Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

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mrperfect101
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Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby mrperfect101 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:30 pm

Good Afternoon,

I am currently a rising 3L and interested in pursuing my LLM in International Taxation beginning in the Fall of 2014. I would like to hear some informed opinions on what I need to be doing to distinguish myself from other applicants. I am currently enrolled in Corporate Tax and International Tax and will be taking other tax courses my final year of law school. I completed the Volunteer Income Tax Clinic this past month and will be participating in it next year as well. I am a minority student and have a career goal of working for the federal government as a tax attorney or at least getting a job with a law or accounting firm.

Is applying to a law school LLM program the same "dog and pony show" as applying for J.D. admissions?

Talar
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby Talar » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:13 pm

It will depend on your current law school rank, gpa, and tax interest (which includes grades in tax classes). It's not as selective as admission to LS. For example, the two best programs, NYU and GULC, will usually admit grads from T2 and T3 schools who are in the top 25%. I can't really give you more specific information because I don't know. Hope that helps.

mrperfect101
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby mrperfect101 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:26 pm

Talar,

Thanks for the information, it does help and I will do more research on this topic. Where would you suggest I look to obtain more information about applying to LLM programs?

Jay Obee
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby Jay Obee » Wed May 01, 2013 12:15 pm

Check out the forum on taxtalent.com

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patrickd139
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby patrickd139 » Wed May 01, 2013 12:34 pm

Current NYU LLM here. What do you expect to accomplish with a tax LLM that you don't have coming from your JD school?

rad lulz
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby rad lulz » Wed May 01, 2013 12:49 pm

patrickd139 wrote:Current NYU LLM here. What do you expect to accomplish with a tax LLM that you don't have coming from your JD school?

Probably "employment"

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patrickd139
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby patrickd139 » Wed May 01, 2013 1:05 pm

rad lulz wrote:
patrickd139 wrote:Current NYU LLM here. What do you expect to accomplish with a tax LLM that you don't have coming from your JD school?

Probably "employment"

In that case, depending on the type of employment they're looking for and where, it's almost certainly a piss-poor idea for him/her to get an LLM in tax.

mrperfect101
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby mrperfect101 » Wed May 01, 2013 1:07 pm

Well for one I would like to take advantage of a network that is specialized to help me find employment after I complete the LLM. In addition, I would like to have a strong base set of corporate/international knowledge that is much more in-depth than a J.D. class offers.

In addition, I have been told by various sources and through my own independent research that the IRS, U.S. Dept. of Treasury, Big Four, and large law firms value the LLM distinction, even over a J.D. who has taken several tax courses. Ultimately, I would be happy working for any of the above employers, I just want to make sure that I am as prepared and marketable as I can be in this regard. I plan on taking the California bar and moving to the west coast to practice International Tax law, specifically Domestic Activities of Foreign Businesses and Transfer Pricing.

To Patrickd139: I feel that the J.D. program doesn't provide me with as much scholarly writing experience in tax as I would with an LLM. As we all know, effective legal writing is one of the invaluable skills employers demand in entry-level attorneys.

To Jay: Thanks! I registered with the site and look forward to seeing what opportunities I can become involved with.

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RetakeFrenzy
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby RetakeFrenzy » Wed May 01, 2013 1:13 pm

tag

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patrickd139
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby patrickd139 » Wed May 01, 2013 1:17 pm

mrperfect101 wrote:Well for one I would like to take advantage of a network that is specialized to help me find employment after I complete the LLM.
This is the most important part of what you should think about (and respond to in this thread) when considering an LLM--
Where did you go to law school?
Where in the class did you graduate?
Do you have any job offers right now?

mrperfect101 wrote:In addition, I would like to have a strong base set of corporate/international knowledge that is much more in-depth than a J.D. class offers.
You'll get this, but it likely won't be necessary with whatever job you end up working in. They'll teach you what you need to know.

mrperfect101 wrote:In addition, I have been told by various sources and through my own independent research that the IRS, U.S. Dept. of Treasury, Big Four, and large law firms value the LLM distinction, even over a J.D. who has taken several tax courses. Ultimately, I would be happy working for any of the above employers, I just want to make sure that I am as prepared and marketable as I can be in this regard. I plan on taking the California bar and moving to the west coast to practice International Tax law, specifically Domestic Activities of Foreign Businesses and Transfer Pricing.
Those are some pretty specific plans you have. Here's the thing most people don't tell you: if you're not capable of landing those jobs out of your JD program, you won't get them by coming to an LLM program. There are anecdotal stories out there of success, but you're betting a ton of money and foregone earnings on very small chances.

mrperfect101 wrote:To Patrickd139: I feel that the J.D. program doesn't provide me with as much scholarly writing experience in tax as I would with an LLM. As we all know, effective legal writing is one of the invaluable skills employers demand in entry-level attorneys.
This is my favorite. Part one: Students get zero 'scholarly writing experience' earning an LLM in tax. Unless you count exams and outlining as 'scholarly writing experience.' It's just another year of doctrinal tax courses. I suppose you could take a seminar and write a paper, but that seems like a silly thing to spend $85k to do. Even if you're on TLR at NYU, you're just Bluebooking and editing other scholars' works.

Part two: employers do not at all value 'scholarly writing experience' in tax. In the transactional sense, you're going to be doing due diligence of tax returns, etc. If you do litigation, it's not scholarly writing, but persuasive, argumentative brief-writing. The rest of it especially for a new associate like you're talking about is just memo writing like everything else.

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patrickd139
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby patrickd139 » Wed May 01, 2013 1:21 pm

I should add that I'm (obviously) not anti-LLM. I just think a lot of people in my class this year came here expecting golden tickets at graduation. That's far, far from the case.

mrperfect101
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby mrperfect101 » Wed May 01, 2013 1:27 pm

Ok Patrickd139, well without revealing too much personal information, what convinced you to pursue your LLM at NYU. Did you even consider Florida, Georgetown, or Northwestern as viable options?

Another thing I have heard about tax LLM programs is that they are especially good if you dont have a strong background in tax. However, I feel that I have several courses, VITA, and other assets that would make me an appealing candidate.

As far as costs are concerned, how likely are scholarships/fellowships awarded to diverse students? I ignore the statement that it's all about grades, it kind of sucks that we're in a particular profession that rewards meritocracy based on resources, education, and how effectively you can crunch out an exam in 4 hours... sigh, such is life...


I attend a T30
I'm probably in the bottom 50%
Don't have any job offers right now, although I am working an internship in a tax related field. I'm currently a 2L set to graduate in Spring 2014... MY plan was to start the LLM application process in January 2014, get accepted to T4 (hopefully w/ money) and finish Spring 2015.

Anonymous User
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 01, 2013 1:47 pm

Question for Patrick and other current/past LLMs: I've heard anecdotally that if you go J.D. straight to LLM, there's the potential that you will get destroyed on the curve by attorneys who have 3 or 4 years work experience in tax and are getting the LLM to boost their credentials or change career paths. The rationale was that these attorneys have been dealing with issues every day that are far more complicated than what you would see on an LLM exam. Any truth to that at NYU/Georgetown? (I could potentially see that if you had an accounting or similar background, this effect would be largely mitigated)

Also wanted to relay to OP, and people with more experience feel free to comment, that what seems like an interesting opportunity is to "clerk" on the tax court in D.C. for a two-year term and get the LLM part time at Georgetown while you're there. Seems like this might help you stand out at TIP

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patrickd139
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby patrickd139 » Wed May 01, 2013 2:13 pm

mrperfect101 wrote:Ok Patrickd139, well without revealing too much personal information, what convinced you to pursue your LLM at NYU.
Lots of moving parts to this one came together that made it a 'now or never' thing. It only cost me around 30% of sticker with scholarships, wife's job, etc. to attend. I had almost zero debt from UG and law school, so the end student loan bill wasn't going to crush me. My market-paying firm (which hired me into their tax program) held my offer contingent on graduating from the program. So I went into the program jobsecure. I also knew if I didn't go now, there wasn't another point in my life where my wife and I could just pack our lives into a suitcase and bail for 10 months without some major inconveniences. I also came here to rapidly climb the tax law learning curve, which I feel like has been immensely beneficial. I did not come here for a job.

mrperfect101 wrote:Did you even consider Florida, Georgetown, or Northwestern as viable options?
I considered GULC as an option briefly because my firm has an office in DC and I could have attended part-time at night while starting as a new associate. I ended up running the numbers and deciding it was a wash long-term financially with the NYU scholarship and would be a helluva lot more fun in New York than DC (which it has been).

mrperfect101 wrote:Another thing I have heard about tax LLM programs is that they are especially good if you dont have a strong background in tax. However, I feel that I have several courses, VITA, and other assets that would make me an appealing candidate.
It's less exposure, and more about making sure you're committed to practicing tax as a long-term (or at least foreseeable future) career move. If you're not committed (or if you're not 'good at it'), this program is hell, no matter which way you slice it.

mrperfect101 wrote:As far as costs are concerned, how likely are scholarships/fellowships awarded to diverse students? I ignore the statement that it's all about grades, it kind of sucks that we're in a particular profession that rewards meritocracy based on resources, education, and how effectively you can crunch out an exam in 4 hours... sigh, such is life...
Not sure what your precise question is here. If you're asking if they give scholarships to people with poor grades, then I'm not sure. My gut reaction is a 'no' but scholarships at LLM programs are a black-box for the most part.

mrperfect101 wrote:I attend a T30
I'm probably in the bottom 50%
Don't have any job offers right now, although I am working an internship in a tax related field. I'm currently a 2L set to graduate in Spring 2014... MY plan was to start the LLM application process in January 2014, get accepted to T4 (hopefully w/ money) and finish Spring 2015.

A few points here:

First, it's not looking good for you getting in to NYU with those grades. The T30 will help, but I think you're going to realistically need to be in the top half of your class with stellar (Read: A- or better) grades in all of your tax courses. That's just to get in. That says nothing about scholarships. It says even less about whether you should (even if you can get in) actually attend.

Second, there's no "T4" for LLMs. Rankings are bullshit. NYU outclasses everyone else and it's not even close. GULC is a nice option, but I personally don't know anyone who a) got into NYU and b) could realistically attend and chose GULC over NYU. I know several who didn't get into NYU, got into GULC or UF and chose not to attend because they couldn't come here. UF is okay if you're from the southeast and want to stay there, but I'm pretty sure most identical NYU LLM students could take a job from a UF LLM grad any day of the week. I have no empirical evidence to back this up though. Northwestern is trying hard, but it's just now getting its program off the ground. It's lagged behind GULC and UF for some time, and those programs both lag far behind NYU in terms of overall quality and job prospects.

Just to reiterate, if your job prospects are poor going into the program, having an LLM (even one from NYU) is not going to save you or do anything but marginally increase them. It will, however, put you almost $100k in the hole with more debt. That's a ton of money for not-that-increased job prospects.

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patrickd139
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby patrickd139 » Wed May 01, 2013 2:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Question for Patrick and other current/past LLMs: I've heard anecdotally that if you go J.D. straight to LLM, there's the potential that you will get destroyed on the curve by attorneys who have 3 or 4 years work experience in tax and are getting the LLM to boost their credentials or change career paths. The rationale was that these attorneys have been dealing with issues every day that are far more complicated than what you would see on an LLM exam. Any truth to that at NYU/Georgetown? (I could potentially see that if you had an accounting or similar background, this effect would be largely mitigated)
It's a wash. Most people with experience are taking the program part time and do the readings on the subway between work and class each night. There are really bright students who come JD-LLM with no work experience from stellar schools.

Mostly, grades don't matter. If you're a student from a top JD program who did well, that's going to carry you with mediocre grades in the interviewing process as far as you can go. If you're the guy with mediocre grades and work experience, it's the work experience that's going to do it. If you've got fantastic grades but no work experience and came from a less than stellar JD program, you're likely still not going to get hired at the major firms.

Finally, there's no way to graduate with honors unless you're the very, very top of the class. Like, I think only one or maybe two people from each class graduate with any distinction.

Anonymous User wrote:Also wanted to relay to OP, and people with more experience feel free to comment, that what seems like an interesting opportunity is to "clerk" on the tax court in D.C. for a two-year term and get the LLM part time at Georgetown while you're there. Seems like this might help you stand out at TIP
Almost every judge on the tax court requires their clerks to have an LLM before clerking. Mostly because they can, so I'm sure there are exceptions.

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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 10, 2013 8:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Question for Patrick and other current/past LLMs: I've heard anecdotally that if you go J.D. straight to LLM, there's the potential that you will get destroyed on the curve by attorneys who have 3 or 4 years work experience in tax and are getting the LLM to boost their credentials or change career paths. The rationale was that these attorneys have been dealing with issues every day that are far more complicated than what you would see on an LLM exam. Any truth to that at NYU/Georgetown? (I could potentially see that if you had an accounting or similar background, this effect would be largely mitigated)

Also wanted to relay to OP, and people with more experience feel free to comment, that what seems like an interesting opportunity is to "clerk" on the tax court in D.C. for a two-year term and get the LLM part time at Georgetown while you're there. Seems like this might help you stand out at TIP


I'm also an NYU tax LLM. I find the difference regarding the curve being how many tax classes people took in their JD programs. I took >14 credits of tax in my JD program and honestly feel like the NYU program wasn't worth it because of all of the repetition. People who have only taken one or two tax classes are getting killed in the curve (or are working MUCH harder to keep up), but in all honesty I think they are getting more out the program. For me it's just a parking spot until my biglaw job starts since I was an evening student in JD and had to wait an extra year to start at biglaw (long story, but summer classes during my SA allowed me to graduate early and do the LLM while waiting).

Also, little to no shot at tax court without first getting the LLM. Lastly, forget about any school lower than NYU if you can get into NYU- from most of the practitioners I've met, it's NYU or "oh, they have an LLM program?". Seriously, I talked to the head of tax at a huge corp and he had never even heard of Florida's LLM.

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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 13, 2013 8:16 am

For what it is worth, I knew a few people from law school that went the tax LLM route and it worked out very well for them. When facing the prospect of no job or a tax LLM from a good school, it is a reasonable gamble to make, especially if you actually want to do tax and you have internships doing tax work. I know plenty of tax jobs will not look at you without an LLM. It is no golden ticket, but it is not a terrible idea.

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patrickd139
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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby patrickd139 » Mon May 13, 2013 8:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:For what it is worth, I knew a few people from law school that went the tax LLM route and it worked out very well for them. When facing the prospect of no job or a tax LLM from a good school, it is a reasonable gamble to make, especially if you actually want to do tax and you have internships doing tax work. I know plenty of tax jobs will not look at you without an LLM. It is no golden ticket, but it is not a terrible idea.

Dangerous anecdote is dangerous. For instance, plenty of people every year without job prospects from college, but who actually want to practice law and have law firm internships in college, take out ~$100k in student loans to go to law school. For a vast majority of them, it doesn't work out.

How, exactly, did your classmates do at NYU? What precisely were the jobs they landed that helped it "work out very well?"

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Re: Taxation LLM: Factors influencing acceptance.

Postby Anonymous User » Mon May 13, 2013 7:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Question for Patrick and other current/past LLMs: I've heard anecdotally that if you go J.D. straight to LLM, there's the potential that you will get destroyed on the curve by attorneys who have 3 or 4 years work experience in tax and are getting the LLM to boost their credentials or change career paths. The rationale was that these attorneys have been dealing with issues every day that are far more complicated than what you would see on an LLM exam. Any truth to that at NYU/Georgetown? (I could potentially see that if you had an accounting or similar background, this effect would be largely mitigated)

It's kind of a mix. (I'm a JD but my course lineup is LLMish.) Partially, it depends on the course; if you have 9-11 am Corporate/Partnership/International Tax, not a lot of practitioners in there. In 8-10 pm Extremely Specific Tax, you're going to have some people who are practicing. Some of them know a lot of the material as a result, but not all of them, and some of them don't care about their grades since they already have jobs. I can think of one example of a person who had been practicing for a certain number of years and just very obviously knew all the material in the course on day one, but that was also a very niche course that was too small to be curved, if it's any comfort. (And even if it were curved, sure that guy's taking the A, but he's not gobbling up the A-s and B+s too.) The curve can be harsh in some classes, at least as far as getting a top grade is concerned, but in my observation it's probably more due to a core of super smart full-time LLMs rather than the practitioners. I would say it's not something to be seriously concerned about, although if it were, I also doubt that an accounting background would be helpful.




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