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Why Study Tax Law?

More and more aspiring lawyers are choosing to specialize. One area with a lot to offer is tax law. Here is a closer look at seven benefits of specializing in tax law, along with one program which can help aspiring tax law professionals gain a critical inside edge.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Education
Why Study Tax Law?

1. Tax lawyers are the most satisfied of all law professionals

Compared to specializations like immigration law and criminal law, tax law may not sound that exciting. It is, however, something else: uniquely fulfilling. In fact, according to data collected by a Vault Law Firm Associate Survey, tax lawyers were the most satisfied with their jobs out of the 20 practice areas surveyed. One respondent explained, “We get to do incredibly interesting work in tax, and I think I am always learning new things.”

2. The adage holds true: “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

When it comes to job security, tax lawyers are in a good place. For starters, because everyone is subject to tax laws, tax lawyers are needed in every sector. They can also work in a variety of capacities, including as in-counsel for businesses and at law and accounting firms, as well as for the government. Linda Galler asserts in a Tax Lawyer article, “Tax law is relevant in both good economic times and bad; there are tax issues in mergers and acquisitions, and there are tax issues in bankruptcy and foreclosures. So it is likely that one can make a living over the long haul.”

Plus, as lawyers acquire more experience and expertise, they become even more valuable. “Given the substantive difficulty of tax law, expertise matters. Therefore, time invested in learning new concepts or techniques can pay dividends over the course of a career,” adds Galler.

3. It’s an ever-changing area of law with plenty of variety

Just because job security is strong for tax lawyers doesn’t mean it’s same-old, same-old. Because tax law is always changing, it can be an especially exciting field to practice in.

Galler asserts, “The tax law changes frequently, and those who relish ‘keeping up’ enjoy this aspect of their tax careers. A significant part of tax practice involves studying changes in the tax law, evaluating how those changes affect existing client structures, and advising clients about the effects of such changes on future plans. Students who enjoy perusing the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times business pages often consider tax careers.”

Day-to-day work is also varied. A tax lawyer may work on many different matters, including structuring an acquisition, writing a tax opinion, or giving general tax advice. Compared to other lawyers, a tax lawyer’s time is not usually taken up by one or more large matters, Sara McLeod writes for Above the Law.

As tax lawyers progress through their careers, they can also develop even more specialized expertise within certain areas of tax law, such as M&A (mergers and acquisitions) and financial products.

Even the clients are diverse in tax law and can range from Joe Public to massive corporations. This also adds up to refreshing variety.

4. It’s an intellectually challenging area of law

Indeed, while tax law may not sound sexy, for a certain type of person who loves an intellectual challenge it proves to be pretty much that. “Tax problems are puzzles yearning to be solved, and students who can’t sleep until they’ve solved the problems in their tax casebooks gravitate to tax jobs. Creative problem solvers are attracted to tax,” Galler insists.

5. Your work will have an impact

Tax law has the potential to directly impact people, businesses, and their reputations. As such, tax lawyers have the potential to advise their clients in such a way as to understand and achieve their best interests. So while it may seem like crunching numbers, it’s much more than that.

6. You’ll have many career options, including in international practice

International tax law was once considered a niche practice area. However, that’s changed with globalization. “Today, particularly in large firms, most tax lawyers practice, at least to some extent, in the international arena, with clients who are foreign investors in the United States or domestic persons with interests abroad, or both.” So if you are interested in an international career, tax law is a promising avenue.

7. You’ll enjoy many opportunities to collaborate

Tax law is inherently collaborative. Tax lawyers often work as part of teams alongside corporate lawyers and other lawyers specializing in niche areas, such as labor law, securities law, and employee benefits law. Accountants, financial planners, life insurance professionals, and in-house staff are also likely to be involved. Even the clients themselves are likely to actively participate in their tax law affairs.

Introducing the Graduate Tax Program at UCI Law

Now that we’ve covered the many benefits of pursuing a career in tax law, it begs the question: Where should you study it? This is where the Graduate Tax Program at UCI Law comes in. The program is geared toward domestic applicants who’ve completed their J.D. degrees as well as international candidates who have received a law degree in their home countries.

The top graduate tax program on the West Coast, this innovative LL.M. curriculum offers a winning combination of theory and practical skills aimed at qualifying graduates to practice tax law at high levels -- either in the United States or abroad. Aspiring tax attorneys, judges, tax administrators, and policy advocates can all enhance their career prospects through the Graduate Tax Program.

Choosing a high-quality law program can fast-track your career, and UCI Law boasts an exceptional reputation. U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of best law schools awarded it the number seven spot among public universities and the number 23 overall. According to the TaxProf blog, meanwhile, UCI Law is the top graduate tax program on the West Coast and the number five graduate tax program overall.

While rankings tell an important part of the story, so does something else: testimonials from the students themselves.

LL.M. in Taxation candidate Kathryn A. Peyson says, “The distinguished faculty members of UCI’s Graduate Tax Program have already been so instrumental in advancing my tax career. In class, students are able to acquire the necessary skills to effectively navigate the Internal Revenue Code. We do numerous amounts of problems that prepare us for practice. One of my favorite parts of the program is that the curriculum is very hands-on. Additionally, UCI has fostered a close-knit environment, where I have been able to make great contacts with tax professionals and strong bonds with fellow tax students and the faculty."

Kathryn’s classmate Jake Trinh adds, “UCI's Graduate Tax Program is a phenomenal place to study tax law. One of the best aspects of UCI is its emphasis on experiential and practical learning because it allows students to be practice-ready. Moreover, the faculty is fully committed to ensuring both educational and professional student success.”

...The Graduate Tax Program’s stellar faculty is a common theme. In fact, just about any participant in the program is likely to mention the faculty first. Take LL.M. candidate Vladimir L'Ouverture, for example: “In terms of offering exceptional doctrinal knowledge, the collective experience of the core Graduate Tax faculty already proves that UCI Law can hold its own against other top tier Tax LL.M. programs. What sets UCI apart is the practical experience. As a student in the California State Tax Clinic, I will have actual experience handling tax matters for clients, prior to graduation. Nowhere else could I say this to be possible,” he says.

Also worth noting? The Graduate Tax Program at UCI Law is also an avenue to a change in direction for many practicing lawyers. “Making the decision to go back to school and transfer to tax after practicing in another area for three years was not easy for me. However, since my first conversation with Professor Marian, I knew I found the right place. The UCI Graduate Tax Program is truly a unique program that is dedicated to student success,” says Tax LL.M. candidate Grace Guan.

Perhaps Tax LL.M. candidate Connor Bills put it best in declaring, “The Graduate Tax program at UCI Law has been the best decision I have made for my professional goals. [...] The courses offered here are structured in a way that allows me to pursue my interest in transactional tax and be fully prepared to enter the legal profession as a confident and capable tax associate.”

If you’re interested in specializing in tax law and you’d like to acquire the same excellent training and practice, UCI’s Graduate Tax Program is a game-changer. The application deadline is June 1 2020.

Article written in association with UCI Law.

Joanna Hughes


Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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