Tax: For Your Consideration

Memo to NYU Law 1L students from the tax area group (2018-2019)

Dear student: As you decide among spring semester 1L electives, we wanted to ask you to consider taking Income Taxation. We know you have many great choices of 1L electives to take. You should consider taking tax at some point during your studies. We think this course is important for every lawyer, no matter their practice area.

Why study tax? (Even if you do not intend to be a tax lawyer)

  • For your clients: No matter your practice area, tax implications can arise, particularly in areas such as corporate/transactional, criminal, family law, trust and estate, public interest, public policy, litigation, etc. You want to be able to spot common tax issues and be conversant enough to interact with tax advisors.
  • For yourself: Over the course of your careers you may have complex personal tax issues of your own. So find tax law before it finds you! Also, our faculty feel that understanding tax makes you a better citizen, and better able to understand some of the most important political issues in our country.

Would you want to practice tax law?

  • Job satisfaction: A 2014 Vault.com survey of nearly 17,000 associates found tax practice to be the highest in terms of associate satisfaction. This may be because tax groups are small and attorneys often end up there by choice.
  • Employer variety: In addition to law firms, there are jobs in “big 4” accounting firms, government, and as “in-house” tax counsel.
  • Range of practice areas: Within tax, you can find specialties in transactional/mergers and acquisitions, estate planning, international tax, state and local tax, employee benefits and executive compensation, tax controversy, etc. While transactional practices can be demanding, other areas may have a more predictable and balanced work load.
  • A “small town” feel: At large law firms, tax groups are smaller and the practice area is more collegial than other practice areas, such as litigation. Even in tax litigation, arguments tend to be over the law rather than the facts, and discovery and depositions are highly unusual for transactional lawyers.
  • Planning ahead: In order to gain experience in tax as a summer associate, some law firms prefer that students have taken both Income Taxation (4 credits) and Corporate Tax I & II (4 credits) by the end of their 2L year. If you like tax, the 3L year is a good time to look at courses like international tax and partnership tax. Tax is a huge subject area, so there is a time investment to gain and maintain competency, but once you master it you can deliver incredible financial value to your clients.
  • English majors are welcome: You don’t need to be a math ace or have been an accounting major to do well in the study of tax. While some practice areas within tax may involve more quantitative analysis, mostly you just need to enjoy a good puzzle.

For more information: Professor Mitchell Kane (teaching Spring 2019 1L Income Taxation); or John Stephens, Director, Graduate Tax Program