Tax Attorney Career

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     Career Development Office
    Nova Southeastern University
     Shepard Broad Law Center


                           SELECTED SPECIALTIES

This section briefly describes a few areas of law practice specialty. Its purpose is to
stimulate interest and consideration of career options. Further research into these areas
will enable you to make informed career decisions.

ADMINSTRATIVE LAW encompasses the application and interpretation of the rulings
and regulations of federal, state and local government agencies. Attorney’s working with
a governmental agency will be primarily involved with the enforcement of regulations
and rulings promulgated by the particular agency. Administrative lawyers develop an
expertise in the implementation and interpretation of “their” agencies’ rules and
regulations. In private practice, administrative law cuts across many legal specialties –
banking, securities, tax, and communications, to name a few. Experience with a
government agency is advantageous in seeking a position in the private sector.

ADMIRALTY/MARITIME LAW involves legal surrounding business transactions via
water, whether blue (oceanic) or brown (river or lakes). It is concerned with the use of
bodies of water by commerce. It can include areas as far-reaching and diverse as oil and
gas law, environmental law, contracts (charter parties, bills of landing, and letters of
credit), personal injury law, products liability, insurance, foreclosures, and local, state
and federal regulations. Other unique areas of practice are cargo and shipping, salvage,
collision, marine insurance, and arbitration. The rules of admiralty/maritime are fairly
specialized and sophisticated; attorneys often need expert opinion in addition to their own
specialized knowledge.

ANTITRUST LAW is a complex and specialized field in which lawyers are required to
give advice on the likely antitrust consequences of a particular business practice. They
may litigate antitrust cases in criminal and civil contexts. Antitrust practices compel
attorneys to know their clients’ business in the broader context of the marketplace. This
mandates a comprehensive understanding of the business environment of the client
companies, their products, sales practices, and relationship to their competitors. Expert
economists often assist in the analysis of complicated situations.

APPELLATE PRACTICE is an area in which a higher court-an appellate or supreme
court-reviews the decision of a lower court – generally a trial court or an administrative
agency. Lawyers specializing in appellate practice handle the process of appealing a final
judgment. This may happen in a civil or criminal case after a trial before a judge or jury,
or after dismissal of a case upon disposition of a motion, i.e., motion for summary
judgment. An appeal is typically brought before an intermediate court of appeals and, if
necessary, to a supreme court. Excellent legal research, writing and oral advocacy skills
are critical in appellate practice.

BANKING AND COMMERCIAL FINANCE can be highly complex and include
multistate or international interests as well as secured and unsecured creditors. The
banking industry has undergone a wave of merger activity in recent years, with both
small and large banks being acquired by national banks and financial service institutions.
Banks have also dramatically expanded their services to include the sale of insurance and
securities as part of a diversified financial services company. Banking lawyers provide
legal services to the financial services industry. Businesses need capital to finance their
commercial activities and acquisitions; banking lawyers represent lenders, participants,
agents, and borrowers in these financial transactions.

BANKRUPTCY The resolution of financial difficulties between those entities facing or
in financial ruin and those entities that have advanced credit. The predominant part of
bankruptcy practice involves filings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, although an emerging
area of practice is the resolution of financial problems through financial reorganizations
outside the court system.

CIVIL LITIGATION involves the process of preparing cases for trial and, if necessary,
presenting the case at trial and, sometimes, conducting appeals. It is the pretrial process –
in which evidence is gathered, facts and case theories are developed, witnesses are
interviewed and deposed, and various motions are filed, argued, and decided by the judge
– which occupies the vast majority of the time and effort of civil litigators since 90% of
all civil cases are settled without having a trial.

COMMUNICATION LAW The recent climate of deregulation has prompted a marked
increase in the extent and diversity of the communications law practice. The field has
broadened to include not only the broadcast industry, but also cable television, telephone
and telefax, data communications, cellular phone, satellite communication, paging,
amateur radio, and private radio services. The practice involves handling matters for
clients before the Federal Communications Commission, and client concerns on privacy,
copyrights and contracts.

COMPUTER LAW is a newly emerging area based on technology. Engineering or
computer backgrounds are necessary for this area.

CORPORATE PRACTICE involves handling a wide range of legal issues for
businesses. Whether negotiating the acquisition of a multimillion-dollar company or
assisting a small Internet start-up company, corporate lawyers are involved in advising
businesses on their numerous legal rights, responsibilities, and obligations. Corporate
lawyers may work in firms where they counsel clients and handle business transactions
including negotiation, drafting, and review of contracts and other agreements associated
with the activities of the business, such as mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures; they
also advise business clients on corporate governance and operations issues such as the
rights and responsibilities of corporate directors and officers and the general oversight of
the legal activities of the company. In addition, corporate attorneys assist business clients
with the financial information they must provide to their owners, employees, and
shareholders, including reports that must be filed with the Securities and Exchange

Commission (SEC) and other governmental agencies. Other corporate lawyers are
employed directly by corporations as in-house corporate counsel. In-house counsel act as
internal advisors on myriad business and legal issues, including labor and employment
issues, intellectual property issues, contractual issues, and liability cases.

CRIMINAL LAW involves prosecution by the government of a person for an act that
has been classified as a crime. In a criminal case the state, through a prosecutor, initiates
the suit. Persons convicted of a crime may be incarcerated, fined, or both. Criminal
defense attorneys may work for the federal, state, or local government or for private law
firms. The Constitution provides that anyone accused of a crime, even the indigent, has
the right to be defended by an attorney; thus states, municipalities, and the federal
government maintain public defenders’ offices which provide defense counsel to any
qualified, accused person one who needs it.

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS PRACTICE concentrates on both employee benefits and
executive compensation. Attorneys in this area represent both publicly and privately held
corporations, banks, and trust departments. The legal staff is involved from the design of
the program through its administration to the payment of benefits and funds. The benefit
packages must comply with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code.

ENERGY LAW is concerned about the legal rights and obligations connected with the
exploration and production of minerals and natural resources. It also encompasses the
manufacture, sale, and distribution of energy-generating products. Rules regulating the
production and distribution of energy, safety of nuclear power, land-use rights, and
related prescriptions are important on the local level as well as the national level.

ENTERTAINMENT/SPORTS law practice can vary from representing on-the-air
personalities to professional athletes to educational institutions. In addition to contract
negotiation, the attorney may represent clients in endorsement and marketing agreements,
grievance and arbitration proceedings, and in the developing and review of investment
arrangements. Attorneys with universities as clients will work with the National
Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the development of programs to achieve and
maintain compliance with NCAA rules.

ENVIRONMENT LAW Manufacturing and other businesses have legal staff to advise
them on business practices and methods to insure that environmental standards are met.
The Environmental Protection Agency has its own staff of administrative attorneys.
There a re many local and state regulations concerning standards to protect the
environment, as well as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, The Resource
Conversation and Recovery Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act on the federal
level. With the passage in 1980 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation and Liability Act (also known as Superfund and CERCLA), a new area of
practice has developed. The federal government and private parties can now bring cost
recovery and injunctive actions based on the release of hazardous substances.

 FAMILY LAW PRACTICE includes pre-marital advice and planning; child-related
issues of support, custody, and visitations: divorce or dissolution of marriage; and post-
decree modifications and enforcement. The attorney practices in court, in negotiation
meetings and in financial planning sessions.

GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS PRACTICE Attorneys who specialize in government
contracts work represent clients in all aspects of negotiating and securing contracts with
the government, as well as disputes that arise out of these contracts. Their practice
therefore includes both client counseling and litigation. While their clients are often U.S.
companies such as defense contractors and health care organizations, they may also
represent foreign clients dealing with U.S. government agencies, as well as, U.S. clients
dealing with foreign governments. They may also work for federal, state, or local
governments or agencies reviewing and negotiating contracts with outside vendors.

HEALTH CARE LAW encompasses many legal issues from ethical matters involving
patient care to labor issues with hospital staff members to business deals involving
hospital mergers and acquisitions. Health care lawyers often represent hospitals and
other health care providers, such as nursing homes, psychiatric centers, ambulatory
surgical centers, laboratories and acute care centers, as well as health maintenance
organizations (HMOs). These organizations, like other corporations, seek legal advice
regarding general corporate matters such as corporate reorganization, capital financing,
employee benefits, tax, and antitrust issues. They also seek advice concerning issues that
are unique to health care providers, such as physician recruitment, the acquisition of
physician practices, and numerous medical staff relations issues-including the review of
staff bylaws, credentialing issues, disciplinary matters, the development of faculty/staff
practice plans for teaching hospitals, and the formation of physician-hospital
organizations. Health care lawyers also provide guidance concerning Medicare and
Medicaid fraud, abuse, and payment issues; HMO and insurance regulation;
telemedicine; and health reform issues. In addition, health care lawyers deal with
bioethical issues such as assisted reproduction and death and dying, and advise hospital
clients concerning risk management, informed consent, and confidentiality issues.

IMMIGRATION LAW involves issues related to immigration (leaving one country to
live in another) and naturalization (becoming a citizen). The federal government has
exclusive control over immigration issues. The Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS) is part of the Department of Justice, under the direction of the Attorney General.
Along with the Department of State, INS administers and enforces our immigration and
naturalization laws.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW There are several substantive areas of law
within the field of intellectual property, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, unfair
competition, and trade secrets. Intellectual property law has also expanded to cross over
into other practice areas, such as computer law (negotiation of software licenses and
hardware purchase agreements), international law (obtaining and enforcing patents and

licenses abroad), and corporate law (mergers and acquisitions involving high technology

INSURANCE DEFENCE counsel represent insurance carriers in court in unresolved
accident and insurance disputes. The insurance company usually hires local outside
counsel for specific cases. In addition to tort claims, insurance companies litigate health,
life, disability and accident insurance claims.

INERNATIONAL PRACTICE assists companies in dealing successfully with the
complexities of today’s globalized business world. Attorneys in this particular practice
must have legal expertise spanning virtually all activities of a business enterprise. An
international law firm will structure and implement joint ventures; coordinate
international mergers and acquisitions; and represent clients in international transactions.
Others lawyers at the firm will concentrate on international financing which includes
representing financial institutions in borrowing/lending agreements, in bond insurance
projects and in developing debt rescheduling and restructuring on behalf of both lenders
and various nations. The transfer of proprietary technical information, transnational
licensing and sale of intellectual property, including patents trademarks and industrial
systems, are issues in this field. The export and import of goods involves trade and
import/export regulations and tax laws of each country and the international
transportation systems and their rules and regulations.

LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE attorneys represent both private and
public sector employers in a variety of labor relations and employment matters. Disputes
may be raised in state and federal courts and in state and federal administrative agencies.
Labor attorneys are involved in lobbying at both levels on bills affecting labor issues.
They advise clients on issues such as affirmative action compliance, wage and hour
matters, employee handbooks and work rules, substance abuse programs, and

LEGISLATIVE PRACTICE Lawyers play an important role in the legislative process,
working both for the government and for special interest groups at all levels of
government. Lawyers work for senators, representatives, city counsel members, and
other public servants, as well as for all types of government committees. In addition,
they work for professional and trade associations and special interest groups, monitoring
legislation that affects particular industries, such as health care, or interests, such as
environment; they also work as lobbyists. Law firm attorneys may also specialize in
legislative and regulatory affairs.

working with individual clients with both complex and modest estates. Assets and
liabilities must be reviewed and evaluated with respect to income, gift and estate tax
matters. Law firms are also active in trust administration and post-death estates.

PRODUCT LIBIALITY LAW includes suits in which the cause of action may include
negligence, strict liability, and breach of express or implied warranties. Representing a

plaintiff or defendant in a product liability suit requires an emphasis on discovery and on
the technical aspects of the product.

PUBLIC SECTOR/MUNICIPAL law is the legal service provided to the state and local
government. Some of the services are provided by “in-house” counsel and others by
special outside counsel in private law firms. The services required include general advice
and counseling, drafting agreements and legislation, implementation of governmental
programs, and representation in judicial and administrative proceedings at the federal,
state and local level. Questions arise from hazardous waste management to worker’s and
unemployment compensations; from labor relations to occupational safety and health;
from employee benefits to telecommunications.

REAL ESTATE LAW specializes in the legal practice dealing with the sale, acquisition,
financing, and recording of land and other real property. The practice may specialize in
residential or commercial properties and may also include complex financing and
refinancing issues.

SECURITIES involve transactional work relating to investments. Securities law deals
with federal and state regulation of the issuance and sale of securities, the regulation of
brokers and dealers of securities, the regulation of securities markets and all other aspects
of securities regulation.

TAX The practice of law dealing with issues related to state and federal codes and laws.
Tax practice involves tax shelters, mergers and acquisitions, tax planning, and
representation before the IRS. The tax attorney’s role is one of consultation and advice
on the structuring of income use. Large firm clients include individuals, partnerships,
and corporations; small firm clients consist of individuals and professional corporations.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS LAW is undergoing radical changes as industries
converge. Telecommunications law involves oversight of competition in local and long
distance telephone service, as well as wireless communications, video programming
distribution, and the yet-uncharted domain of the Internet. The challenge for the
telecommunications lawyer in the new millennium will be sorting out the various rights
and obligations of service providers as well as the myriad of state and federal regulations.

TRUSTS AND ESTATES LAW governs the use of certain types of instruments, such as
wills, living trusts, or charitable trusts, to provide for an orderly distribution of the assets
and payment of any debts or liabilities of the estate. The estate lawyer’s role is to help a
client arrange his or her financial affairs so that, upon the client’s death, the client’s
assets are distributed exactly as he or she wishes and the tax consequences of distributing
that property are minimized. Many people die intestate, or without a will. State law then
determines how their estate is distributed. The administration of the estate-the process of
identifying, appraising, collecting, and distributing the property-may be especially
complex when someone with a large estate dies without a will, and those family members
inheriting such an estate may find themselves with large tax bills. Sometimes estates
become the subject of family disputes. It’s not uncommon for those who feel they’ve

been unfairly treated in a will to contest the will, and the resulting lawsuits are called
estate litigation.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION attorneys represent employee and employers in the
course of the administration of workers’ compensation benefits. On the employee side,
counsel aids the injured employee in filing for benefits due as a result of an industrial
injury or disease. Applications and forms must be submitted and an administrative
hearing conducted when the employer contests the claim. Litigation may ensue if the
claim is appealed to the state court. The attorney for the employer will defend against the
claim and work with the compensation funding and insurance agency.


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