Usefulness of an NYU Executive Tax LLM

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Usefulness of an NYU Executive Tax LLM

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:03 pm

I have a job in state government in a midsize market. I like it, but it really can't be permanent. I did well in law school and Booked/CALIed/AmJured a few tax classes. I like tax. My job has nothing to do with tax.

If it weren't for fear of being unemployed, I'd go to UF and get a tax LLM because I think it would be interesting. For various reasons, the NYU executive tax LLM program would only cost me about $15000. Since I would keep my job, there would be no chance of being unemployed. My question is whether there is any value in the Executive LLM in this economy.

There is little question that an NYU/UF/GULC LLM still has value to someone already practicing in tax. Whether such degrees add value to a recent graduate or someone practicing in a field other than tax is a bit more unclear. Even more suspect is whether an online degree from NYU would be worth anything in either situation. I have no desire to work in BigLaw, not that that would even be possible at this point. But I would like to find my way into tax (though I have no idea how one does that.)


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Re: Usefulness of an NYU Executive Tax LLM

Postby patrickd139 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:34 pm

Some thoughts, in no particular order:

1) I'd examine your post-grad options to practice tax law before I invested any money in this at all. If you have no tax experience other than doing well in a few tax classes in law school, it's going to be very difficult to explain to potential employers why you're dedicated to something you know little about (in practice, anyway). Getting an LLM in Taxation will help, but it's far from a golden ticket, and it comes no closer to putting out a polished tax attorney than law schools are at putting out a polished attorney of any kind. There's still a lot to learn.

2) Talk to some tax attorneys in your area. See how they got their jobs, what their credentials are/were at the time they got their jobs.

3) If you can find them, also try talking to lawyers who are successful in just now getting their jobs practicing tax law. See how they did it/are doing it. These persons' opinions and guidance are the most valuable.

4) Because tax is such a highly specialized practice, there are (in most localities) very few true tax attorneys who practice outside of tax practice groups in big firms. I don't know where you're located, but it might be a huge ordeal locating employment in the tax field after you graduate.

5) You'll likely want/need the experience practicing tax law in a firm anyway, at least to start out. It's tough convincing future clients of your qualifications to do anything these days, at least at first. Not to mention tax is a highly specialized and complicated field filled with malpractice and Circular 230 mines.

6) The general rule of thumb (on this site and elsewhere, like is that if you're not qualified to get a job at a firm out of law school, an LLM in tax (even from the 'big three' schools) is unlikely to overcome that deficiency.

7) Do you have a BBA in accounting and/or a CPA license? Those will certainly help.

8: Simply declaring that you want to do tax law is far from sufficient. Someone who says "I want to be a tax attorney!" seems a little bit like someone saying "I want to be a scientist!". There are literally dozens of different ways to earn a living as a tax attorney--from being a prosecutor on behalf of the IRS Criminal Tax Division to estate planning in South Florida to advising multinational corporations on the tax consequences of bond and stock offerings to consulting for a Big4 accounting firm as it creates ERISA software, and everything in between. Of course, not all of those jobs even exist in a majority of the cities in the U.S. Either way, I'd try to figure out more what type of tax attorney you think you want to be. Then see if it's even possible to get there, and how one goes about doing that.

9) NYU's executive LLM in taxation is extremely competitive, and historically filled with practicing tax attorneys.

Not saying it can't be done, and I'm not even sure what 'it' you're looking to accomplish, but entering the tax field as an attorney (especially leaving a paying gig to take a year sabbatical in Gainsville) seems like it's a decision you should thoroughly research.

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