Should I go for a Tax LLM?

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Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:16 pm

Median T-10 student. Laid off from my firm as a first year around October (corporate). I've been working (essentially volunteering my time) at my friend's early-stage start-up to avoid a resume gap, and looking for work. This searching has seemed to pan out in the direction of tax work. Through networking, I was able to get an offer from one of the Big 4 in their transfer pricing department. I also applied, and was accepted to the NYU Tax LLM.

I really miss being in a law firm. I've heard bad things about long-term career prospects for lawyers at the Big4. I really don't want to have gone to law school to not be a lawyer, but a job is a job. How bad of an idea it would be to do the tax LLM either this year, or next year, to try to get back into a law firm setting.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:06 pm

If you’re not dead set on being in NY, I would recommend working in the big-4 for a year and then lateraling. The quicker the better.

I regret getting my LLM on a regular basis. If I could’ve just gone to a big 4 then lateralled, I would’ve saved 90k+. I got a few offers less than a year into my big 4 career and I can honestly say I would’ve gotten the jobs without the LLM (I bombed my classes in the LLM). The positions weren’t in NY, but I wasn’t set on NY, so I didn’t care. My offers were mostly mid-Atlantic area.

Even if you’re trying to stay in NY, I would be more cautious about trying to use the LLM as a stepping stone. I think roughly 10-15 people get NY biglaw out of the LLM (that may be a generous number). Of that handful, many are in ERISA and exec comp, which isn’t really like other areas of tax.

You went to a T-10 so I’m assuming you’d have a good shot, but I know people who went to T-10 schools who ended up at accounting firms (and not by choice).

TLDR: LLM not worth it. Take Big 4 offer and lateral within 2 years

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:58 pm

Does anyone have any insights into exit options from Big4 TAS/M&A Tax practices in NYC/Boston/DC?

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:15 pm

Transfer pricing at a B4 has almost nothing in common with tax practice at a law firm. If the goal is to lateral from a B4 to a law firm, you need to join the M&A or international tax group, not TP.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:19 am

Anonymous User wrote:Transfer pricing at a B4 has almost nothing in common with tax practice at a law firm. If the goal is to lateral from a B4 to a law firm, you need to join the M&A or international tax group, not TP.


Correct answer. Although if you cannot get M&A or International through your contacts, then the NYU LLM can easily get you into these groups.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:59 am

Current LLM at the cheap state school. Starting biglaw when I graduate - V50, not in NY, but in a major market. Some things to consider:

1) LLM programs are a ton of work. It’s at least 30% worse than 1L. In addition to $$, it’s a huge time and energy investment. If you don’t like tax, you will be miserable. If you like tax ok, you’ll be miserable. If you really like tax, you’ll be slightly less miserable.

2) You said you’ve already applied and been accepted to NYU. I chose not to spend 90k on another private school degree, so if you’re serious, consider an inexpensive program. There’s only one viable option, so I don’t know why I’m not naming it outright. That being said, my friend went to NYU and got a biglaw offer first semester, so they got to start work in January and finish the LLM class by class. That’s not really an option at some schools.

3) Tax hiring is really good right now, for obvious reasons. Your JD stats are good enough, if your LLM grades and interview skills are respectable, you’ll get Intl Tax or M&A at one of the big 4 very very easily. I have two other friends who got their LLMs at GULC in worse years and started at big 4 then lateraled to biglaw pretty easily. Both T20 JDs with decent, but not amazing grades and respectable LLM performance. It will probably be easy to get a law firm offer too. Signaling gets you really far though - you have biglaw on your resume already, the firms will love that. You might get stuck doing benefits or exec comp.

4) LLM grades matter a lot in my experience, unless you get a job first semester.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone have any insights into exit options from Big4 TAS/M&A Tax practices in NYC/Boston/DC?



NYC/DC, exit options are probably another big 4 or maybe a company. The markets are over saturated with tax LLMs because NYU and GTown churn out like 120+ FT LLMs a year (not to mention the hundreds of PT students).

In Boston, exit options are possibly a law firm, but probably a company or another Big 4. But, if you look at the people at law firms in Boston, they: a) went to law school in Boston; and b) they did well in law school. Also, I think most people who did the big 4 to law firm move in Boston were actually in international tax. The Boston tax market is very small compared to NYC/DC, so I would not count on lateraling there either, though the chances may be slightly better than in NYC/DC.

When I was at NYU a few years ago, we would have lunches with tax partners from various law firms. The “is it possible to lateral from a Big 4 to law firm” question always came up, and the partners mostly said they don’t consider Big 4 applicants because there are so many law firm applicants.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:55 pm

The connection was for TP and now the offer is for TP. I don't think I can exactly counter-offer and ask to be in another department.

Is the Tl'dr of this thread to turn the offer down and do the Tax LLM?

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Does anyone have any insights into exit options from Big4 TAS/M&A Tax practices in NYC/Boston/DC?



When I was at NYU a few years ago, we would have lunches with tax partners from various law firms. The “is it possible to lateral from a Big 4 to law firm” question always came up, and the partners mostly said they don’t consider Big 4 applicants because there are so many law firm applicants.


This depends. I've seen many NYU Tax LLMs lateral from Big 4 M&A/International to NYC law firms. But it's definitely more common outside NYC. In my Non NYC market I've seen them primarily lateraling to large regional firms (100 attorneys to 250 attorney firms) but there have been a few lateraling to big law but they need to have a good JD (at least top 50 school). Probably the same in NYC as well. If you have a good JD, strong performance there, and in the NYU Tax LLM program you can lateral out from Big 4.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:34 pm

It really depends. My friend works as a recruiter and she says that law firms aren’t really interested in Big 4 applicants when I try to connect former classmates with her for open positions.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:42 am

You can also get into the Big 4 WNTS groups from NYU. It's basically an internal law firm for the accounting firms. Having that on your resume will open a lot of doors. Salaries in this group are higher and you come in as a senior associate.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby sparty99 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:21 am

Take the job. You won't go into debt and you might find that a career in a BIg 4 is more desirable for your long term goals. Moreover, it's not a death sentence. You can always apply to Big law positions while at the Big 4. I've seen lawyers go from Big 4 to law firms from my T30 law school. You already have a good law school and Big law experience. I would not waste money on a LLm. Just join Big 4 and see where it takes you. A lot can happen within 6 months to a year.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:23 am

sparty99 wrote:Take the job. You won't go into debt and you might find that a career in a BIg 4 is more desirable for your long term goals. Moreover, it's not a death sentence. You can always apply to Big law positions while at the Big 4. I've seen lawyers go from Big 4 to law firms from my T30 law school. You already have a good law school and Big law experience. I would not waste money on a LLm. Just join Big 4 and see where it takes you. A lot can happen within 6 months to a year.


This makes sense, but would this be possible from Transfer Pricing? Also, what do law firms that do Transfer Pricing do that is substantially different from B4 TP?

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Apr 02, 2018 12:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
sparty99 wrote:Take the job. You won't go into debt and you might find that a career in a BIg 4 is more desirable for your long term goals. Moreover, it's not a death sentence. You can always apply to Big law positions while at the Big 4. I've seen lawyers go from Big 4 to law firms from my T30 law school. You already have a good law school and Big law experience. I would not waste money on a LLm. Just join Big 4 and see where it takes you. A lot can happen within 6 months to a year.


This makes sense, but would this be possible from Transfer Pricing? Also, what do law firms that do Transfer Pricing do that is substantially different from B4 TP?


The day-to-day practice of a TP professional (certainly for a junior) primarily consists of benchmarking to determine a defensible allocation of pre-tax profit between related entities in a cross-border context. At its core this is a valuation question, not a legal question. This is why most professionals in B4 TP are trained in economics and accounting, not law. At B4 TP, you won't be doing any substantive work comparable to what tax lawyers regularly work on in law firms (e.g. advising on interpretation of new Treasury regs, drafting tax provisions in agreements, etc.). There are overlaps in the work done by Big Law tax and B4 M&A/ITS/WNT, but basically none between Big Law tax and B4 TP.

You can certainly have a rewarding career in B4 TP, but in the absence of other tax experience it will not help you land a job in the tax department of Big Law.

Source: Former B4 TP assistant manager and current BL tax lawyer.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby nealric » Mon Apr 02, 2018 3:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
sparty99 wrote:Take the job. You won't go into debt and you might find that a career in a BIg 4 is more desirable for your long term goals. Moreover, it's not a death sentence. You can always apply to Big law positions while at the Big 4. I've seen lawyers go from Big 4 to law firms from my T30 law school. You already have a good law school and Big law experience. I would not waste money on a LLm. Just join Big 4 and see where it takes you. A lot can happen within 6 months to a year.


This makes sense, but would this be possible from Transfer Pricing? Also, what do law firms that do Transfer Pricing do that is substantially different from B4 TP?


The day-to-day practice of a TP professional (certainly for a junior) primarily consists of benchmarking to determine a defensible allocation of pre-tax profit between related entities in a cross-border context. At its core this is a valuation question, not a legal question. This is why most professionals in B4 TP are trained in economics and accounting, not law. At B4 TP, you won't be doing any substantive work comparable to what tax lawyers regularly work on in law firms (e.g. advising on interpretation of new Treasury regs, drafting tax provisions in agreements, etc.). There are overlaps in the work done by Big Law tax and B4 M&A/ITS/WNT, but basically none between Big Law tax and B4 TP.

You can certainly have a rewarding career in B4 TP, but in the absence of other tax experience it will not help you land a job in the tax department of Big Law.

Source: Former B4 TP assistant manager and current BL tax lawyer.


As a tax attorney, I second this motion. TP is its own thing, and I would only go that route if you are more interested in transfer pricing than tax itself. I personally find it dreadfully boring, but to each their own.

You might consider going into the TP department and then using it as a stepping stone to another group, then doing the executive LLM at NYU. Going straight to the LLM is a bit of a gamble as the end result may be an offer no better than what's on the table.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Tefinn » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:55 pm

Just do Big 4 M&A or International. Shouldn’t be too hard to get with your experience. PM me if you need a referral.

As others have mentioned, TP is absolutely the wrong career path.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:15 am

Are PMs still disabled? Are those...ever coming back?

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby FredP2017 » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:50 am

Tefinn wrote:Just do Big 4 M&A or International. Shouldn’t be too hard to get with your experience. PM me if you need a referral.

As others have mentioned, TP is absolutely the wrong career path.



Check boxes both (i) & (ii).

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Tefinn » Thu Apr 05, 2018 12:08 pm

Had not realized that PM is no longer an option. What a shame.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:57 am

OP here - hopefully this doesn't result in too many spam calls, but Tefinn, you can call me at [redacted]. Thanks!

Moderator note: Anon's phone number redacted to protect his/her privacy (presumably Tefinn has already seen the number). The poster should feel free to re-add his/her phone number to the post (or make a new post) if s/he would like to keep their phone number up. -QContinuum
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited to remove potentially identifying information.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby WanyeKest » Sat Oct 27, 2018 5:02 pm

OP, any update on your situation?

Also, I am considering applying to a few Tax LLM programs. As someone who would be going straight from law school to the program, I was wondering what someone in this situation do over the summer before the LLM program begins? Take the bar? Clerk/Extern? Greatly appreciate any insight any of you may have.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:55 am

I went tax LLM directly after JD. I studied for the bar and got a paid internship scheduled to start the week after the bar, which ran until orientation at the tax LLM program.

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Re: Should I go for a Tax LLM?

Postby Tefinn » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:01 am

Apologies for the very delayed response, I figured that I would receive a notification when someone else posted to this thread. With PMs enabled once again, please feel free to PM me if you still need a referral.



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