Tax law is an extremely challenging field, and aspiring tax attorneys must work to sharpen their skills in order to stay competitive in this job market. One of the most important things a person can do to become a successful tax lawyer is obtain a quality education and proper licensing, but there are many other surprising skills needed to make it in the world of tax law. A career as a tax attorney can be very rewarding, as it gives you the opportunity to help those who need assistance with complicated legal battles. To become a successful and well-respected tax attorney, you will need to cultivate the following skills.
Education and Licensing
Before going to law school, you must obtain an undergraduate degree. You may become a lawyer with any undergraduate degree; however, if you are interested in tax law in particular, it is best to major in related fields such as business, economics and finance. It is important to achieve high grades, even at the undergraduate level, as your academic success will have an impact on which law schools you are able to get into. After completing your undergraduate degree, it is beneficial to pursue an L.L.M. (Master of Law) in taxation. Obtaining this degree will allow you to become more familiar with tax laws and will prepare you for handling real world cases. A Juris Doctorate degree is then required in order to practice law. Some careers in tax law require additional certification after law school. For example, to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you must pass an enrollment exam through the IRS and become an agent.
Accounting and Mathematical Skills
You might not be signing up for a career as a mathematician, but you will need to understand the math behind tax laws and regulations in order to adequately assist your clients. A strong background in math and accounting will sharpen the analytical skills that are essential for practicing tax law. Lawyers in all fields benefit from sharpened mathematical skills and report math is helpful for passing the LSAT, understanding tax fraud and analyzing complex cases. The American Bar Association reports that deficient mathematical skills have contributed to major errors in many legal cases in the United States. It is especially important for tax attorneys to have a firm grasp on accounting and math basics, as their work revolves around numbers-based information and lawsuits.
The ability to communicate with clients is crucial to being a successful and reputable tax attorney. Those who practice tax law face the challenge of presenting very complicated information in a way that is understandable. Interpersonal communication skills are vital for building trust with clients who need your assistance with their financial and legal concerns. You will also need to communicate with judges and juries in a professional yet persuasive tone.
All lawyers must be able to juggle multiple clients at once, but tax attorneys have the added responsibility of managing constantly changing tax laws. Tax attorneys must be extremely organized and detail-oriented to keep up with the many changes that occur in the law. Understanding tax law requires the ability to organize important information and analyze each case in a way that is beneficial to the client.
Most people do not get into tax law because they love to write; however, it is important not to overlook the value of writing concisely and coherently. Being a tax attorney requires writing up complaints or responses to various lawsuits, and the ability to write well is becoming more important in today’s legal world. According to the Chicago Lawyer, writing plays an essential role in the outcome of many cases. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of cases decided based on written motions and briefs. This means your ability to write persuasively will have a direct impact on the outcome of many of the cases you work.
The ability to identify the best way to resolve a dispute is essential for being a successful tax attorney. Negotiation skills are particularly important for tax attorneys because not only must they be convincing to win a case, but they must also juggle the complicated tax laws to be able to find the best solutions.
Becoming a tax lawyer is a great way to pursue your passion while making a difference in the lives of others. Stay competitive and become the best tax attorney you can be by cultivating these important skills.
About the Author: Kelly Perkins worked as a tax lawyer for 15 years.