Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

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Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:57 am

Stats: I start this summer, went to a T2 for law school, e board on LR, booked a tax class, 4.0 average in the rest of the tax classes in law school, NYU LLM, no ties to DC before clerkship. Pay is a shade under $80k for the first year (that info is on the government pay scale tables, though).

Things I won't mention: my judge's name or anything about him/her, my TLS handle, names of schools I attended other than NYU, info about my co-clerks' backgrounds and credentials

Fire away if anyone is curious.

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StylinNProfilin
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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby StylinNProfilin » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:19 am

Did you always want to do tax? How interesting is the work?

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ph14
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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby ph14 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Stats: I start this summer, went to a T2 for law school, e board on LR, booked a tax class, 4.0 average in the rest of the tax classes in law school, NYU LLM, no ties to DC before clerkship. Pay is a shade under $80k for the first year (that info is on the government pay scale tables, though).

Things I won't mention: my judge's name or anything about him/her, my TLS handle, names of schools I attended other than NYU, info about my co-clerks' backgrounds and credentials

Fire away if anyone is curious.


Do you have employment lined up for after graduation?

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:28 pm

StylinNProfilin wrote:Did you always want to do tax? How interesting is the work?

OP here: Stumbled into tax my second year of law school, so not always planned. I find tax work incredibly interesting, but I could definitely see how it could be boring and mundane to others. Clerking will mostly be substantiation of creative problem solving within a relatively rigid structure (the Code), where the soft spots are continually moving targets depending on how the IRS is defining its initiatives for that particular administration.

ph14 wrote:Do you have employment lined up for after graduation?

Standing offer from the firm I summered with, plus lock-step seniority bump and bonus. Much like an LL.M., I'd be wary of advising anyone to take a clerkship with hopes of landing biglaw if they weren't biglaw material before taking the clerkship.

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Mce252
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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Mce252 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:25 pm

I have two SA gigs lined up this upcoming summer and have become increasingly interested in tax after taking Federal Income Tax.

My main source of hesitation is the general requirement that tax attorneys obtain an L.L.M. If you are willing to share, how much additional debt did you end up taking on to finish at NYU? Is there any chance that a V50 firm would help with tuition costs if they had a need for tax associates?

Also, congratulations on the standing offer with the firm. Do you know if it is common for biglaw firms to hold offers for students who were SAs and pursued an LLM?

Thanks a bunch.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:15 pm

Mce252 wrote:I have two SA gigs lined up this upcoming summer and have become increasingly interested in tax after taking Federal Income Tax.

My main source of hesitation is the general requirement that tax attorneys obtain an L.L.M. If you are willing to share, how much additional debt did you end up taking on to finish at NYU? Is there any chance that a V50 firm would help with tuition costs if they had a need for tax associates?

Also, congratulations on the standing offer with the firm. Do you know if it is common for biglaw firms to hold offers for students who were SAs and pursued an LLM?

Thanks a bunch.

OP again:

I'm not at all convinced a tax attorney needs an LLM to do well. It can help young attorneys with the steep learning curve, but it's far from a "general requirement" in any case. Most tax attorneys practice in a very small subset of the code (mergers, exec. comp, transfer pricing, tax controversy, etc.). Most of it can be picked up on the job if you have an aptitude for tax work and discipline to learn it. Try to get some rotations in the tax groups at your SA firms to see if you really like tax in practice (which is vastly different from Fed. Income Tax for most firms). If you do, then I'd try to get placed in the tax group permanently and get your LL.M. after a few years of practice. I would have gone this route without the scholarship, but didn't want to take a chance that I wouldn't get the scholarship the next time around. Plus, I'm young and not tied down right now, etc. and that might change after a few years' practicing.

Cost of attendance at NYU is currently around $75k for the year. Between scholarships and savings going in, it will cost me significantly less than $75k in debt. But YMMV.

Whether you get help from a firm is entirely firm-specific. There really are no generalizations except to say that no firms help pay for LL.M. costs, except the firms that do help. I'd wait to ask about this until you have an offer in hand, or the firm brings it up. Admittedly, I've been out of the firm hiring climate for a couple years now, but when I went through that part, firms were looking for risks to justify turning away perfectly good candidates at the permanent offer stage.

On holding offers: again, there's no general rule here. Some do and some don't. This is another question I'd wait to ask until you've got an offer.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Mce252 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:34 pm

Awesome. Thanks for the response.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:22 am

Thanks for taking questions, have a couple for you:

1. Any sense of what tax court judges would think of an NYU E-LLM? Obviously not as good as the real deal, but complete garbage?

2. Do you know whether tax court judges give any weight to a MAcc in tax from a top accounting school?

3. I've heard rumors that several tax court clerks have concurrently clerked and attended GULC for their tax LLM. True or BS?

Again, thanks for the time.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for taking questions, have a couple for you:

1. Any sense of what tax court judges would think of an NYU E-LLM? Obviously not as good as the real deal, but complete garbage?

2. Do you know whether tax court judges give any weight to a MAcc in tax from a top accounting school?

3. I've heard rumors that several tax court clerks have concurrently clerked and attended GULC for their tax LLM. True or BS?

Again, thanks for the time.

OP again: Happy to answer questions, so keep 'em coming.

1) I have no clue what judges would think about the NYU E-LLM. I will say this: almost all of the people who are doing the E-LLM have extensive practice experience, and (in my limited experience) very rarely do those with extensive practice experience end up clerking for the Tax Court. I'm not sure if that helps answer your question, but there it is.

2) I would imagine they look on them favorably. However, judges appear to have two distinctions regarding degrees: the age-old prestige (high class rank from high ranked schools win out over lower) and whether you have an LLM or not. Some judges only hire those with LLMs. I have yet to see a judge advertise that s/he only wants those with MAccs or other degrees.

3) I can't speak to this one. No court rules say that it's impossible, but I'd imagine that would be a lot of work. I'd ask that question to the Georgetown Admissions Office. If I run across someone who's taking that route in the future, I'll try to remember to update this thread.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:58 pm

Bumping this after a few weeks on the job. Applications are pouring in for fall 2014 hiring, if anyone has questions about the hiring process for this particular court. Pretty sweet gig so far.

Also happy to let this thread die if
godspeed wrote:no one cares.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:25 pm

I'm a 3L interested in tax law (3 tax classes, consistent with my other grades). I go to a bottom T1 and am in the top 1/4. I have worked / clerked in firms throughout law school. How do you find which judges are looking to hire clerks? I checked my Symplicity for resume referrals and OCI for clerkships or jobs and have come up empty-handed. I don't understand how people say they applied to 100+ jobs and got 40 cbs. My simplicity has 15 OCI (5 from same department) and 150 resume referrals (most are looking for experienced lawyers). I feel like im missing something!

Wow, I ranted. Sorry.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a 3L interested in tax law (3 tax classes, consistent with my other grades). I go to a bottom T1 and am in the top 1/4. I have worked / clerked in firms throughout law school. How do you find which judges are looking to hire clerks? I checked my Symplicity for resume referrals and OCI for clerkships or jobs and have come up empty-handed. I don't understand how people say they applied to 100+ jobs and got 40 cbs. My simplicity has 15 OCI (5 from same department) and 150 resume referrals (most are looking for experienced lawyers). I feel like im missing something!

Wow, I ranted. Sorry.

On its own, being in the top quarter of your class at a low T1 with only three tax classes isn't going to get you a look from most judges on the Tax Court. This is especially true if those classes didn't result in straight-As. Were any of your summer internships tax-related? What drives your interest in tax law? Without an LLM, intensive tax-related work experience (think public accounting or associate in the tax department of a firm), or a truly random and uncontrollable aspect of your application catching the clerk/judge's eye (you went to the judge's alma mater, etc.), you're starting from behind the 8-ball in convincing your sincerity to most judges on this particular court. Not saying you can't land a clerkship here, but that's what you're facing.

As for how to find vacancies: many judges solicit applications from the top tax LLM programs each fall at the beginning of the semester (NYU, GULC, UF and NW this year). Individual judges also post clerkship vacancies on the Tax Court website occasionally. You can also apply to each judge's chambers directly. Maybe it ends up in file 13, maybe that judge happens to be hiring and you get an offer.

Sorry to hear your frustration about OCI, but you're just not going to have 100+ employers at OCI with a 40 CB yield outside the truly top law schools (maybe not even there?). Lower T1 definitely isn't going to be a truly top law school. Clerkships usually aren't posted on most law schools' symplicity sites. OSCAR is the AIII clerkship hiring website. I don't know as much about the post-plan clerkship world that's developed since I went through the process, so I'll let others with more relevant knowledge comment on that aspect of the job search.

rad lulz
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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby rad lulz » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:24 pm

Favorite code provision?

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:33 pm

rad lulz wrote:Favorite code provision?

Probably 409A.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:34 am

Hello,

I will be applying for a a clerkship on the tax court soon. I would appreciate any tips you have, especially with regards to Judge Gale and Judge Morrison. Also, the application indicates that I should apply in the "early fall", but I am waiting for a letter of recommendation. Am I shooting myself in the foot by putting this off by a week or two?

Thanks!

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:45 pm

Hi-Can you give some sense of the weight of particular CV factors to the judges? For instance, do LLM grades outweigh JD grades in the decisionmaking process? Will great tax grades outweigh average non-tax grades? If you're going to have an LLM, how important is it to attend NYU/GULC/Florida? Etc. Thanks.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:56 am

Hi, For the judges who are not listed online as looking for clerks what is the best way to apply? Where is the best place to get the correct mailing addresses?

Thanks!

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hello,

I will be applying for a a clerkship on the tax court soon. I would appreciate any tips you have, especially with regards to Judge Gale and Judge Morrison. Also, the application indicates that I should apply in the "early fall", but I am waiting for a letter of recommendation. Am I shooting myself in the foot by putting this off by a week or two?

Thanks!

OP here. Sorry for the delay.

You need to get your apps in ASAP, if you haven't done so already. NYU's day at the tax court was last Friday. Many of the judges who hire clerks on a yearly basis do so through that program. Not sure about Gale, but I'm almost positive Morrison hired from NYU's day at the tax court program last year and was interviewing through that program this year.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi-Can you give some sense of the weight of particular CV factors to the judges? For instance, do LLM grades outweigh JD grades in the decisionmaking process? Will great tax grades outweigh average non-tax grades? If you're going to have an LLM, how important is it to attend NYU/GULC/Florida? Etc. Thanks.

OP again. No definitive answer to any of your questions, really.

For some judges, LLM grades could outweigh JD grades, but only the JD tax grades. And only if you have LLM grades when you're applying. Since almost all hiring happens in the fall semester of your LLM program, it's rare that you have any LLM grades at all. To the extent you can generalize at all, I'd guess most judges look predominantly to JD tax grades and the strength of your JD program.

In our particular chambers, even great JD tax grades will not overcome poor non-tax grades. I know for a fact that this is not the case in at least two other chambers.

Speaking broadly and ignoring some notable exceptions, it's very important to have an LLM from NYU or (second only because of proximity) GULC. UF doesn't cut it, for the most part, unless the applicant has an otherwise impressive resume.

Our general hiring policy is fairly standard: you have to have either an LLM in tax (or currently enrolled) or substantive tax work experience to get past the first cut. Literally no consideration given to JD school, grades, writing sample, etc. at that level. Then, it's traditional metrics and finding someone who jumps out. Each clerk independently reviews and recommends/denies all of the applicants. Higher ranked students at higher ranked schools are given preference over those at lower ranked schools. There are enough applicants who have high tax GPAs and high overall GPAs, so differentiating between the two isn't an issue. LORs play a (probably disproportionately) large role in the process at that point, as do phone recommendations. (Yes, we call your references.) No preference by our judge for his/her alma mater, but that's not always the case. Some judges/clerks scrutinize the writing sample. I largely ignore it. My co-clerk may or may not when s/he's reviewing the same application. I love short cover letters, my co-clerk prefers at least three paragraphs.

Bottom line: it's a mixed bag. All of the traditional metrics matter, some more than others to different judges. Apply broadly, and see what comes up.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:43 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi, For the judges who are not listed online as looking for clerks what is the best way to apply? Where is the best place to get the correct mailing addresses?

Thanks!

OP here, one last time.

All of the judges have chambers in the same building in DC. Mailing address is available on the Tax Court website.

Address an application to each judge individually. In our chambers, we get applications steadily throughout the year. To the extent we're hiring, we'll consider your timely application. To the extent we're not, we'll periodically send out rejection letters when enough applications have accumulated to make it worth spending some time sending them out.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hi-Can you give some sense of the weight of particular CV factors to the judges? For instance, do LLM grades outweigh JD grades in the decisionmaking process? Will great tax grades outweigh average non-tax grades? If you're going to have an LLM, how important is it to attend NYU/GULC/Florida? Etc. Thanks.

OP again. No definitive answer to any of your questions, really.

For some judges, LLM grades could outweigh JD grades, but only the JD tax grades. And only if you have LLM grades when you're applying. Since almost all hiring happens in the fall semester of your LLM program, it's rare that you have any LLM grades at all. To the extent you can generalize at all, I'd guess most judges look predominantly to JD tax grades and the strength of your JD program.

In our particular chambers, even great JD tax grades will not overcome poor non-tax grades. I know for a fact that this is not the case in at least two other chambers.

Speaking broadly and ignoring some notable exceptions, it's very important to have an LLM from NYU or (second only because of proximity) GULC. UF doesn't cut it, for the most part, unless the applicant has an otherwise impressive resume.

Our general hiring policy is fairly standard: you have to have either an LLM in tax (or currently enrolled) or substantive tax work experience to get past the first cut. Literally no consideration given to JD school, grades, writing sample, etc. at that level. Then, it's traditional metrics and finding someone who jumps out. Each clerk independently reviews and recommends/denies all of the applicants. Higher ranked students at higher ranked schools are given preference over those at lower ranked schools. There are enough applicants who have high tax GPAs and high overall GPAs, so differentiating between the two isn't an issue. LORs play a (probably disproportionately) large role in the process at that point, as do phone recommendations. (Yes, we call your references.) No preference by our judge for his/her alma mater, but that's not always the case. Some judges/clerks scrutinize the writing sample. I largely ignore it. My co-clerk may or may not when s/he's reviewing the same application. I love short cover letters, my co-clerk prefers at least three paragraphs.

Bottom line: it's a mixed bag. All of the traditional metrics matter, some more than others to different judges. Apply broadly, and see what comes up.


That's very helpful, thank you. Good luck with the remainder of your term.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:59 pm

Could you give us some advice how to prepare and be somewhat ready for the clerkship? Most of the advice clerks have given me is just to relax, because we will basically learn everything "on the job."

But, do you recommend any books we should read, classes we should take, or any other way to help us be ready for the position?


Thanks!

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:04 pm

Most of the advice you've gotten is spot-on. Read the most recent 5 or so opinions written by your judge. Take partnership tax, s corps and taxation of property transactions if you want classes that cover the majority of what you deal with on a daily basis. But your other sources see right in that you'll learn everything you need to on the job.

No books will be particularly illuminating. It would help to read the Tax Court rules of practice and procedure, and maybe a book on writing plain English for lawyers. But that's overkill, in my opinion.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:32 pm

Great! Thank you for your prompt response! I really appreciate it.

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Re: Tax Court Clerk: Taking Qs

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:33 pm

OP...do you know if any of the judges who participated in NYU Day at the Tax Court have not made offers yet? I've heard offers go out pretty quickly, but then the government shutdown happened right after Day at the Tax Court, so just wondering what's going on with offers.

Thanks!




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