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Although most general practice law firms have a tax department, what those tax lawyers do may vary quite dramatically from firm to firm, especially depending on the firm's clients. In addition to reviewing the substance of a tax lawyer's background, tax is the principal practice where a master of laws (LL.M.) is highly desirable. At some firms, it is a mandatory credential. Several law schools have a master's program in taxation. New York University School of Law is widely considered the best among these programs. In addition, many lawyers who have or are taking tax courses to get their LL.M. do so in the evening while employed full time.

A tax lawyer may be a generalist, or his or her experience may be very specific. At a high level, tax experience falls into the following areas:
  • Corporate Tax
  • International Tax
  • Partnership Tax
  • State and Local Tax
  • Trusts and Estates
CORPORATE TAX. Corporate tax lawyers are transactional attorneys who are most likely working closely with the corporate transactional group of their firm. In this capacity, tax lawyers may find themselves advising the corporate department about the tax implications of various business transactions, including mergers and acquisitions. Because the tax implications of a business deal can dramatically change the financial gain or loss from a transaction, the proactive corporate tax lawyer will offer suggestions on how to structure a deal to minimize tax obligations. In this respect, a corporate tax lawyer should be fairly knowledgeable about corporate transactions themselves.
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INTERNATIONAL TAX. International tax law certainly has overlaps with corporate law in some respects. However, international tax has a few distinct elements. One substantial element of the international tax practice is advising clients who are doing business outside of the United States (or foreign clients coming into the United States to do business) with respect to the applicable tax implications of their cross-border corporate transactions.Whether it’s a joint venture between a foreign and a domestic corporation, an investment outside of the United States, or a domestic company doing business overseas, the international tax lawyer will evaluate the tax implication for the business. One particular niche, transfer pricing, involves the taxation issues for domestic companies with foreign affiliates involved in the sale of goods or services.An international tax lawyer must be able to understand relevant international tax treaties and have a sophisticated sense of international corporate structures.

PARTNERSHIP TAX. Generally speaking, partnership tax refers to a more discrete practice than corporate or international tax. Partnership tax covers the taxation implications when choosing a business entity’s structure and the ongoing tax issues of that business. Initially, a lawyer with partnership tax experience will be offering advice with respect to what entity to choose in forming a business, whether it is a partnership, sole proprietorship, limited liability company, or subchapter-S corporation.You will often see “check-thebox” election issues as one of the partnership tax lawyers’ specialties. In addition to offering advice with respect to the formation of a business partnership tax, lawyers will offer advice over the life of the business with respect to the tax implications of its day-to-day activities as well as any notable transactions, including acquisitions and raising capital.

STATE AND LOCAL TAX. State and local tax practices are slightly fewer and farther between. Although larger, full-service law firms are less likely to have tax lawyers with this specific expertise, some firms (some of them quite large) do still have well-known practices. A state and local tax lawyer may be representing either businesses or individuals regarding their obligations to the various states or localities in which they reside or do business.

A state and local tax lawyer may have experience representing an individual before the taxation entity in its home state regarding its tax status.This representation may involve litigation, including defense of criminal prosecution. State and local tax lawyers more recently have been busy advising clients on the tax implications of doing business in multiple states, including doing business using the Internet. Obviously, tax lawyers are always looking for ways to diminish a client’s tax responsibilities in the various jurisdictions where tax may become due.

TRUSTS AND ESTATES. Although some wouldn’t classify the trusts and estates practice as a subgroup of tax (some would call it a stand-alone practice), the heart of the trusts and estates practice is tax.

A trusts and estates practice involves providing advice to individuals (typically high-net worth individuals) on how to best structure their estates. Usually, this involves creating whatever structure for an estate that will best preserve and pass on assets with a minimum of tax liability. A trusts and estates lawyer should generally be familiar with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and life insurance instruments.Trusts and estates lawyers both create and administer such instruments. On occasion, a trusts and estates lawyer will also handle litigation over the disposition of an individual’s assets and the interpretation or the validity of the decedent’s will.
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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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