basis, you may enjoy advising individual, rather than business, clients. Estate and Gift Taxation (3 credits) provides a survey of the federal taxes on donative wealth transfers, including the estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes. Tax-Exempt Organizations (2 credits) focuses on the tax treatment of public and private charities exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, as well as business leagues, social welfare organizations, social clubs, and other types of tax-exempt organizations. Finally, Tax Aspects of Charitable Giving (2 credits) provides an in-depth analysis of income, estate, and gift tax issues affecting donations to charity.
Tax controversy involves the representation of taxpayers, both individuals and businesses, in disputes with the taxing authority (such as the IRS) at the administrative and judicial levels. If you are interested in tax and feel that litigation appeals to you more than corporate work, this practice area may be a good fit for you. To test this possibility, consider taking Survey of Tax Procedure (1 credit) or Tax Procedure (2 credits). If you enjoy these courses, and your schedule will allow it, consider taking Tax Penalties and Prosecutions (2 credits), which focuses on the legal, practical, and ethical issues related to the imposition of civil and criminal tax penalties.