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Author Topic: Asking questions about a tax LLM is trendy, right?  (Read 4416 times)

Number81

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Asking questions about a tax LLM is trendy, right?
« on: July 20, 2009, 11:33:36 AM »
So, as part of my job hunt this year, I e-mailed about 20-25 associates/partners at various mid & biglaw firms and asked dumb questions and tried to start "networking" (don't worry Matthies, I'm doing other stuff, too!).  Although I don't know how successful I was in actually networking, I did get some insightful responses from several people.  Obviously every person I talked to said that the job market is unbelievably bad.  In light of that, the advice I got from a couple of people was that I should do everything possible to improve my resume while delaying starting work; two suggested seriously looking into an LLM in tax, and hoping that by the time I finish the economy improves.  (I'm also considering the idea of applying to G-Tech and taking 24 hours in physics so I can sit for the patent bar, or trying to convince the business school to let me do a JD/MBA).

Anyway, I read over most the relevant threads here, but a couple questions...

(1) It seems like biglaw basically ignores the tax LLM and instead picks people based on their JD performance.  But, when I was looking for places to mass mail, I noticed a lot of midlaw firms with HYS/CCN law grads, along with T2+LLM students.  I don't really care how prestigious my firm is, but I do care how much money I make.  Will a tax LLM significantly improve my chances of getting a 110k+ job?  Are there a significant # of non-biglaw jobs?

(2) Given that there are (relatively) probably a lot of people considering this path, any idea what my chances are of landing NYU/GULC/UF?  Is it worth going to Miami/UVA?  Would I be competitive for $$ at any of these places?
Relevant info:  Based on my current GPA, and my plan to coast the rest of the way through law school, I'm guessing I end up 30-50% at Emory (ranked #20).  I am planning on going through our Transactional program, so I should have a fair number of tax courses.  I am mostly interested in a tax LLM because I am assuming I will not have a "real" job, so work experience is not going to be a selling point.

(3) Serious newbie question.  Let's say they completely reform the tax code.  Would an LLM in tax lose a lot of value?  Will classes in tax turn out to be a total waste?

(4) Will I be able to defer my loans while I am doing the LLM thing?

(5) Are there other LLMs or other degrees I should consider?  Law in general is very interesting to me ... so I'm not worried about being uninterested regardless of what I pursue -- I want to do whatever I can to maximize my earning potential.  Also, I am not afraid of hard sciences or other grad schools.


Gracias.
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Matthies

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Re: Asking questions about a tax LLM is trendy, right?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2009, 12:01:46 PM »
A couple of quick responses. Yes your loans will defer while you’re in an LLM so long as you take 9 credits or more (what they consider “fulltime”). Even if they change the tax code your LLM will still be valuable. The biggest thing about getting an LLM though is most schools and employers don’t have OCI for an LLm. So if you were bad at getting a job without OCI as a JD grad you’re going to be in the same boat only with more debt and LLm and still bad at getting a job without the help of OCI. So the easiest thing to do is improve your getting a job other than OCI skills. Finally if you’re really worried about not having job experience and sitting out the bad economy what about dropping your hours for 3L to 9 credits per semester and getting a PT law clerk job. This would allow you to sit out another half to a full year and get some work experience plus perhaps a job offer from your employer. Right now I’d focus on what you can do to make yourself marketable with the JD and worry about the LLM options depending on where you are in a year or so.
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big - fat - box

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Re: Asking questions about a tax LLM is trendy, right?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2009, 01:57:23 PM »
http://www.taxtalent.com/forum/index.cfm?BeginShow=1&CAT=general

Probably a better place to find tax LLM info.

What Matthies said is pretty much right on. I would necessarily count on having a big $$$ job after doing the LLM. Even some NYU LLMs do not those types of jobs. A lot of tax LLMs have to resort to work at Big 4 acct. firms, which pay much less than the larger law firms. I would expect even those jobs to be scarce at this point.

Another thing to keep in mind is that tax courses are hard and a lot of people find them boring.

MBA dual degree is a waste of $$$, especially for someone with no real pre-law work experience.

I would talk to patent attys for real advice before doing the 24 hours of physics. That might not be a good idea.

Michigan_Saintsfan

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Re: Asking questions about a tax LLM is trendy, right?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2009, 01:44:57 AM »
Your questions--

(2) Taxtalent is better for this question but beware! Lots of doom and gloom over there these days. 

(3) Reformed Code. Sheesh, it's not like you can memorize the whole Code or even need to. I'm sure you've noticed or you should have noticed that a lot of stuff from say, the 1954 Code made it to the 1986 Code. You learn the core stuff, learn the tax common law doctrines and then roll with the changes. Don't worry about this one. Seriously. This is far more aggrivating at the state level but still--you can manage it.

General note--

I force myself to go to all the state tax section events, with some success. I'm surprised (but kinda glad) by how few students I see doing this. I found a good clerking opportunity so I've been happy doing that and I agree with the other poster (even if for other reasons) who suggested you might consider adding some kind of working experience into your schedule.

I agree with b-f-b that at least some tax classes are hard (Corp, P'ship) but I never had the opportunity to say they're boring. If this isn't something you want to do, don't.

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Re: Asking questions about a tax LLM is trendy, right?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2009, 11:01:01 AM »
(3) Reformed Code. Sheesh, it's not like you can memorize the whole Code or even need to. I'm sure you've noticed or you should have noticed that a lot of stuff from say, the 1954 Code made it to the 1986 Code. You learn the core stuff, learn the tax common law doctrines and then roll with the changes. Don't worry about this one. Seriously. This is far more aggrivating at the state level but still--you can manage it.

He may have been referring to something like a complete overhaul as proposed by Fair Tax advocates.

Michigan_Saintsfan

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Re: Asking questions about a tax LLM is trendy, right?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2009, 06:19:15 PM »
(3) Reformed Code. Sheesh, it's not like you can memorize the whole Code or even need to. I'm sure you've noticed or you should have noticed that a lot of stuff from say, the 1954 Code made it to the 1986 Code. You learn the core stuff, learn the tax common law doctrines and then roll with the changes. Don't worry about this one. Seriously. This is far more aggrivating at the state level but still--you can manage it.

He may have been referring to something like a complete overhaul as proposed by Fair Tax advocates.

I had read "reform" to mean eliminating planning opportunities that are viewed as abusive. But you're probably correct. Good catch.

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Re: Asking questions about a tax LLM is trendy, right?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2009, 06:57:08 PM »
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Number81

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Re: Asking questions about a tax LLM is trendy, right?
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2009, 12:41:32 AM »
Well I meant reform in the "something reasonably likely" sense.  I don't expect the Fair Tax to come any time soon.

I believe there was quite a lot of talk from Obama (during the election) about "a complete overhaul" of the tax code so that it is easy for individuals to file taxes without an accountant, and so that various "loop holes" will be closed.  I guess this is lower on his list than health care, so we haven't heard anything about it yet.  But, if we took his rhetoric at face value and assumed he was going to be able to push it through, it seemed concerning for tax lawyers.  Since I don't actually know anything on the subject, however, I'm happy to accept that any chances wouldn't affect tax attorney jobs.

Couple responses:
Quote
So if you were bad at getting a job without OCI as a JD grad you’re going to be in the same boat only with more debt and LLm and still bad at getting a job without the help of OCI.
Ugh, I really am working hard to get a job right now.  That is what is making this so frustrating.  I mass mailed 300 employers using pretty individualized cover letters, and I have had 0 positive responses (lots of negative).  So far I have 2 interviews for OCI, and 1 off-campus interview (and only about 20 or so more employers to go, all off-campus).  I've been doing everything I can to network, and I've met some nice folks...  but most the people I've met are junior associates that are scared to death about their job (I am following your advice and not actually asking them for help yet).  And the partners that I have talked to have suggested trying to stay in school as long as possible -- which is also concerning since more debt + no job is worse than less debt + no job.
And the idea of starting as a law clerk and then working part-time sounds nice, but if I could land something like that then I wouldn't be so damn concerned.  This summer, I had a gig like that lined up, and then the firm didn't get any work so I only ended up getting 5-10 hours a week at a firm with 4 attorneys.  I've e-mailed other firms to work during the school year and they have no work.
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