By Parag Patel, Esq.Keep anything related to your tax return for at least three years…
American Bar Association Publishes Article Entitled “Tax Law” in the October/November 2006 issue of American Bar Association’s GPSOLO magazine
American Bar Association Publishes Local Tax Attorney’s Article
Tax attorney Parag P. Patel, Esq. published an article entitled “Tax Law” in the October/November 2006 issue of American Bar Association’s GPSOLO magazine. The GPSOLO magazine is nationally published and widely circulated by the American Bar Association’s ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division.
The article highlights various aspects of a tax law practice for future professionals.
As Ben Franklin once said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If that is true, then the practice of tax law is a niche practice area that may always have work.
Few law students, and even fewer attorneys, seem to like tax law. In fact, one tax attorney claims to say that when asked why he wanted to practice tax, he would reply, “because you don’t want to.”
Seriously, when a law student or new attorney asks me about what is the best area of law, I reply an area that is specialized in which fewer attorneys practice. For me, that area of practice has been tax law. I have been practicing tax law for the past 12 years since graduating from law school and have thoroughly enjoyed the practice area.
What is tax law?
While it may seem to be a narrow practice area, tax law is very broad with many varieties of practices. For instance, in terms of jurisdictions, there are state and local tax areas, federal tax, and international tax. Within each jurisdiction, there are many subspecialties.
Tax attorneys can be found in many employment settings, in both the public and private sectors, including large accounting firms. Clients can include individuals, government bodies, private and public businesses from a small family business to Fortune 500 corporations. Tax attorneys often work closely with attorneys in other practice areas, as well as other professionals, such as accountants and financial advisors.
Virtually everything an attorney does for a client will have a tax consequence, whether it is a marriage dissolution or drafting a last will and testament, or advising and executing complex commercial transactions. Whether the client is an individual or a huge corporation, the tax attorney’s goal is to maximize the preservation of assets and the positive impact on the bottom line. This is accomplished through careful tax planning and counseling of clients, and advising clients on the tax aspects of financing such as public and private offerings, debt instruments, equity stakes and other tax-oriented investments.
Path to Tax Law
What initially attracted me to tax law was my business and accounting background. In law school, tax law courses were easier for me because there was a clear answer to the problem. Although very intricate, there are no wishy-washy answers like in other areas of the law. You looked to the tax code, regulations or maybe a case.
Many tax attorneys have undertaken special coursework or training to become familiar with the many substantive areas of tax law. A master of laws degree (LL.M) in taxation is common among tax lawyers and is considered a “must have” credential for many firms’ tax practice groups. In addition, an LL.M in tax law can allow student or new lawyer to become well versed in tax law quickly. There are over two dozen law schools throughout the United States that offer an LL.M in tax law program.
There are literally hundreds of treatises and resources available to tax attorneys. Since tax law is a rapidly changing practice area, there a dozens of tax journals and periodicals providing updates on the latest tax legislation and rulings. Most tax attorneys read or subscribe to at least one resource to keep up to date with tax developments.
The ABA Tax Section is an active section with dozens of subcommittees focusing on different areas of tax law. The ABA Tax Section publishes the Tax Lawyer, a scholarly law journal, as well as several newsletters. In addition, nearly every state and local bar association has a tax section or committee where tax attorneys can share resources and advice. Some bar association’s tax sections even have a mentorship program where new attorneys and law students can be mentored by an experienced tax attorney.