Choosing tax, big mistake?

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Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:09 pm

So, I am a 2L with a few weeks left in my program at a big firm in NYC. I've been really enjoying my tax assignments and have got along well with everyone in the group. If I had to choose my practice area today, I would select tax. That said, several corporate associates who I have become pretty close to during the program are telling me that I would do myself a disservice by choosing tax. They often repeat that I'll be "too specialize", my exit options will suck and that I'll be the "bitch" of every corporate associate. Now I am wondering whether I should be concerned with my exit options and whether there are other negatives to this practice area that I am unaware of... Thoughts?

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby heythatslife » Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:24 pm

lol they just be envious of that tax lifestyle don't listen to em. if you find that tax clicks with you, go for it

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:28 pm

im straight loling at some capital markets diligence monkey loser calling someone else a bitch

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby foregetaboutdre » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:54 pm

total bs... it really doesn't merit anything other than that.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby jkpolk » Thu Jun 22, 2017 11:58 pm

every lawyer is a bitch

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby SmokeytheBear » Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:36 am

There is some merit to what they said. As specialists,
Tax counsel are generally brought in on deals to commment on the discrete tax aspects of the deal. And that's what they do--comment. Certainly in some transactions in finance, tax considerations drive the structure of the deal, but that's it--the finance guys still run the deal. So as a tax person you don't really often get involved in a deal soup to nuts--whether it's an M+A transaction or project finance or a restructuring. You just comment on the tax aspect. It is limiting compared to a corporate associate who does M+A and gets familiar with the mechanics of a purchase agreement and the inner workings of a company or industry.

As for exit opportunities, I can't speak to that. But it seems intuitive that your exit options would be more limited because your knowledge base is so specialized.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:38 am

jkpolk wrote:every lawyer is a bitch


this is the right answer. but in the hierarchy of bitches, corporate associates are much closer to the very bottom for a few reasons:

(1) they get stuck with all the due diligence
(2) they get stuck with 90% of the fire drills
(3) they are the ones getting yelled at by clients
(4) a competent tax associate could learn a corporate attorney's job in <2 years. the converse is not remotely true, largely because the entire value of corporate lawyers is (1) knowing the deal process, (2) knowing "market" terms (not even for all the docs - just part of it), and (3) knowing which specialists to ask questions to. there is virtually no substantive law compared to an area like tax. in other words, it's significantly easier to make a switch in your junior/senior years over to corporate than over to tax.
(5) there is a reason that most competent tax lawyers either do not trust or are very selective in trusting corporate lawyers to get deal economics right. particularly in LLC/partnership contexts, tax lawyers often understand much more than corporate folks.
(6) contrary to what corporate associates tell you, tax lawyers drive structure in the overwhelming majority of deals. why? because taxes are money, and people don't like leaving money on the table. tax planning has created entire cottage industries - private REITs, UPREITs, UP-Cs, tons of derivatives, etc.
(7) corporate lawyers tend do the same types of deals over and over. tax lawyers generally do a huge array of matters - capital markets, M&A, REIT, litigation awards, tax equity, bankruptcy, operational matters, etc.
(8) corporate work is cyclical in nature. tax work is both cyclical and countercyclical, because bad economies create tax planning opportunities.

-former corporate associate that switched to tax

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby SmokeytheBear » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:
jkpolk wrote:every lawyer is a bitch


this is the right answer. but in the hierarchy of bitches, corporate associates are much closer to the very bottom for a few reasons:

(1) they get stuck with all the due diligence
(2) they get stuck with 90% of the fire drills
(3) they are the ones getting yelled at by clients
(4) a competent tax associate could learn a corporate attorney's job in <2 years. the converse is not remotely true, largely because the entire value of corporate lawyers is (1) knowing the deal process, (2) knowing "market" terms (not even for all the docs - just part of it), and (3) knowing which specialists to ask questions to. there is virtually no substantive law compared to an area like tax. in other words, it's significantly easier to make a switch in your junior/senior years over to corporate than over to tax.
(5) there is a reason that most competent tax lawyers either do not trust or are very selective in trusting corporate lawyers to get deal economics right. particularly in LLC/partnership contexts, tax lawyers often understand much more than corporate folks.
(6) contrary to what corporate associates tell you, tax lawyers drive structure in the overwhelming majority of deals. why? because taxes are money, and people don't like leaving money on the table. tax planning has created entire cottage industries - private REITs, UPREITs, UP-Cs, tons of derivatives, etc.
(7) corporate lawyers tend do the same types of deals over and over. tax lawyers generally do a huge array of matters - capital markets, M&A, REIT, litigation awards, tax equity, bankruptcy, operational matters, etc.
(8) corporate work is cyclical in nature. tax work is both cyclical and countercyclical, because bad economies create tax planning opportunities.

-former corporate associate that switched to tax


All mostly true. But I think you kind of missed the spirit of what the supposed corporate juniors were saying, which is that tax counsel is just the help on a deal.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:40 am

SmokeytheBear wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
jkpolk wrote:every lawyer is a bitch


this is the right answer. but in the hierarchy of bitches, corporate associates are much closer to the very bottom for a few reasons:

(1) they get stuck with all the due diligence
(2) they get stuck with 90% of the fire drills
(3) they are the ones getting yelled at by clients
(4) a competent tax associate could learn a corporate attorney's job in <2 years. the converse is not remotely true, largely because the entire value of corporate lawyers is (1) knowing the deal process, (2) knowing "market" terms (not even for all the docs - just part of it), and (3) knowing which specialists to ask questions to. there is virtually no substantive law compared to an area like tax. in other words, it's significantly easier to make a switch in your junior/senior years over to corporate than over to tax.
(5) there is a reason that most competent tax lawyers either do not trust or are very selective in trusting corporate lawyers to get deal economics right. particularly in LLC/partnership contexts, tax lawyers often understand much more than corporate folks.
(6) contrary to what corporate associates tell you, tax lawyers drive structure in the overwhelming majority of deals. why? because taxes are money, and people don't like leaving money on the table. tax planning has created entire cottage industries - private REITs, UPREITs, UP-Cs, tons of derivatives, etc.
(7) corporate lawyers tend do the same types of deals over and over. tax lawyers generally do a huge array of matters - capital markets, M&A, REIT, litigation awards, tax equity, bankruptcy, operational matters, etc.
(8) corporate work is cyclical in nature. tax work is both cyclical and countercyclical, because bad economies create tax planning opportunities.

-former corporate associate that switched to tax


All mostly true. But I think you kind of missed the spirit of what the supposed corporate juniors were saying, which is that tax counsel is just the help on a deal.


.... as is every corporate associate.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby RaceJudicata » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:
SmokeytheBear wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
jkpolk wrote:every lawyer is a bitch


this is the right answer. but in the hierarchy of bitches, corporate associates are much closer to the very bottom for a few reasons:

(1) they get stuck with all the due diligence
(2) they get stuck with 90% of the fire drills
(3) they are the ones getting yelled at by clients
(4) a competent tax associate could learn a corporate attorney's job in <2 years. the converse is not remotely true, largely because the entire value of corporate lawyers is (1) knowing the deal process, (2) knowing "market" terms (not even for all the docs - just part of it), and (3) knowing which specialists to ask questions to. there is virtually no substantive law compared to an area like tax. in other words, it's significantly easier to make a switch in your junior/senior years over to corporate than over to tax.
(5) there is a reason that most competent tax lawyers either do not trust or are very selective in trusting corporate lawyers to get deal economics right. particularly in LLC/partnership contexts, tax lawyers often understand much more than corporate folks.
(6) contrary to what corporate associates tell you, tax lawyers drive structure in the overwhelming majority of deals. why? because taxes are money, and people don't like leaving money on the table. tax planning has created entire cottage industries - private REITs, UPREITs, UP-Cs, tons of derivatives, etc.
(7) corporate lawyers tend do the same types of deals over and over. tax lawyers generally do a huge array of matters - capital markets, M&A, REIT, litigation awards, tax equity, bankruptcy, operational matters, etc.
(8) corporate work is cyclical in nature. tax work is both cyclical and countercyclical, because bad economies create tax planning opportunities.

-former corporate associate that switched to tax


All mostly true. But I think you kind of missed the spirit of what the supposed corporate juniors were saying, which is that tax counsel is just the help on a deal.


.... as is every corporate associate.


Lol, yeah, this.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby TheSpecialist » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:05 am

Anonymous User wrote:
jkpolk wrote:every lawyer is a bitch


this is the right answer. but in the hierarchy of bitches, corporate associates are much closer to the very bottom for a few reasons:

(1) they get stuck with all the due diligence
(2) they get stuck with 90% of the fire drills
(3) they are the ones getting yelled at by clients
(4) a competent tax associate could learn a corporate attorney's job in <2 years. the converse is not remotely true, largely because the entire value of corporate lawyers is (1) knowing the deal process, (2) knowing "market" terms (not even for all the docs - just part of it), and (3) knowing which specialists to ask questions to. there is virtually no substantive law compared to an area like tax. in other words, it's significantly easier to make a switch in your junior/senior years over to corporate than over to tax.
(5) there is a reason that most competent tax lawyers either do not trust or are very selective in trusting corporate lawyers to get deal economics right. particularly in LLC/partnership contexts, tax lawyers often understand much more than corporate folks.
(6) contrary to what corporate associates tell you, tax lawyers drive structure in the overwhelming majority of deals. why? because taxes are money, and people don't like leaving money on the table. tax planning has created entire cottage industries - private REITs, UPREITs, UP-Cs, tons of derivatives, etc.
(7) corporate lawyers tend do the same types of deals over and over. tax lawyers generally do a huge array of matters - capital markets, M&A, REIT, litigation awards, tax equity, bankruptcy, operational matters, etc.
(8) corporate work is cyclical in nature. tax work is both cyclical and countercyclical, because bad economies create tax planning opportunities.

-former corporate associate that switched to tax


^This is right on the money. Tax guys drive every M&A deal, every fund formation, etc. Except they usually don't have to put up with the same all-nighters, mindless grunt work, fire drills etc. as they're doing a portion of every deal as opposed to one deal taking over your whole life. Exit options are also great. True, there are technically fewer options out there, but you're also competing with fewer people who have the same knowledge base that you will. Tax isn't some niche specialty either- it's something literally everyone and everything that makes money has to worry about.

As for being corporate's "bitch"- yes, you'll be given work by corporate teams and maybe they are at some firms, but in my experience, the first year corporate associates who think they can boss around more senior tax ppl get shot down real quick. Tax attorneys also seem to just generally be happier in my experience, though my only warning is they all seem to be a little quirky...At the end of the day though, If you like tax-go for it. I really don't think you'll regret it.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Mr. Peanutbutter » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:28 am

Yeah at least in my experience the tax people are respected experts whose advice is sought when needed and not really questioned. IDK if I'd call that being a "bitch"

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:33 am

Mlk&Ckies wrote:Yeah at least in my experience the tax people are respected experts whose advice is sought when needed and not really questioned. IDK if I'd call that being a "bitch"


What they're probably referring to is the fact that a corporate associate will send items to a tax associate for review and "chase" if necessary. This does not mean the tax associate answers to the corporate associate. You answer to the tax partner. It simply means that the corporate associate, being the "quarterback" of the deal (lol) is responsible for managing the different items that need to be reviewed, usually with some sort of "checklist" (i.e. bitchwork).

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby favabeansoup » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:13 am

Are we seriously arguing about who is less of a bitch between corps and tax? Newsflash, we are all bitches and seen as such by all of our clients.

Let's not delude ourselves. The finance people have already negotiated like 90% of the deal before it even gets to lawyers. We are all simply paper pushers at heart.

With that said, on the ladder of lawyer bitches, junior corp associates are definitely near, if not at, the bottom. (I'm a junior corp so I know this). Tax guys are definitely above us.

Senior corp associates/partners can actually bring value though, I would put them slightly above tax guys. Also add in that corp partners tend to actually bring in the business for the tax guys so at that level there is an inherent hierarchy.

I can't think of too many "rainmaker" tax partners at my firm. I know they exist, but there just aren't that many compared to corp side.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:05 pm

SmokeytheBear wrote:There is some merit to what they said. As specialists,
Tax counsel are generally brought in on deals to commment on the discrete tax aspects of the deal. And that's what they do--comment. Certainly in some transactions in finance, tax considerations drive the structure of the deal, but that's it--the finance guys still run the deal. So as a tax person you don't really often get involved in a deal soup to nuts--whether it's an M+A transaction or project finance or a restructuring. You just comment on the tax aspect. It is limiting compared to a corporate associate who does M+A and gets familiar with the mechanics of a purchase agreement and the inner workings of a company or industry.

As for exit opportunities, I can't speak to that. But it seems intuitive that your exit options would be more limited because your knowledge base is so specialized.


Current junior tax associate. I know more about the mechanics of the purchase agreement than the junior corp associates by a lot. I see a lot more deals, for one. I started marking up agreements day 1 whereas junior corp folks are often dealing more with diligence, checklists, certificates, etc. I regularly fix purchase price/indemnification adjustment problems on agreements and partnership distribution provisions drafted by a senior corp associate, and anything else that has to do with the economics. All of the below is spot on:

(4) a competent tax associate could learn a corporate attorney's job in <2 years. the converse is not remotely true, largely because the entire value of corporate lawyers is (1) knowing the deal process, (2) knowing "market" terms (not even for all the docs - just part of it), and (3) knowing which specialists to ask questions to. there is virtually no substantive law compared to an area like tax. in other words, it's significantly easier to make a switch in your junior/senior years over to corporate than over to tax.
(5) there is a reason that most competent tax lawyers either do not trust or are very selective in trusting corporate lawyers to get deal economics right. particularly in LLC/partnership contexts, tax lawyers often understand much more than corporate folks.
(6) contrary to what corporate associates tell you, tax lawyers drive structure in the overwhelming majority of deals. why? because taxes are money, and people don't like leaving money on the table. tax planning has created entire cottage industries - private REITs, UPREITs, UP-Cs, tons of derivatives, etc.
(7) corporate lawyers tend do the same types of deals over and over. tax lawyers generally do a huge array of matters - capital markets, M&A, REIT, litigation awards, tax equity, bankruptcy, operational matters, etc.

OP: If you like tax, do it. It's way more intellectually interesting. It changes all the time which keeps it interesting, but you also have the opportunity to obtain "mastery" of a valuable slice of knowledge. You do a larger variety of deals and a larger variety of tasks compared to corporate because, in addition to revising docs, you also have large research projects and get to write and think about stuff; it's not just churning. The lifestyle is much better. You can easily switch to corporate if you decide you don't like it.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby SmokeytheBear » Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:32 pm

Yeah, so OP, I think the take away is that your experience as a junior tax assoc as compared to a junior corp assoc will vary from firm to firm. Some of the experiences that have been described on here by tax people are not at all what tax people have done at either of the big law firms that I have worked at (on M&A, private placement, offerings, exchange offerings, restructurings, etc on size from a few million to a few billion).

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
SmokeytheBear wrote:There is some merit to what they said. As specialists,
Tax counsel are generally brought in on deals to commment on the discrete tax aspects of the deal. And that's what they do--comment. Certainly in some transactions in finance, tax considerations drive the structure of the deal, but that's it--the finance guys still run the deal. So as a tax person you don't really often get involved in a deal soup to nuts--whether it's an M+A transaction or project finance or a restructuring. You just comment on the tax aspect. It is limiting compared to a corporate associate who does M+A and gets familiar with the mechanics of a purchase agreement and the inner workings of a company or industry.

As for exit opportunities, I can't speak to that. But it seems intuitive that your exit options would be more limited because your knowledge base is so specialized.


Current junior tax associate. I know more about the mechanics of the purchase agreement than the junior corp associates by a lot. I see a lot more deals, for one. I started marking up agreements day 1 whereas junior corp folks are often dealing more with diligence, checklists, certificates, etc. I regularly fix purchase price/indemnification adjustment problems on agreements and partnership distribution provisions drafted by a senior corp associate, and anything else that has to do with the economics. All of the below is spot on:

(4) a competent tax associate could learn a corporate attorney's job in <2 years. the converse is not remotely true, largely because the entire value of corporate lawyers is (1) knowing the deal process, (2) knowing "market" terms (not even for all the docs - just part of it), and (3) knowing which specialists to ask questions to. there is virtually no substantive law compared to an area like tax. in other words, it's significantly easier to make a switch in your junior/senior years over to corporate than over to tax.
(5) there is a reason that most competent tax lawyers either do not trust or are very selective in trusting corporate lawyers to get deal economics right. particularly in LLC/partnership contexts, tax lawyers often understand much more than corporate folks.
(6) contrary to what corporate associates tell you, tax lawyers drive structure in the overwhelming majority of deals. why? because taxes are money, and people don't like leaving money on the table. tax planning has created entire cottage industries - private REITs, UPREITs, UP-Cs, tons of derivatives, etc.
(7) corporate lawyers tend do the same types of deals over and over. tax lawyers generally do a huge array of matters - capital markets, M&A, REIT, litigation awards, tax equity, bankruptcy, operational matters, etc.

OP: If you like tax, do it. It's way more intellectually interesting. It changes all the time which keeps it interesting, but you also have the opportunity to obtain "mastery" of a valuable slice of knowledge. You do a larger variety of deals and a larger variety of tasks compared to corporate because, in addition to revising docs, you also have large research projects and get to write and think about stuff; it's not just churning. The lifestyle is much better. You can easily switch to corporate if you decide you don't like it.

+1 from another junior tax associate.

One more thing to add is that it depends on your firm/office, but if you are at a major tax firm (skadden/baker/etc) you'll find the tax partners are bringing in most of the work that you do. Tax partners will be hired specifically for complex tax driven work (e.g. REITs/international tax planning), and there is a good chance your firm won't even be on the corporate side of things.

I find my work to be far more substantive than the corp associates from my year, and am overall very happy I went with tax. If you like tax go for it.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:33 pm

OP here. Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses! I really appreciated hearing about the experiences of current junior tax associates. Thanks to the others for confirming that we're all "bitches".

I really value the comments because the corporate associates (and lit) have been way more vocal about their negative impressions of tax than the tax folks are about marketing their practice. To be frank, it's been like what I imagine pledging a sorority entails. Lots of shade being thrown at the unpopular group while making me feel like an idiot for being willing to subject myself to the company of "weirdos".

I really enjoy my tax assignments and the partner who has been feeding me small tax projects throughout the summer. True to some stereotypes, most people in the department are ... quirky and I will stand apart in that regard but they are definitely people I would enjoy working with.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby trebekismyhero » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:00 pm

favabeansoup wrote:Are we seriously arguing about who is less of a bitch between corps and tax? Newsflash, we are all bitches and seen as such by all of our clients.

Let's not delude ourselves. The finance people have already negotiated like 90% of the deal before it even gets to lawyers. We are all simply paper pushers at heart.

With that said, on the ladder of lawyer bitches, junior corp associates are definitely near, if not at, the bottom. (I'm a junior corp so I know this). Tax guys are definitely above us.

Senior corp associates/partners can actually bring value though, I would put them slightly above tax guys. Also add in that corp partners tend to actually bring in the business for the tax guys so at that level there is an inherent hierarchy.

I can't think of too many "rainmaker" tax partners at my firm. I know they exist, but there just aren't that many compared to corp side.


Yep, I am a junior corp and this is exactly the case at my firm as well.

OP, if you like tax do tax

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses! I really appreciated hearing about the experiences of current junior tax associates. Thanks to the others for confirming that we're all "bitches".

I really value the comments because the corporate associates (and lit) have been way more vocal about their negative impressions of tax than the tax folks are about marketing their practice. To be frank, it's been like what I imagine pledging a sorority entails. Lots of shade being thrown at the unpopular group while making me feel like an idiot for being willing to subject myself to the company of "weirdos".

I really enjoy my tax assignments and the partner who has been feeding me small tax projects throughout the summer. True to some stereotypes, most people in the department are ... quirky and I will stand apart in that regard but they are definitely people I would enjoy working with.

I think it's really odd that associates are bad mouthing other groups at your firm. At my firm (and I assume most firms) this is really frowned upon.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby SmokeytheBear » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:38 pm

favabeansoup wrote:Are we seriously arguing about who is less of a bitch between corps and tax? Newsflash, we are all bitches and seen as such by all of our clients.

Let's not delude ourselves. The finance people have already negotiated like 90% of the deal before it even gets to lawyers. We are all simply paper pushers at heart.

With that said, on the ladder of lawyer bitches, junior corp associates are definitely near, if not at, the bottom. (I'm a junior corp so I know this). Tax guys are definitely above us.

Senior corp associates/partners can actually bring value though, I would put them slightly above tax guys. Also add in that corp partners tend to actually bring in the business for the tax guys so at that level there is an inherent hierarchy.

I can't think of too many "rainmaker" tax partners at my firm. I know they exist, but there just aren't that many compared to corp side.


I think that you're naveily simplifying the work that corporate attorneys do. Finance people might negotiate the financials of a deal and ask the lawyers to "paper it." But actually negotiating the terms is incredibly arduous.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby SmokeytheBear » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:39 pm

I change my opinion. This thread is a bunch of tax associates circle jerking each other.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:54 pm

Nvm
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby SmokeytheBear » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
SmokeytheBear wrote:
favabeansoup wrote:Are we seriously arguing about who is less of a bitch between corps and tax? Newsflash, we are all bitches and seen as such by all of our clients.

Let's not delude ourselves. The finance people have already negotiated like 90% of the deal before it even gets to lawyers. We are all simply paper pushers at heart.

With that said, on the ladder of lawyer bitches, junior corp associates are definitely near, if not at, the bottom. (I'm a junior corp so I know this). Tax guys are definitely above us.

Senior corp associates/partners can actually bring value though, I would put them slightly above tax guys. Also add in that corp partners tend to actually bring in the business for the tax guys so at that level there is an inherent hierarchy.

I can't think of too many "rainmaker" tax partners at my firm. I know they exist, but there just aren't that many compared to corp side.


I think that you're naveily simplifying the work that corporate attorneys do. Finance people might negotiate the financials of a deal and ask the lawyers to "paper it." But actually negotiating the terms is incredibly arduous.


No wonder you're bad mouthing tax, you are in objectively the most bitchmade and lamest practice area, which is finance.


1. Great anon use, bro.

2. Not in finance. Though much respect for my brothers in arms.

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Re: Choosing tax, big mistake?

Postby Pokemon » Fri Jun 23, 2017 7:24 pm

I am a corporate associate. Do tax! Lifestyle is mich better. And lol at being the bitch of a corp associate. Corporate associates are process monkeys.



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