3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

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3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:57 pm

I’m wondering if it is too late to try to switch into tax and if not, how I should go about looking.

I’m a 3L who has a biglaw job this fall in the firm’s M&A group. During 2L SA I tried a bunch of different corporate practice groups (M&A, finance, PE, cap markets) and ended up getting placed in the M&A group full time. I never even considered doing any tax work during the summer and don’t really know anyone in that group.

This past year, I’ve taken a couple of tax classes and really liked them. I’ve been doing a lot of research and it seems like for career prospects and firm lifestyle, tax isn’t a terrible place to be. I’d really like to try to do some tax work (transactional) at the firm, possibly even do it full time. Is this possible or am I pretty much stuck in M&A for the foreseeable future?

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I’m wondering if it is too late to try to switch into tax and if not, how I should go about looking.

I’m a 3L who has a biglaw job this fall in the firm’s M&A group. During 2L SA I tried a bunch of different corporate practice groups (M&A, finance, PE, cap markets) and ended up getting placed in the M&A group full time. I never even considered doing any tax work during the summer and don’t really know anyone in that group.

This past year, I’ve taken a couple of tax classes and really liked them. I’ve been doing a lot of research and it seems like for career prospects and firm lifestyle, tax isn’t a terrible place to be. I’d really like to try to do some tax work (transactional) at the firm, possibly even do it full time. Is this possible or am I pretty much stuck in M&A for the foreseeable future?


What firm? Do they have a tax group/how big is the tax group?

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I’m wondering if it is too late to try to switch into tax and if not, how I should go about looking.

I’m a 3L who has a biglaw job this fall in the firm’s M&A group. During 2L SA I tried a bunch of different corporate practice groups (M&A, finance, PE, cap markets) and ended up getting placed in the M&A group full time. I never even considered doing any tax work during the summer and don’t really know anyone in that group.

This past year, I’ve taken a couple of tax classes and really liked them. I’ve been doing a lot of research and it seems like for career prospects and firm lifestyle, tax isn’t a terrible place to be. I’d really like to try to do some tax work (transactional) at the firm, possibly even do it full time. Is this possible or am I pretty much stuck in M&A for the foreseeable future?


It's your like of the subject matter that will make biglaw life more tolerable, not anything inherent in tax that makes work-life necessarily better from a day-to-day perspective. (In today's law firm world, all practice areas have to carry their weight, so hours in tax can be just as heavy as in other practices.) So if you're really engaged in the subject matter, definitely consider it.

Tax also offers opportunities for relatively junior people to gain expertise because the entire tax universe is so complex. When a new reg comes out, you can more or less will yourself into being an expert on that particular issue, and I've found that tax rewards entrepreneurial personalities in that way (maybe because such personalities are otherwise under-represented in Tax).

I think Tax does tend to be a little more predictable in terms of overall hours, like most advisory practices, but that's tempered by the fact that it's still a law firm, and "predictable" only extends to matters you already work on. You may still get a call at 3pm on Friday from a partner who needs you to work on something over the weekend for his client. You do tend to travel less than some practices, so that's a plus, but maybe M&A is basically the same.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby nealric » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I’m wondering if it is too late to try to switch into tax and if not, how I should go about looking.

I’m a 3L who has a biglaw job this fall in the firm’s M&A group. During 2L SA I tried a bunch of different corporate practice groups (M&A, finance, PE, cap markets) and ended up getting placed in the M&A group full time. I never even considered doing any tax work during the summer and don’t really know anyone in that group.

This past year, I’ve taken a couple of tax classes and really liked them. I’ve been doing a lot of research and it seems like for career prospects and firm lifestyle, tax isn’t a terrible place to be. I’d really like to try to do some tax work (transactional) at the firm, possibly even do it full time. Is this possible or am I pretty much stuck in M&A for the foreseeable future?


If your firm's tax group is willing to take you on, I would do it. I'm obviously biased as a tax attorney, but I think your experience will be infinitely better than it would be in the general M&A practice. Be aware of the internal politics, however. Tax groups are smaller than M&A groups, and they may not want someone who isn't 100% committed. Also, they may or may not have need for another tax associate. If they don't, you may be deemed as a flight risk by your corporate group and not given good work. Long story short- be discrete. If you made friends with any tax associates during your summer, they may be a good place to start.

If your firm won't get you into tax, I did work with a tax associate at my old firm who lateraled from an M&A group after 6 months. It can happen.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I’m wondering if it is too late to try to switch into tax and if not, how I should go about looking.

I’m a 3L who has a biglaw job this fall in the firm’s M&A group. During 2L SA I tried a bunch of different corporate practice groups (M&A, finance, PE, cap markets) and ended up getting placed in the M&A group full time. I never even considered doing any tax work during the summer and don’t really know anyone in that group.

This past year, I’ve taken a couple of tax classes and really liked them. I’ve been doing a lot of research and it seems like for career prospects and firm lifestyle, tax isn’t a terrible place to be. I’d really like to try to do some tax work (transactional) at the firm, possibly even do it full time. Is this possible or am I pretty much stuck in M&A for the foreseeable future?


It's your like of the subject matter that will make biglaw life more tolerable, not anything inherent in tax that makes work-life necessarily better from a day-to-day perspective. (In today's law firm world, all practice areas have to carry their weight, so hours in tax can be just as heavy as in other practices.) So if you're really engaged in the subject matter, definitely consider it.

Tax also offers opportunities for relatively junior people to gain expertise because the entire tax universe is so complex. When a new reg comes out, you can more or less will yourself into being an expert on that particular issue, and I've found that tax rewards entrepreneurial personalities in that way (maybe because such personalities are otherwise under-represented in Tax).

I think Tax does tend to be a little more predictable in terms of overall hours, like most advisory practices, but that's tempered by the fact that it's still a law firm, and "predictable" only extends to matters you already work on. You may still get a call at 3pm on Friday from a partner who needs you to work on something over the weekend for his client. You do tend to travel less than some practices, so that's a plus, but maybe M&A is basically the same.


I disagree. I think a lot of tax people don't comprehend the kind of hours corporate people put in.

Doing tax in biglaw is fundamentally different from corporate in many ways, but one of the most important ways is that you are only on a small part of the deal. A corporate associate will spend all of his or her time on one to two deals while you'll be juggling small pieces of 8-10. Because you're a specialist, you won't get sucked into the insanity of a deal unless there are specific tax issues involved, whereas a corporate associate is along for the whole ride.

What this means from a lifestyle perspective is that if you're swamped, it's because a bunch of things bubbled up at once. The likelihood of this occuring depends on how senior you are and on other factors.

In addition, tax people are often expected to do more CLE, non billable work. This can be annoying, but is somewhat avoidable and usually not as time sensitive.

Tax definitely has a better lifestyle than something like M&A or capital markets, but I'd say it may be just as stressful simply because of (a) the number of things you have to juggle and stay on top of and (b) the amount of expertise and technical knowledge you are expected to have.

If you truly want a good lifestyle, don't work in biglaw.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of tax people don't comprehend the kind of hours corporate people put in.

Doing tax in biglaw is fundamentally different from corporate in many ways, but one of the most important ways is that you are only on a small part of the deal. A corporate associate will spend all of his or her time on one to two deals while you'll be juggling small pieces of 8-10. Because you're a specialist, you won't get sucked into the insanity of a deal unless there are specific tax issues involved, whereas a corporate associate is along for the whole ride.

What this means from a lifestyle perspective is that if you're swamped, it's because a bunch of things bubbled up at once. The likelihood of this occuring depends on how senior you are and on other factors.

In addition, tax people are often expected to do more CLE, non billable work. This can be annoying, but is somewhat avoidable and usually not as time sensitive.

Tax definitely has a better lifestyle than something like M&A or capital markets, but I'd say it may be just as stressful simply because of (a) the number of things you have to juggle and stay on top of and (b) the amount of expertise and technical knowledge you are expected to have.

If you truly want a good lifestyle, don't work in biglaw.


Figures that an M&A attorney would think that all we do is the little bit of work we do on their deals. (KIDDING, kidding... :D )

I don't minimize M&A hours. I certainly don't want some of those deal-closing round-the-clock hours. I would only point out that what "transactional" tax attorneys do is not just the tax consulting that is done on M&A deals where we are one of three dozen moving parts (when ATR, benefits, tax, insurance, and everyone else consults to review the deal that's actually being done by M&A people). It's fundamentally an advisory practice which -- at least for me -- very frequently does not involve our firm's deal lawyers.

There is a lot of CLE type stuff. A lot of tax people start their days with an hour or more of reading, just to stay on top of things. It's true that that's not the same as a client-imposed crunch, but to the extent it minimizes the amount of time you have, you get pressed on the other end.

But, yes, "If you truly want a good lifestyle, don't work in biglaw." On that, tax and M&A attorneys can agree.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I’m wondering if it is too late to try to switch into tax and if not, how I should go about looking.

I’m a 3L who has a biglaw job this fall in the firm’s M&A group. During 2L SA I tried a bunch of different corporate practice groups (M&A, finance, PE, cap markets) and ended up getting placed in the M&A group full time. I never even considered doing any tax work during the summer and don’t really know anyone in that group.

This past year, I’ve taken a couple of tax classes and really liked them. I’ve been doing a lot of research and it seems like for career prospects and firm lifestyle, tax isn’t a terrible place to be. I’d really like to try to do some tax work (transactional) at the firm, possibly even do it full time. Is this possible or am I pretty much stuck in M&A for the foreseeable future?


What firm? Do they have a tax group/how big is the tax group?


OP here:

I don't want to specify the firm so that I don't out myself. But it's a NYC office of a vault ranked firm with a tax practice.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I disagree. I think a lot of tax people don't comprehend the kind of hours corporate people put in.

Doing tax in biglaw is fundamentally different from corporate in many ways, but one of the most important ways is that you are only on a small part of the deal. A corporate associate will spend all of his or her time on one to two deals while you'll be juggling small pieces of 8-10. Because you're a specialist, you won't get sucked into the insanity of a deal unless there are specific tax issues involved, whereas a corporate associate is along for the whole ride.

What this means from a lifestyle perspective is that if you're swamped, it's because a bunch of things bubbled up at once. The likelihood of this occuring depends on how senior you are and on other factors.

In addition, tax people are often expected to do more CLE, non billable work. This can be annoying, but is somewhat avoidable and usually not as time sensitive.

Tax definitely has a better lifestyle than something like M&A or capital markets, but I'd say it may be just as stressful simply because of (a) the number of things you have to juggle and stay on top of and (b) the amount of expertise and technical knowledge you are expected to have.

If you truly want a good lifestyle, don't work in biglaw.


Figures that an M&A attorney would think that all we do is the little bit of work we do on their deals. (KIDDING, kidding... :D )

I don't minimize M&A hours. I certainly don't want some of those deal-closing round-the-clock hours. I would only point out that what "transactional" tax attorneys do is not just the tax consulting that is done on M&A deals where we are one of three dozen moving parts (when ATR, benefits, tax, insurance, and everyone else consults to review the deal that's actually being done by M&A people). It's fundamentally an advisory practice which -- at least for me -- very frequently does not involve our firm's deal lawyers.

There is a lot of CLE type stuff. A lot of tax people start their days with an hour or more of reading, just to stay on top of things. It's true that that's not the same as a client-imposed crunch, but to the extent it minimizes the amount of time you have, you get pressed on the other end.

But, yes, "If you truly want a good lifestyle, don't work in biglaw." On that, tax and M&A attorneys can agree.


OP here:

I probably should have left out the lifestyle part. I don't expect tax to be significantly easier (hours or otherwise) than M&A, it just seems more interesting.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:35 pm

Is it true that people who like and are good at math would enjoy tax?

I'm a transactional associate thinking of switching to tax....

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is it true that people who like and are good at math would enjoy tax?

I'm a transactional associate thinking of switching to tax....


There isn't much mathematical skill needed, although you should be comfortable with basic math and economics. Good understanding of finance also helps if your firm does a lot of capital markets work.

More generally though, people who like math tend to like thinking abstractly and thinking through technical analysis. So in that sense it's a good fit.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Is it true that people who like and are good at math would enjoy tax?

I'm a transactional associate thinking of switching to tax....


It's typically more logical reasoning than math, although there's some math, especially at the more senior level (in my experience). You have to enjoy spending a lot of time researching what are, in my opinion, incredibly nuanced and detailed issues.

I'm a current tax associate and would never even consider switching to corporate/transactional. It seems absolutely awful by comparison.

Yeah, re: above more economics/reasoning than pure math. Lots of former math majors tend to be in it though.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a current tax associate and would never even consider switching to corporate/transactional. It seems absolutely awful by comparison.


+1

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:22 pm

Op here:

If this is something I'm interested in, any advice on how to make a switch. I don't think I can really just approach a tax partner and ask for work if I'm in another group, can I?

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:47 am

Can you quietly find out whether anyone from your summer class was hired into tax? Tax groups are small, so if that's the case, your chances go down. If that's not the case, I personally don't think it's unreasonable to reach out to someone you trust in the tax group and say hey, I'm really enjoying these classes, do you think there's any capacity for me to start in tax this fall?

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:08 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is it true that people who like and are good at math would enjoy tax?

I'm a transactional associate thinking of switching to tax....


It's typically more logical reasoning than math, although there's some math, especially at the more senior level (in my experience). You have to enjoy spending a lot of time researching what are, in my opinion, incredibly nuanced and detailed issues.

I'm a current tax associate and would never even consider switching to corporate/transactional. It seems absolutely awful by comparison.

Yeah, re: above more economics/reasoning than pure math. Lots of former math majors tend to be in it though.


Yah, I just want to make sure I would like it before switching. I'm currently doing transactional work and it is awful...I really hate every aspect of it (the work, the hours, the work). I don't find transactional work interesting substantively and a lot of the work seems very grunt work (like revising certain terms in a 300 page document, etc.; arguing over the meaning of certain clauses, etc.). I also hate just how much paper pushing it entails - literally like hundreds of documents being pushed around for every deal and you are responsible for tracking them and revising or drafting them. Is tax like this at all or is it more so focused on certain questions and less paper pushing?

I took a few tax classes in law school (federal income tax plus a few tax seminars) since I was considering going into tax. I also have a finance/math/economics undergrad degree. But I ended up in a transactional practice....

Would the NYU tax llm be worth it for someone like me who has a few years of biglaw experience? I haven't taken partnership, corporate or international tax.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 02, 2017 2:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:Is it true that people who like and are good at math would enjoy tax?

I'm a transactional associate thinking of switching to tax....


Not necessarily, but there's probably a better chance than of liking regular corporate work. Primarily because corporate work is generally awful. FWIW, the most common undergrads i've seen among tax lawyers are philosophy, math, and econ.

Anonymous User wrote:Op here:

If this is something I'm interested in, any advice on how to make a switch. I don't think I can really just approach a tax partner and ask for work if I'm in another group, can I?


First step is just to look at your firm's career openings page, if it has one, and inquire with the recruiter ("for a friend") if not. If there's an opening, you may as well ask. Beyond that, I think what others have suggested (making discreet inquiries with your current firm) is reasonable, but I'd be really careful in measuring the risk/reward. If your firm's tax group is tiny and already highly leveraged (over 1.5:1 is pretty high for tax), then you have a non-zero but trivial chance of making an internal switch. In that case, you might try your tax prof(s), who hopefully have a good impression of you. Next stop could be friends who did biglaw tax SAs. So on and so forth. After you exhaust avenues for discreet inquiries outside your firm, you'd need to weigh the risk of cold calling other firms and asking your own firm. you should assume in either case that your M&A partners will find out and that they'll consider you as first on the chopping block in the event heads need to roll unless you wind up being a 'superstar.'

If you firm has a very large tax group, then maybe there's a better chance and it's worth asking the firm's tax SAs ("did the tax group seem underwater/understaffed?") first and then taking things from there. again, though, i'd assume that asking anybody at your firm will ultimately lead to the M&A partners getting wind of the request.

all of the above is assuming you have at least good grades in your tax classes. if not, i think it'll be very difficult to switch - tax lawyers often have (perhaps unfairly) low opinions of deal lawyers' intelligence, particularly associates'.

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is it true that people who like and are good at math would enjoy tax?

I'm a transactional associate thinking of switching to tax....


There isn't much mathematical skill needed, although you should be comfortable with basic math and economics. Good understanding of finance also helps if your firm does a lot of capital markets work.

More generally though, people who like math tend to like thinking abstractly and thinking through technical analysis. So in that sense it's a good fit.


I agree that there's not really any advanced math, but certain areas would be very rough if you don't have some facility with numerical reasoning (capital markets work and partnership tax in particular; corporate and international not so much).

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Is it true that people who like and are good at math would enjoy tax?

I'm a transactional associate thinking of switching to tax....


It's typically more logical reasoning than math, although there's some math, especially at the more senior level (in my experience). You have to enjoy spending a lot of time researching what are, in my opinion, incredibly nuanced and detailed issues.

I'm a current tax associate and would never even consider switching to corporate/transactional. It seems absolutely awful by comparison.

Yeah, re: above more economics/reasoning than pure math. Lots of former math majors tend to be in it though.


Yah, I just want to make sure I would like it before switching. I'm currently doing transactional work and it is awful...I really hate every aspect of it (the work, the hours, the work). I don't find transactional work interesting substantively and a lot of the work seems very grunt work (like revising certain terms in a 300 page document, etc.; arguing over the meaning of certain clauses, etc.). I also hate just how much paper pushing it entails - literally like hundreds of documents being pushed around for every deal and you are responsible for tracking them and revising or drafting them. Is tax like this at all or is it more so focused on certain questions and less paper pushing?

I took a few tax classes in law school (federal income tax plus a few tax seminars) since I was considering going into tax. I also have a finance/math/economics undergrad degree. But I ended up in a transactional practice....

Would the NYU tax llm be worth it for someone like me who has a few years of biglaw experience? I haven't taken partnership, corporate or international tax.


I'm not sure your odds are great either way, but I think they'd be much better with the LLM because (1) nobody is going to hire you if you haven't taken at least two of those three classes, and (2) it might (depending on grades) help show aptitude/interest that you would otherwise have a hard time selling. The LLM would be pretty sickly expensive though if you're a few years in - even if you minimize time off to the academic year, a 4th year would be giving up about $195k in salary + 50k bonus + $60k tuition/COL = over $300k at a conservative estimate and probably ~$150k after-tax dollars. Although you might be able to deduct the LLM tuition, depending on how aggressive you want to be.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Yah, I just want to make sure I would like it before switching. I'm currently doing transactional work and it is awful...I really hate every aspect of it (the work, the hours, the work). I don't find transactional work interesting substantively and a lot of the work seems very grunt work (like revising certain terms in a 300 page document, etc.; arguing over the meaning of certain clauses, etc.). I also hate just how much paper pushing it entails - literally like hundreds of documents being pushed around for every deal and you are responsible for tracking them and revising or drafting them. Is tax like this at all or is it more so focused on certain questions and less paper pushing?

I took a few tax classes in law school (federal income tax plus a few tax seminars) since I was considering going into tax. I also have a finance/math/economics undergrad degree. But I ended up in a transactional practice....

Would the NYU tax llm be worth it for someone like me who has a few years of biglaw experience? I haven't taken partnership, corporate or international tax.


I'm not sure your odds are great either way, but I think they'd be much better with the LLM because (1) nobody is going to hire you if you haven't taken at least two of those three classes, and (2) it might (depending on grades) help show aptitude/interest that you would otherwise have a hard time selling. The LLM would be pretty sickly expensive though if you're a few years in - even if you minimize time off to the academic year, a 4th year would be giving up about $195k in salary + 50k bonus + $60k tuition/COL = over $300k at a conservative estimate and probably ~$150k after-tax dollars. Although you might be able to deduct the LLM tuition, depending on how aggressive you want to be.


Why would you say that my odds aren't great either way? Is it because it's tough switching practice areas in general or is it because it's tough switching to tax in particular?

What about for Big 4? To be fair, I would rather eventually exit law and become more of a tax accountant in-house. If that were my goal, would it make sense to do the LLM?

At this point, I don't see myself doing transactional work in the long term (I cannot substantively stand the material), so it's not an issue if I give up the money in biglaw to pursue the LLM. Because aside from switching, I'd probably just leave the practice of law entirely.

Also, fwiw, I applied and got into the NYU/GULC Tax LLM programs. This is less of a hypothetical question and more of a question of whether I should pull the trigger. Thanks in advance.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby nealric » Thu Mar 02, 2017 3:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Yah, I just want to make sure I would like it before switching. I'm currently doing transactional work and it is awful...I really hate every aspect of it (the work, the hours, the work). I don't find transactional work interesting substantively and a lot of the work seems very grunt work (like revising certain terms in a 300 page document, etc.; arguing over the meaning of certain clauses, etc.). I also hate just how much paper pushing it entails - literally like hundreds of documents being pushed around for every deal and you are responsible for tracking them and revising or drafting them. Is tax like this at all or is it more so focused on certain questions and less paper pushing?

I took a few tax classes in law school (federal income tax plus a few tax seminars) since I was considering going into tax. I also have a finance/math/economics undergrad degree. But I ended up in a transactional practice....

Would the NYU tax llm be worth it for someone like me who has a few years of biglaw experience? I haven't taken partnership, corporate or international tax.


I'm not sure your odds are great either way, but I think they'd be much better with the LLM because (1) nobody is going to hire you if you haven't taken at least two of those three classes, and (2) it might (depending on grades) help show aptitude/interest that you would otherwise have a hard time selling. The LLM would be pretty sickly expensive though if you're a few years in - even if you minimize time off to the academic year, a 4th year would be giving up about $195k in salary + 50k bonus + $60k tuition/COL = over $300k at a conservative estimate and probably ~$150k after-tax dollars. Although you might be able to deduct the LLM tuition, depending on how aggressive you want to be.


Why would you say that my odds aren't great either way? Is it because it's tough switching practice areas in general or is it because it's tough switching to tax in particular?

What about for Big 4? To be fair, I would rather eventually exit law and become more of a tax accountant in-house. If that were my goal, would it make sense to do the LLM?

At this point, I don't see myself doing transactional work in the long term (I cannot substantively stand the material), so it's not an issue if I give up the money in biglaw to pursue the LLM. Because aside from switching, I'd probably just leave the practice of law entirely.

Also, fwiw, I applied and got into the NYU/GULC Tax LLM programs. This is less of a hypothetical question and more of a question of whether I should pull the trigger. Thanks in advance.



Big 4 likely means big paycut. In-house tax accounting is going to want you do a CPA, which likely involves a lot of coursework (not an LLM) unless you were already an accounting undergrad.

Some firms will pay for you do an LLM (my old firm did, and paid for a corporate associate who switched into tax).

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:21 pm

nealric wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Yah, I just want to make sure I would like it before switching. I'm currently doing transactional work and it is awful...I really hate every aspect of it (the work, the hours, the work). I don't find transactional work interesting substantively and a lot of the work seems very grunt work (like revising certain terms in a 300 page document, etc.; arguing over the meaning of certain clauses, etc.). I also hate just how much paper pushing it entails - literally like hundreds of documents being pushed around for every deal and you are responsible for tracking them and revising or drafting them. Is tax like this at all or is it more so focused on certain questions and less paper pushing?

I took a few tax classes in law school (federal income tax plus a few tax seminars) since I was considering going into tax. I also have a finance/math/economics undergrad degree. But I ended up in a transactional practice....

Would the NYU tax llm be worth it for someone like me who has a few years of biglaw experience? I haven't taken partnership, corporate or international tax.


I'm not sure your odds are great either way, but I think they'd be much better with the LLM because (1) nobody is going to hire you if you haven't taken at least two of those three classes, and (2) it might (depending on grades) help show aptitude/interest that you would otherwise have a hard time selling. The LLM would be pretty sickly expensive though if you're a few years in - even if you minimize time off to the academic year, a 4th year would be giving up about $195k in salary + 50k bonus + $60k tuition/COL = over $300k at a conservative estimate and probably ~$150k after-tax dollars. Although you might be able to deduct the LLM tuition, depending on how aggressive you want to be.


Why would you say that my odds aren't great either way? Is it because it's tough switching practice areas in general or is it because it's tough switching to tax in particular?

What about for Big 4? To be fair, I would rather eventually exit law and become more of a tax accountant in-house. If that were my goal, would it make sense to do the LLM?

At this point, I don't see myself doing transactional work in the long term (I cannot substantively stand the material), so it's not an issue if I give up the money in biglaw to pursue the LLM. Because aside from switching, I'd probably just leave the practice of law entirely.

Also, fwiw, I applied and got into the NYU/GULC Tax LLM programs. This is less of a hypothetical question and more of a question of whether I should pull the trigger. Thanks in advance.



Big 4 likely means big paycut. In-house tax accounting is going to want you do a CPA, which likely involves a lot of coursework (not an LLM) unless you were already an accounting undergrad.

Some firms will pay for you do an LLM (my old firm did, and paid for a corporate associate who switched into tax).


Thanks. I thought big4 starting pay is now 150k with an LLM? At least in NYC....my understanding is that they have slightly better billable hour requirements as well (like 1800 or so). My firm's billable req is 2100 and I have billed in the 2000-2300 range most years.

I don't have an accounting undergrad but I took some econ/finance courses that would probably overlap with the CPA requirements. Of course, it'd be a big pain in the ass to do all of the CPA requirements.

Not sure my firm would do that for me...I am also already a midlevel in transactional practice so not sure how tough it'd be to switch practice groups right now without having taken partnership/international/corporate tax law.

Anyway, I realize it's a good chunk of change, but I hate what I am doing now. Should I try to get recruiters to lateral me to tax at other firms? If that doesn't work, worth it to do the LLM? At this point, I'd rather leave the law than do what I am doing now.

Reason why I thought of tax is because my undergrad major involved doing problem solving and problem sets, and that's more along the lines of what I want to do in the long-term. I want to do more quantitative work. If tax practice isn't like this at all, feel free to clarify.

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Posts: 314082
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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:
nealric wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Yah, I just want to make sure I would like it before switching. I'm currently doing transactional work and it is awful...I really hate every aspect of it (the work, the hours, the work). I don't find transactional work interesting substantively and a lot of the work seems very grunt work (like revising certain terms in a 300 page document, etc.; arguing over the meaning of certain clauses, etc.). I also hate just how much paper pushing it entails - literally like hundreds of documents being pushed around for every deal and you are responsible for tracking them and revising or drafting them. Is tax like this at all or is it more so focused on certain questions and less paper pushing?

I took a few tax classes in law school (federal income tax plus a few tax seminars) since I was considering going into tax. I also have a finance/math/economics undergrad degree. But I ended up in a transactional practice....

Would the NYU tax llm be worth it for someone like me who has a few years of biglaw experience? I haven't taken partnership, corporate or international tax.


I'm not sure your odds are great either way, but I think they'd be much better with the LLM because (1) nobody is going to hire you if you haven't taken at least two of those three classes, and (2) it might (depending on grades) help show aptitude/interest that you would otherwise have a hard time selling. The LLM would be pretty sickly expensive though if you're a few years in - even if you minimize time off to the academic year, a 4th year would be giving up about $195k in salary + 50k bonus + $60k tuition/COL = over $300k at a conservative estimate and probably ~$150k after-tax dollars. Although you might be able to deduct the LLM tuition, depending on how aggressive you want to be.


Why would you say that my odds aren't great either way? Is it because it's tough switching practice areas in general or is it because it's tough switching to tax in particular?

What about for Big 4? To be fair, I would rather eventually exit law and become more of a tax accountant in-house. If that were my goal, would it make sense to do the LLM?

At this point, I don't see myself doing transactional work in the long term (I cannot substantively stand the material), so it's not an issue if I give up the money in biglaw to pursue the LLM. Because aside from switching, I'd probably just leave the practice of law entirely.

Also, fwiw, I applied and got into the NYU/GULC Tax LLM programs. This is less of a hypothetical question and more of a question of whether I should pull the trigger. Thanks in advance.



Big 4 likely means big paycut. In-house tax accounting is going to want you do a CPA, which likely involves a lot of coursework (not an LLM) unless you were already an accounting undergrad.

Some firms will pay for you do an LLM (my old firm did, and paid for a corporate associate who switched into tax).


Thanks. I thought big4 starting pay is now 150k with an LLM? At least in NYC....my understanding is that they have slightly better billable hour requirements as well (like 1800 or so). My firm's billable req is 2100 and I have billed in the 2000-2300 range most years.

I don't have an accounting undergrad but I took some econ/finance courses that would probably overlap with the CPA requirements. Of course, it'd be a big pain in the ass to do all of the CPA requirements.

Not sure my firm would do that for me...I am also already a midlevel in transactional practice so not sure how tough it'd be to switch practice groups right now without having taken partnership/international/corporate tax law.

Anyway, I realize it's a good chunk of change, but I hate what I am doing now. Should I try to get recruiters to lateral me to tax at other firms? If that doesn't work, worth it to do the LLM? At this point, I'd rather leave the law than do what I am doing now.

Reason why I thought of tax is because my undergrad major involved doing problem solving and problem sets, and that's more along the lines of what I want to do in the long-term. I want to do more quantitative work. If tax practice isn't like this at all, feel free to clarify.


I wouldn't say tax is a good place to go if you want to do quantitative work. At its core its still law, so still reading/writing and not number crunching. But as said above, being comfortable with numbers is important (and not scared of them like many law types).

As for your other questions, I can speak on them based on my experience as a junior in biglaw tax (not NYC). First of all, biglaw is biglaw, and you'll be buried in paperwork no matter where you go. But tax is different because you're not the "quarterback" of the deal. You aren't going to be responsible for collecting and organizing documents and keeping track of things. You'll only be responsible for the tax documents, which will usually be a small part of the deal.

Second, your drafting/turning comments will only be related to the tax portion of the documents. This is a good thing for me because I share your perspective that "drafting" language in agreements and prospectuses is completely dull, meaningless, and unfulfilling. I could not care less about who "wins" on the stupid indemnity or notification clause. This is apparently the highlight of corporate work, but is an unremarkable part of being a tax associate. The good news is that you only have to worry about two pages in a 200 page document. Most of your time will be spent thinking through whatever tax issues there are and doing some kind analysis.

If you really want to do quantitative work and don't mind long hours, you should consider ibanking.

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nealric

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby nealric » Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
nealric wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Yah, I just want to make sure I would like it before switching. I'm currently doing transactional work and it is awful...I really hate every aspect of it (the work, the hours, the work). I don't find transactional work interesting substantively and a lot of the work seems very grunt work (like revising certain terms in a 300 page document, etc.; arguing over the meaning of certain clauses, etc.). I also hate just how much paper pushing it entails - literally like hundreds of documents being pushed around for every deal and you are responsible for tracking them and revising or drafting them. Is tax like this at all or is it more so focused on certain questions and less paper pushing?

I took a few tax classes in law school (federal income tax plus a few tax seminars) since I was considering going into tax. I also have a finance/math/economics undergrad degree. But I ended up in a transactional practice....

Would the NYU tax llm be worth it for someone like me who has a few years of biglaw experience? I haven't taken partnership, corporate or international tax.


I'm not sure your odds are great either way, but I think they'd be much better with the LLM because (1) nobody is going to hire you if you haven't taken at least two of those three classes, and (2) it might (depending on grades) help show aptitude/interest that you would otherwise have a hard time selling. The LLM would be pretty sickly expensive though if you're a few years in - even if you minimize time off to the academic year, a 4th year would be giving up about $195k in salary + 50k bonus + $60k tuition/COL = over $300k at a conservative estimate and probably ~$150k after-tax dollars. Although you might be able to deduct the LLM tuition, depending on how aggressive you want to be.


Why would you say that my odds aren't great either way? Is it because it's tough switching practice areas in general or is it because it's tough switching to tax in particular?

What about for Big 4? To be fair, I would rather eventually exit law and become more of a tax accountant in-house. If that were my goal, would it make sense to do the LLM?

At this point, I don't see myself doing transactional work in the long term (I cannot substantively stand the material), so it's not an issue if I give up the money in biglaw to pursue the LLM. Because aside from switching, I'd probably just leave the practice of law entirely.

Also, fwiw, I applied and got into the NYU/GULC Tax LLM programs. This is less of a hypothetical question and more of a question of whether I should pull the trigger. Thanks in advance.



Big 4 likely means big paycut. In-house tax accounting is going to want you do a CPA, which likely involves a lot of coursework (not an LLM) unless you were already an accounting undergrad.

Some firms will pay for you do an LLM (my old firm did, and paid for a corporate associate who switched into tax).


Thanks. I thought big4 starting pay is now 150k with an LLM? At least in NYC....my understanding is that they have slightly better billable hour requirements as well (like 1800 or so). My firm's billable req is 2100 and I have billed in the 2000-2300 range most years.

I don't have an accounting undergrad but I took some econ/finance courses that would probably overlap with the CPA requirements. Of course, it'd be a big pain in the ass to do all of the CPA requirements.

Not sure my firm would do that for me...I am also already a midlevel in transactional practice so not sure how tough it'd be to switch practice groups right now without having taken partnership/international/corporate tax law.

Anyway, I realize it's a good chunk of change, but I hate what I am doing now. Should I try to get recruiters to lateral me to tax at other firms? If that doesn't work, worth it to do the LLM? At this point, I'd rather leave the law than do what I am doing now.

Reason why I thought of tax is because my undergrad major involved doing problem solving and problem sets, and that's more along the lines of what I want to do in the long-term. I want to do more quantitative work. If tax practice isn't like this at all, feel free to clarify.


I wouldn't say tax is a good place to go if you want to do quantitative work. At its core its still law, so still reading/writing and not number crunching. But as said above, being comfortable with numbers is important (and not scared of them like many law types).

As for your other questions, I can speak on them based on my experience as a junior in biglaw tax (not NYC). First of all, biglaw is biglaw, and you'll be buried in paperwork no matter where you go. But tax is different because you're not the "quarterback" of the deal. You aren't going to be responsible for collecting and organizing documents and keeping track of things. You'll only be responsible for the tax documents, which will usually be a small part of the deal.

Second, your drafting/turning comments will only be related to the tax portion of the documents. This is a good thing for me because I share your perspective that "drafting" language in agreements and prospectuses is completely dull, meaningless, and unfulfilling. I could not care less about who "wins" on the stupid indemnity or notification clause. This is apparently the highlight of corporate work, but is an unremarkable part of being a tax associate. The good news is that you only have to worry about two pages in a 200 page document. Most of your time will be spent thinking through whatever tax issues there are and doing some kind analysis.

If you really want to do quantitative work and don't mind long hours, you should consider ibanking.


Yeah, second on the ibanking route. You can get into a bit more quantitative work if you do in-house tax (most companies do internal modeling and the like), but most people are still fundamentally lawyers.

You may have luck just applying to firms in tax. Don't start with a recruiter- start with law school friends and see if they have any contacts in tax. You'd probably be treated as a first-year for seniority purposes, but I could see that as a good thing.

RE pay: I Big4 is a bit less consistent than Biglaw, but 150k is probably the top of the potential range. It will depend a lot on which office you get an offer from. You also aren't likely to see the same quick salary increases as you would at a NY market-paying firm. It's also even harder to make partner at Big4.

Anonymous User
Posts: 314082
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:43 pm

nealric wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
nealric wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Yah, I just want to make sure I would like it before switching. I'm currently doing transactional work and it is awful...I really hate every aspect of it (the work, the hours, the work). I don't find transactional work interesting substantively and a lot of the work seems very grunt work (like revising certain terms in a 300 page document, etc.; arguing over the meaning of certain clauses, etc.). I also hate just how much paper pushing it entails - literally like hundreds of documents being pushed around for every deal and you are responsible for tracking them and revising or drafting them. Is tax like this at all or is it more so focused on certain questions and less paper pushing?

I took a few tax classes in law school (federal income tax plus a few tax seminars) since I was considering going into tax. I also have a finance/math/economics undergrad degree. But I ended up in a transactional practice....

Would the NYU tax llm be worth it for someone like me who has a few years of biglaw experience? I haven't taken partnership, corporate or international tax.


I'm not sure your odds are great either way, but I think they'd be much better with the LLM because (1) nobody is going to hire you if you haven't taken at least two of those three classes, and (2) it might (depending on grades) help show aptitude/interest that you would otherwise have a hard time selling. The LLM would be pretty sickly expensive though if you're a few years in - even if you minimize time off to the academic year, a 4th year would be giving up about $195k in salary + 50k bonus + $60k tuition/COL = over $300k at a conservative estimate and probably ~$150k after-tax dollars. Although you might be able to deduct the LLM tuition, depending on how aggressive you want to be.


Why would you say that my odds aren't great either way? Is it because it's tough switching practice areas in general or is it because it's tough switching to tax in particular?

What about for Big 4? To be fair, I would rather eventually exit law and become more of a tax accountant in-house. If that were my goal, would it make sense to do the LLM?

At this point, I don't see myself doing transactional work in the long term (I cannot substantively stand the material), so it's not an issue if I give up the money in biglaw to pursue the LLM. Because aside from switching, I'd probably just leave the practice of law entirely.

Also, fwiw, I applied and got into the NYU/GULC Tax LLM programs. This is less of a hypothetical question and more of a question of whether I should pull the trigger. Thanks in advance.



Big 4 likely means big paycut. In-house tax accounting is going to want you do a CPA, which likely involves a lot of coursework (not an LLM) unless you were already an accounting undergrad.

Some firms will pay for you do an LLM (my old firm did, and paid for a corporate associate who switched into tax).


Thanks. I thought big4 starting pay is now 150k with an LLM? At least in NYC....my understanding is that they have slightly better billable hour requirements as well (like 1800 or so). My firm's billable req is 2100 and I have billed in the 2000-2300 range most years.

I don't have an accounting undergrad but I took some econ/finance courses that would probably overlap with the CPA requirements. Of course, it'd be a big pain in the ass to do all of the CPA requirements.

Not sure my firm would do that for me...I am also already a midlevel in transactional practice so not sure how tough it'd be to switch practice groups right now without having taken partnership/international/corporate tax law.

Anyway, I realize it's a good chunk of change, but I hate what I am doing now. Should I try to get recruiters to lateral me to tax at other firms? If that doesn't work, worth it to do the LLM? At this point, I'd rather leave the law than do what I am doing now.

Reason why I thought of tax is because my undergrad major involved doing problem solving and problem sets, and that's more along the lines of what I want to do in the long-term. I want to do more quantitative work. If tax practice isn't like this at all, feel free to clarify.


I wouldn't say tax is a good place to go if you want to do quantitative work. At its core its still law, so still reading/writing and not number crunching. But as said above, being comfortable with numbers is important (and not scared of them like many law types).

As for your other questions, I can speak on them based on my experience as a junior in biglaw tax (not NYC). First of all, biglaw is biglaw, and you'll be buried in paperwork no matter where you go. But tax is different because you're not the "quarterback" of the deal. You aren't going to be responsible for collecting and organizing documents and keeping track of things. You'll only be responsible for the tax documents, which will usually be a small part of the deal.

Second, your drafting/turning comments will only be related to the tax portion of the documents. This is a good thing for me because I share your perspective that "drafting" language in agreements and prospectuses is completely dull, meaningless, and unfulfilling. I could not care less about who "wins" on the stupid indemnity or notification clause. This is apparently the highlight of corporate work, but is an unremarkable part of being a tax associate. The good news is that you only have to worry about two pages in a 200 page document. Most of your time will be spent thinking through whatever tax issues there are and doing some kind analysis.

If you really want to do quantitative work and don't mind long hours, you should consider ibanking.


Yeah, second on the ibanking route. You can get into a bit more quantitative work if you do in-house tax (most companies do internal modeling and the like), but most people are still fundamentally lawyers.

You may have luck just applying to firms in tax. Don't start with a recruiter- start with law school friends and see if they have any contacts in tax. You'd probably be treated as a first-year for seniority purposes, but I could see that as a good thing.

RE pay: I Big4 is a bit less consistent than Biglaw, but 150k is probably the top of the potential range. It will depend a lot on which office you get an offer from. You also aren't likely to see the same quick salary increases as you would at a NY market-paying firm. It's also even harder to make partner at Big4.


Thanks, both.

Don't investments bankers have even worse hours than biglawyers? Not sure I want to do that now that I'm in my 30s...lol. Not sure I have what it takes to grind like i-bankers do now that I'm older. Big 4 hours don't seem that bad to me though - 1800 billable seems more manageable than 2100+, at least.

And yes, substantively, tax seems (given I haven't practiced in it) much more interesting than transactional law. What I cannot stand is the amount of tedious paper-pushing in transactional law. A lot of is just pure tedium and detail orientedness and less so analysis. I also loathe doing checklists and constantly revising "issues lists" and having to review and revise thousands of pages for one deal.

I'll ask my friends about tax openings. If that doesn't pan out, is it stupid to do the tax LLM?

I don't really want to make partner at the big 4 or biglaw - just want to go in house or work for the IRS.

taxattorney1314

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby taxattorney1314 » Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:42 pm

I was previously a biglaw transactional lawyer that did the tax LLM and switched to tax at biglaw. I can tell you all about the process and the tax LLM and that it was totally worth it. Feel free to PM me.

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Re: 3L Thinking of Switching into Tax

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:11 pm

taxattorney1314 wrote:I was previously a biglaw transactional lawyer that did the tax LLM and switched to tax at biglaw. I can tell you all about the process and the tax LLM and that it was totally worth it. Feel free to PM me.


I am a junior associate that was recently stealth-offed.

I am considering doing an LLM (my firing is the impetus, but I have other reasons as well)

Is this a legitimate route to take? I will PM you as well.



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