Tax attorneys work for law firms, corporations, and government agencies. They may specialize in estate law, tax litigation, corporate tax, executive compensation, municipal finance, or international tax planning, among other areas. They work closely with other attorneys and financial professionals. According to the Department of Labor, there are 813,900 lawyers employed in the United States. About half of all lawyers are employed full time in legal services, and about 17 percent are self-employed.
After passing the bar exam, tax lawyers start out as associates. Many gain initial experience through part-time jobs or summer internships while in school. They may work in law firms, the legal departments of corporations, or government agencies. Summer associate programs are available to law students after they have finished their second year of law school. Those who perform well as associates often receive job offers after they graduate from law school. Their school's career services office provides assistance in finding tax law internships and employment opportunities.
Most tax attorneys start as associates in law firms or the legal departments of corporations. Some organizations offer mentorship programs in which associates are partnered with more experienced lawyers. Associate tax attorneys with two or more years of experience advance to become full tax attorneys. Some eventually become partners in their law firm, which means they are partial owners of the company. Tax attorneys with five or more years of experience may leave full-time jobs to start their own law practice.
Tips for Entry
Get an internship or part-time job with a law firm that offers tax law services. Ask your school's career services office for help with finding work-study opportunities.
Keep up with tax regulations and developments by reading publications such as TAXPRO Journal (https://www.natptax.com/Publications/TaxProJournal/Pages/default.aspx) and The Economist (http://www.economist.com/topics/tax-law).
Interview a tax lawyer to find out how they got started in their career, what the daily responsibilities are, and what they enjoy most and least about their work. Professional associations such as the National Association of Tax Professionals (https://www.natptax.com) can help you locate a tax lawyer interested in sharing information with students.
Visit the Taxation section of the American Bar Association's Web site to find news, policy information, publications, and upcoming meetings and events that may be useful to attend: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/taxation.html.