Summary: Learn more about what it is like to be a Tax attorney in this article.
What Does a Tax Attorney Do?
This practice area category focuses on the law as it relates to matters of taxation, including corporate tax matters, income tax, and taxes on capital gains.
This work is divided up into federal and state/local tax.
State tax attorneys deal with litigation-related issues (people looking for refunds or appealing an assessment).
Federal attorneys deal with tax controversy (audit and litigation support) and transactional issues (cross-border transactions, M&A support, work for mutual funds, and so forth).
Tax work in major law firms requires that an attorney gets an LL.M. to get extra exposure to various tax law issues.
Why Do Tax Attorneys Enjoy Their Jobs?
Attorneys who enjoy this work are attracted to the intellectual nature of the work.
The work often requires that attorneys think through complex scenarios very carefully to reach creative solutions.
People who are introverts tend to enjoy tax-related work because there is very little client contact.
Many tax attorneys enjoy being the "go to person" for advice on arcane issues of law.
This is also a good practice area to go in-house with and most large companies have a stable of tax attorneys in their legal departments.
The hours that tax attorneys work also tend to be predictable and most tax attorneys tend to have a more predictable schedule than other attorneys.
What Are the Difficulties of Being a Tax Attorney?
This is a rule-intensive practice and attorneys need to be versed in rules that are changing almost daily.
Attorneys who do not like this practice area are also often turned off by the fact that it can be very deadline intensive because corporate attorneys will contact tax attorneys for advice at the very last moment.
Tax tends to be a small practice area within most firms which makes it difficult for attorneys to make partner.
How Easy Is It to Move Laterally as a Tax Attorney?
This has traditionally been a very difficult area for attorneys to lateral between firms in.
There are typically numerous applicants for each position in the market.
There are a high number of tax LL.M.s and attorneys in accounting firms who are hungry for most positions.
Since tax lawyers typically are in a supporting role for corporate attorneys and tend to be introverted, they often do not generate business at all, but a few get weeded out when they get more senior (this is a very difficult practice area to make partner in).
Also, because the work is so specialized, the majority of the positions tend to be in major markets (New York City, in particular) and tax attorneys generally cannot move to smaller markets.
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