Archive for Attorneys

Prayer in Town Meetings Upheld & Other Recent Supreme Court Decisions

The United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C. - Photo by John S. Treu

Interesting cases this last week from the Supreme Court involved prayer in town hall meetings, mandatory restitution in a mortgage fraud case, and reversing a summary judgment in an excessive force case.

In Town of Greece v. Galloway the high court reversed the Second Circuit’s ruling that prayers offered at the beginning of town hall meetings violated the establishment clause because, even though they were open to all creeds, the prayers were predominantly offered by individuals of christian faiths incident to the fact that nearly all of the Congregations local to the town were christian.[1] Justice Kennedy, delivered the 5-4 opinion of the court finding that the practice did not violate the establishment clause based on Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U. S. 783, thereby upholding the long history of legislative prayer as a non-coercive practice that is deeply rooted in the tradition and heritage of the U.S. legislative process.

The Court rejected the respondent’s position that only a generic or non-sectarian prayer to an unspecified God could be offered as such a policy would “force legislatures sponsoring prayers and the courts deciding these cases to act as supervisors and censors of religious speech…” Justice Kagan delivered a dissent joined by Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor finding it persuasive that the prayers were all christian. Apparently ignorant of the fact that there are tens of thousands of different christian religions and several different denominations offered prayers for the Town of Greece, Kagan ironically writes about a lack of religious diversity by deftly painting all christian faiths with the same brush and even making several references to these many separate religions as the same single religion and faith.

In Robers v. United States the Court provided interpretation for the definition of property pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996.[2] The decision affected the proper calculation for restitution that Benjamin Robers was ordered to pay incident to his conviction for submitting fraudulent mortgage applications.

In Tolan v. Cotton, a suit against a police officer for excessive force in a shooting incident that was dismissed on summary judgement, the Court held that a reading of the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party precluded summary judgment based on the officer’s qualified immunity.[3]

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U. S. ____ (2014)
  2.  Robers v. United States, 572 U. S. ____ (2014); Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996, 18 U. S. C. §§3663A–3664
  3.  Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U. S. ____ (2014)

Interesting Articles for Law Schools and Attorney Placement from Last Week

The news for law schools this week was dominated by articles addressing the still recently-released employment numbers for law school graduates. Below are a few interesting articles and posts from around the web.
Diving Into More Law School Employment Data From The WSJ, By Dan Filler, May 6, 2014 (The Faculty Lounge) – Noting that the average employment numbers when broken down by tiers of schools based on U.S. News Rankings (e.g. top 10, top 25 and top 50) can be fairly misleading as the elite schools included in those numbers greatly inflate the overall averages as outliers. The article also notes that any employment numbers should be analyzed in light of the many law school funded positions, which are particularly prevalent among schools in the top 10.
The Top 18 Law Schools for Placing Law Graduates in Florida Jobs, By John Treu (Fuller Law Blog) – Ranks the top law schools based on graduate employment in the State of Florida by number and also includes the total employment percentage for each law school included in the ranking.

 

Rookie [Law School Professor] Hiring 2013-14, By Brian Leitner, May 6, 2014 (Brian Leitner’s Law School Reports) – Noting that law school hiring continues to be dismally low at only 64 tenure-track junior faculty hires nationwide within the last year. The numbers, which are based on Sarah Lawsky’s annual record of law school hiring, are significantly down from the historical averages and the number of law professors required to sustain even a significantly fewer number of law schools than are currently in existence.

 

Venues for Appeals in Tax Litigation

Tax Litigation Appeals are brought in the applicable Federal Appellate Court or the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

A taxpayer generally may bring an action in a tax dispute in the U.S. Tax Court, the applicable Federal District Court, or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, subject to certain limitations. For some clients, particularly where the amount in dispute is significant, it may be worthwhile to consider the precedent in the applicable appellate court when selecting the venue for the initial tax litigation.

Regular Tax Court cases and tax cases in federal district court are appealed to the relevant Federal Appeals Court in the circuit that would otherwise have jurisdiction over the taxpayer’s claim if it were filed in the federal district court.  S cases in the Tax Court cannot be appealed. Appeals of cases in the Court of Federal Claims are brought before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The Top Law Schools for Placing Students in Jobs in the District of Columbia

Ranking of Law Schools Placing Students in the District of Columbia

If you are considering going to law school and Washington D.C. is your preferred destination for a job placement after graduation, then this list of graduates from 2013 who were employed in the District of Columbia broken down by law school may be helpful as you consider where to attend.  Law schools that place more students in a particular market will have a leg up on other law schools in terms of the alumni base and connections within that market and their respective offices of career services will likely allocate more resources to recruiting in the region.

There are a couple of important factors to note that should be understood when considering this particular ranking. First, both George Washington and Georgetown have a significant number of law school funded positions that are included in these numbers. George Washington has 89 law school funded positions and Georgetown employed 83 graduates in law school funded positions. Law school funded positions are typically jobs where law students who are unable to find employment following graduation are paid to do legal work in the law school’s clinics, which are generally free legal clinics for the underprivileged. There is a significant debate about whether these positions are a good way for law schools to provide practical training to new graduates or merely a cost effective mechanism for manipulating the rankings.

Another factor to consider when viewing this ranking is that the numbers provided by the ABA do not break down the type of position by state or district, and so these jobs include all types of jobs by graduates as opposed to just lawyer positions. Higher ranked law schools typically place more students in attorney positions and so the 2015 U.S. News ranking for each school is provided in this list.

 

Law School Name Law School State

USN Rnk

# of Grads Empl in DC % of Grads Empl in DC
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY DC

20

263

44%

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY DC

13

238

37%

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY DC

72

169

33%

CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA DC

107

88

37%

VIRGINIA, UNIVERSITY OF VA

8

67

18%

HARVARD UNIVERSITY MA

2

65

11%

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY VA

46

62

24%

HOWARD UNIVERSITY DC

135

43

31%

YALE UNIVERSITY CT

1

39

19%

PENNSYLVANIA, UNIVERSITY OF PA

7

37

14%

MARYLAND, UNIVERSITY OF MD

46

35

12%

DUKE UNIVERSITY NC

10

34

14%

WILLIAM AND MARY LAW SCHOOL VA

24

29

13%

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY NY

4

28

6%

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DC

NR

27

34%

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY NY

6

26

5%

CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY, UNIVERSITY OF CA

9

21

7%

VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY TN

16

18

9%

BALTIMORE, UNIVERSITY OF MD

135

17

5%

SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY NY

107

13

6%

CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY OH

64

13

6%

CORNELL UNIVERSITY NY

13

13

7%

NORTH CAROLINA, UNIVERSITY OF NC

31

12

5%

INDIANA UNIVERSITY – BLOOMINGTON IN

29

11

5%

SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY MO

93

10

3%

VERMONT LAW SCHOOL VT

129

10

5%

RICHMOND, UNIVERSITY OF VA

51

9

6%

WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY NC

31

9

6%

WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY VA

43

9

6%

PITTSBURGH, UNIVERSITY OF PA

81

8

3%

CALIFORNIA-LOS ANGELES, UNIVERSITY OF CA

16

8

2%

CALIFORNIA-HASTINGS, UNIVERSITY OF CA

54

7

2%

HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY NY

135

7

2%

GEORGIA, UNIVERSITY OF GA

29

6

3%

NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY OF NH

93

6

6%

SETON HALL UNIVERSITY NJ

68

6

2%

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, UNIVERSITY OF CA

20

5

2%

WASHINGTON, UNIVERSITY OF WA

24

5

3%

 

Lastly, these rankings are subject to all of the same limitations as the ABA numbers upon which they are based, including the fact that these are based on law school provided data. Also, this list only includes law schools that placed 5 or more students in jobs in Washington D.C.

Ranking of Top Law Schools for Finding Jobs in Utah

If you are considering going to law school and you want to be employed as an attorney in the state of Utah so you can continue being a ski bum well into your legal career, then this article and ranking may provide some helpful insight for you.  The Utah job market, like the rest of the country, has been fairly tight for some time and so selecting a school with a strong presence of alumni in Utah can make a big difference for your job prospects once you get out of law school.  When reading this list, you should note that there are a number of important limitations, which are more particularly described in the footnote below.[1]  You should also be careful not to place too much weight on this factor as other factors including the overall prestige of the law school may have more to do with your ability to achieve employment as a lawyer in Utah than this particular ranking, but this still may be helpful if you are deciding between similarly ranked schools. So here’s the data on law school with grads finding jobs in Utah:

 

Law School Total Graduates Number of Graduates Employed in Utah % of School Employed in Utah
UTAH, UNIVERSITY OF

118

96

81.4%

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

133

71

53.4%

GONZAGA UNIVERSITY

133

13

9.8%

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

203

7

3.4%

IDAHO, UNIVERSITY OF

96

6

6.3%

ARIZONA SUMMIT – PHOENIX SCHOOL OF LAW

163

4

2.5%

AVE MARIA

109

4

3.7%

UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA – LAS VEGAS

133

4

3.0%

WESTERN STATE SCHOOL OF LAW

48

1

2.1%

 

There are really no great surprises with the order of this ranking as both Utah and BYU occupy the top slots followed mostly by law schools in the surrounding states of Arizona, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada. The significant majority of attorneys hired in the state of Utah attended law school in the state of Utah, which is fairly common for most regions.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. This ranking is based on the information reported by the schools to the ABA and it only covers the top 3 states of employment for each school, so if Utah was the fourth largest employment state for a particular law school then that would not be included on this list.  For example, both Creighton and the University of Virginia place a good number of attorneys in the state of Utah, but since Utah is not one of the top 3 states of employment for law grad from either of these law schools they do not appear on this list. Importantly, this list also does not distinguish between legal jobs and other types of employment, nor does it distinguish between part time and full time or short term and long term employment. Such information is available through LSAC for each law school generally but is not broken down on a state by state basis.

The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education – Part 4: Broader Delivery of Legal and Related Services

ABA Logo

The ABA task force took an expansive view of legal needs across all of society in making the recommendation that there should be a broader delivery of legal services that goes beyond the services provided by just J.D.-trained individuals.[1]  The view is that certain areas of the law are sufficiently rudimentary that law school graduates cannot provide the services in a cost-effective way and that many of these same services could easily be provided by individuals without J.D. degrees and the public would be better served.  This would require changes to the rules and regulations that currently impose stiff penalties for the unauthorized practice of law in most jurisdictions.

The concept is not without precedent as there is significant cross-over in practice areas among tax practitioners that are CPAs, Enrolled Agents and attorneys.  Attorneys often fulfill partner roles in accounting firms in the area of taxation and, while CPAs are not able to practice as attorneys before courts, CPAs often engage in legal research of tax topics and represent clients before the IRS during audits and administrative appeals. A J.D. is not required to represent a client before the IRS in out of court proceedings and, in fact, a non-J.D. can even represent clients before the Tax Court so long as they pass a test on the procedure of the court.[2]  Similarly, realtors in many jurisdictions advise their clients as to the terms of real estate contracts in a manner that is indistinguishable from a contract lawyer counseling a legal client on the same issues.

There are also models for this from other legal cultures. In Japan, for instance, there are a lot fewer lawyers as lay persons are able to practice transactional law as barristers only have exclusive rights to litigation.[3]  A similar model could be expanded in the U.S. for transactional law by teaching contract law in business schools or as a supplement to paralegal training and loosening the restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law in these subject areas. That said, it is unclear how doing so would improve legal education in the United States as such an expansion would erode what is already a historically poor market for legal services and new lawyers.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. This is the last of a four-part series of articles on this blog considering the ABA Task force’s recommendations for the future of legal education. See Part 1: The Funding Mechanism for Law School, Part 2: Accreditation & Innovation, and Part 3: Skills and Competencies.
  2. See Tax Court Rules, Title XX, Practice Before the Court, Rule 200(a)(3).  
  3. See The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture, p.280, edited by Sandra Buckley (Routledge, 2002).

The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education – Part 3: Skills and Competencies

The ABA task force appointed to make recommendations on the future of legal education made several recommendations regarding the quality of legal education as to providing skills and competencies for law students. Today’s topic discusses the task force’s analysis of the job law schools are doing in providing legal skills and competencies to law students.[1] The task force’s recently-released report and recommendations[2] identified significant gaps in the knowledge base of law graduates.

ABA LogoThis is an interesting topic as it is probably the most glaring and obvious weakness in law school education today.  It comes as a surprise to most people that a legal education does not actually prepare law students with the necessary skills to practice law.  Rather, legal education tends to be largely dedicated to policy, a theoretical understanding of the underlying legal principals, and a study of the history of the law.  Apart from first year writing courses, which tend to be heavily focused on appellate practice, law schools do not typically require any skills courses for law students to graduate.

There have been some encouraging recent trends in regards to increasing skills-based courses and utilizing the problem method rather than the Socratic method of instruction, but these policy changes can only go so far to change such a deep seeded issue with legal education.  The plain reality is that law schools are not staffed with professors that have significant practical experience as attorneys to teach skills-based curriculum.  In fact, it has been asserted by many that there is a considerable bias in law school hiring against experienced practitioners.[3]

Therefore, the recommendation for law schools to teach more skills-based courses is not a challenge that the current professorship model is even capable of meeting and, absent a change in the hiring process for most law schools, this is a problem that is unlikely to be resolved even over time.  Law school hiring for tenure track positions is typically a democratic process with significant input by the current professorship[4] and so even efforts by law deans to steer the hiring decisions will make little difference and law schools will continue to hire new professors that look an awful lot like younger versions of their current professors.  If law schools are going to take this recommendation to heart then they will either have to drastically change their hiring practices, which is unlikely, or they will have to utilize adjunct faculty to fill out more of their curricular needs.  Given the significant financial pressure on law school budgets and the incredible bargain law schools receive by hiring adjunct faculty, I would anticipate law schools going with the latter option and filling course needs with tenured and existing faculty.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. This article is the third of a four-part series considering the ABA Task force’s recommendations for the future of legal education. See Part 1: The Funding Mechanism for Law School and Part 2: Accreditation & Innovation.  
  2. See Generally Report and Recommendations, Task Force On the Future of Legal Education (American Bar Association, January, 2014) 
  3. See At law schools, age bias co-exists with outdated practices, by Nicholas J. Spaeth, Esq.  
  4. Id.

The ABA Task Force Recommendations on the Future of Legal Education – Part 1: The Funding Mechanism for Law School

ABA Logo

The American Bar Association’s task force on the future of Legal Education recently released its final report and recommendations. [1]  It appears the findings and recommendations failed to receive the blessing of the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors at the ABA as the report begins with a significant disclaimer stating that the views in the report “should not be construed as representing the policy of the American Bar Association.”[2]  This post is the first in a four-part series[3] addressing the various assessments and recommendations of the task force and what the recommendations might mean to various persons with interests in legal education. Today’s topic is the pricing and funding mechanisms for law school.

Pricing and Funding of Law School

The task force found that law schools are increasingly listing nominal tuition rates and then seeking top students using a scholarship system.  Many of these internal scholarships, however, are not like most scholarships in the traditional sense where a third party pays the actual cost of tuition to the school on behalf of the scholarship recipient.  A traditional scholarship places the school on equivalent financial footing between scholarship students and non-scholarship students.  Rather, these internal scholarships are really just tuition price reductions for the top incoming students, which actually make some sense as the higher GPA and LSAT scores by these incoming students increases the ranking and prestige of the law school.

This system presents a couple of significant problems.  First, the law schools have to make up the cost of these scholarships and typically do so by charging non-scholarship students more in tuition.  Also, most of the non-scholarship students are financing their legal education with debt from federal loans which are extremely easy to obtain in amounts up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.[4]  So the students with the lowest likelihood of success in law school, meaning students with the weakest incoming predictors like LSAT and GPA, who are also the least likely to benefit from their legal education in monetary terms are the very same students who are paying the most.

The task force also points out that this system for funding law schools “tends to impede the growth of diversity in legal education and in the profession.”[5]  The report makes little mention of diversity either generally or in its more detailed findings and, frankly, I am surprised this statement made it into the report at all without some kind of empirical support.  We are left to speculate as to how the funding mechanism for law schools affects diverse individuals in the legal field any differently than non-diverse individuals.

As interest rates have risen significantly over the last five years, something which is likely correlated to increased unemployment and default rates, the true cost of a law school education over the life of each law student has increased dramatically. One issue that has gotten a great deal of press lately is the fact that student loans are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.  This is a factor that is certainly contributing to declining applications and enrollments for law schools as the financial considerations for engaging in legal studies have pushed many of the brightest students into other career paths.  If a change in ABA policy is able to move law schools to either curtail the cost of law school or develop revenue sources outside the current federal student loan regime then this would certainly improve the economic prospects for students considering law school.  While other funding mechanisms might be available over time, the ABA can immediately implement policies that encourage fiscal responsibility and reduced costs.

This Week’s Roundup of Supreme Court Decisions

The United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C. - Photo by John S. Treu

Washington D.C. – Heroin as a basis for penalty enhancements in a drug-related death, timekeeping for steel workers, and who bears the burden of proof in a declaratory judgment proceeding for a patent were a few of the topics addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court this last week.[1] The following is a summary of the holdings in each case:

January 23, 2014

In Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures, LLC,[2] the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the federal circuit court by ruling unanimously that a patent holder bears the burden of proving infringement, even in lawsuits brought by a licensee seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement against the patent holder.

January 27, 2014

In Burrage v. United States,[3] the U.S. Supreme Court Held that a defendant cannot be held liable for penalty enhancement under 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(b)(1)(C) based on drug distribution unless such drug is the but-for cause of the victim’s death.  The evidence presented at trial indicated that the death may have occurred even without the use of heroin and the trial judge ruled that the Government only had to prove that the heroin was a contributing cause of death.  The judgment was unanimous and Justice Scalia wrote the opinion for the majority, subject to minor concurrences by Justices Alito, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor.

In Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp.,[4] the U.S. Supreme Court held that time spent by steel workers putting on protective gear was not compensable under 29 U.S.C. Sec. 203(o) absent a collective bargaining agreement providing for such compensation. Justice Scalia delivered a unanimous opinion of the court, except as to fn. 7 which was not joined by Justice Sotomayor.

In Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. v. Hoeper,[5] the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Aviation and Transportation Security Act immunity pursuant to 49 U.S.C. Sec. 44941(a) for airline employees reporting suspicious activity may not be denied to materially true statements as the immunity is patterned after the actual malice standards of New York Times Co. V. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, which requires material falsity. Having found that ATSA immunity applies, the Court held against the Pilot’s defamation suit.

Should You Go For An LLM Degree After Law School? It Depends

Having completed an LLM degree myself, I have heard a lot of different opinions about LLM degrees[1] from both academics and professionals alike. If you are deciding whether to do a Master of Laws program then it is important to carefully evaluate your goals in such pursuit. I have organized this article by listing some of the potential goals you may have for completing an LLM degree followed by an analysis of whether an LLM degree is likely to help you achieve that goal.[2]

Seeking LLM Purely for Specialized Legal Knowledge

Library of Congress - Interior (3) (Original)If your primary goal in seeking an LLM is to gain specialized knowledge in a specific area of the law that you will not be able to attain from on-the-job training or some other source professionally, then an LLM program is a great way to go.  In fact, this is far and away the best reason for seeking an LLM degree in any subject area.  The vast majority of LLM programs do a good job of providing a relevant and useful curriculum for their students in the targeted area of the Law.  That said, if you already committed a significant portion of your second and third years of law school to that same area of the law, then you may not get a great deal out of re-taking many of those same courses at a different school.  Make sure the course offerings at the LLM program you are considering will be sufficiently diverse to broaden your understanding of the topic in a meaningful way either by teaching new topics or by going more in depth on the topics you already know.[3]

Seeking LLM to Improve Job Prospects

A lot of law students finishing up law school will often look to LLM programs as a résumé builder, particularly if they were unsuccessful at finding a legal job following graduation. If this is your primary goal, then the utility of an LLM program will depend greatly on the school where you are seeking your LLM and the specific subject matter you are pursuing.

Gaining a degree from a top law school can be very beneficial in your job search as a degree from an ivy league school or other top law program will always look good on your resume.  You will also gain access to that school’s alumni network and job postings for the rest of you life, which can be very valuable throughout your career.  The benefits are particularly significant if your J.D. degree is from a program outside the first tier.  However, it is generally known in the legal industry that LL.M. programs are not as difficult to get into as the J.D. programs at those same law schools, so the “wow factor” of having an LLM degree from a top law program, while beneficial, will not be as significant as if you had a J.D. from that same program.

If you are considering an LL.M. from a law school outside the first tier, it is unlikely to improve the profile of your resume in any significant way that would justify the cost,[4] although you will gain access to the school’s alumni network and get another shot at on-campus interviews with employers looking for the specific skills set taught in that program.  If there isn’t a significant difference in the reputation of the law school where you are considering completing an LLM and your JD law school, then the LLM program will do little to boost your credentials on paper (other than developing the specialized knowledge as discussed above).

In terms of subject matter, the best bet tends to be an LLM in taxation and, to a lesser extent, an LLM in international law.  These programs give you a specific skill set that is difficult to achieve in practice and they are widely known and respected.  These topics are attractive as tax translates well into other important practice areas like business and commercial law and international law may open opportunities for a job seeker outside the U.S..

LLM degrees in other subject areas are not nearly as helpful in boosting your job prospects generally,[5] but there may be a benefit for certain specialized employers. For example, the EPA may find an LLM in environmental law to be very attractive, but such an LLM will do little to boost your job prospects with employers generally.  In fact, it my prevent you from getting jobs by employers who would otherwise hire you, but are reluctant because they know you are heavily vested in doing environmental law.

Seeking an LLM to Erase A Poor J.D. Academic Record

Of all the reasons you might consider an LLM program, this is probably the worst. Unless something drastic has changed in your life that will suddenly enable you to succeed in law courses in a way you were not able to succeed during your J.D. program (which is possible in some instances), you can likely expect to do no better academically in LLM courses than you did in your J.D. courses.  In fact, if you are making a significant jump from a low ranking school to a high ranking school, it may be a lot more difficult to get good grades.  Again, an LLM can be a great supplement on your resume, but it won’t erase your academic performance as a J.D.

Seeking an LLM as an International Student

Lastly, a lot of LLM programs are geared toward international students, meaning students who received a J.D. degree (or its equivalent) from a non-U.S. law school. This degree may make a lot of sense for some international students as gaining a background in the law within the United States can be very helpful to advancing a legal career internationally. An LLM degree can also allow an international student to crack into the U.S. legal market in certain jurisdictions where such a degree qualifies an international student to sit for the bar exam. Although, the U.S. legal market is very tight and even more so for foreign students, so it would be unwise to seek an LLM degree as an international student if your only goal is to become a U.S. lawyer.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1.  For those unfamiliar with the vernacular, an LLM degree (also called a Masters of Laws degree) is a specialized advanced law degree that J.D. graduates can earn by essentially taking a fourth year of law school.
  2. As someone who has counseled several attorneys and law students who were considering LLM degrees and as a tax LLM myself, I have a certain level of authority on this particular topic.
  3. The latter was the case for me as I attended NYU’s tax LLM program after I had already taken several tax law courses and practiced as a tax attorney and CPA for several years. Notwithstanding my tax knowledge going into the program, the course offerings were sufficiently broad that I was able to find topics that greatly expanded my knowledge base and the required courses in the more familiar topics went significantly more in depth than the previous tax courses I had taken.  
  4. One significant exception to this statement is the University of Florida’s tax LLM program, which has a great reputation in the tax law industry even though Florida is usually on the border between the first and second tier in the rankings.
  5. To use a relevant anecdote, a dean of a first tier law school (and not either of the schools I attended), indicate to me that a tax LLM is the only LLM program that is really worth pursuing.  In his experience, most LLM programs were basically money-grabs for the law schools initiating them, particularly for third and fourth tier schools.  Indeed, as enrollments have dropped, there are many struggling law schools that have sought to introduce LLM programs to strengthen their bottom line. For the significant majority of J.D. graduates, such LLM programs are simply not worth attending other than to learn the subject matter, but they might make sense for some international students as the incentives and benefits differ in such cases.