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How to Build a Career as a Tax Lawyer

There’s no clear path to becoming an attorney of any type. Sure, you know that you need to go to law school — but then what? If you have any desire to become a tax lawyer, you may want to follow the steps below. While they’re only the first few steps along the path, they can help provide you with a framework to follow once you enter the real job market.

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How to Build a Career as a Tax Lawyer

  1. 1. How to Build a Career as a Tax Lawyer There’s no clear path to becoming an attorney of any type. Sure, you know that you need to go to law school — but then what? If you have any desire to become a tax lawyer, you may want to follow the steps below. While they’re only the first few steps along the path, they can help provide you with a framework to follow once you enter the real job market. Major in Finance Getting a job in tax law begins with picking the right major as an undergrad. While you might think of going with pre-law or political science, a major that focuses on finance will be a much better fit if you are looking to practice any type of law that deals with money. An accounting major or a general finance major will not only help you stand out in the crowd of pre-law hopefuls, but it will give you a better springboard from which to pursue future financial education. Attending a (Good) Law School Getting into law school isn’t enough if you want to be successful practicing tax law. Make sure you apply to a first or second tier school that not only has a reputation for turning out employable lawyers, but one that has a good financial law program. A large university that will let you take classes that cross-list with its college of finance or business may be your best bet. If possible, you may also want to think about double-majoring with a graduate degree that focuses on finances. This will make you far more employable when you graduate.
  2. 2. Pick Your Internships Well If you really want to practice tax law, you’ll want to get started early on. Visit your law school’s career development office and get a list of firms in your city that practice tax law. Start applying to those firms during the end of your first year if possible, and during your second year if they only accept 2L/3L students. Getting a good internship will not only teach you more about how tax law is practiced, but it will help get your foot in the door. If you can’t get a tax law internship specifically, apply to a large firm that also handles tax cases. Keep Learning Once you’ve graduated, try to find a job with a firm that practices tax law. No matter where you end up, though, you’ve got to keep learning — as the tax codes change, you’ll have more to keep up with than ever. Good tax attorneys, those who actually last in the field, are those who continually learn more. Make sure that all of your professional learning credits center around tax law and that you continually seek the guidance of more experienced attorneys who understand the difference between theory and real practice. Once you have your first job, your path is just beginning. You’ll need to study hard and work harder to establish yourself as a good tax attorney. You’ll work with people who are more experienced than you until you are ready, and then you’ll run back to them for help as you go it alone. A good tax lawyer generally follows the path above, but remember — your own path may look very different. William Doonan is a tax law and legal expert in New York.

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