Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Lee Sheppard presented How to Learn to Stop Worrying and Love Tax Practice yesterday at the New York State Bar Association's annual meeting, published at 106 Tax Notes 474 (2005) (and also available on the Tax Analysts web page as Doc 2005-1178, 2005 TNT 15-27). Here is the opening:
I tell law students that they will not get rich planning tax shelters. I tell them that they will have one house instead of two, three cars instead of seven, and one wife instead of two. I tell them that if they want to get rich quick they should not be in any business that bills by the hour, but that they should become investment bankers instead.
One student responded, "But Goldman Sachs doesn't take just anyone." So now I tell that story, and I never fail to get baleful looks from students and howls of laughter from their teachers.
The truth is that investment bankers think you're schmucks. And they're never gonna stop thinking that. When this talk was being planned, there was a big kerfuffle among local practitioners about a prominent lawyer who left a white-shoe law firm to go to a bank.
So what? Either way, you're working for bankers, directly or indirectly. And the irony of the way things work these days is you might have more power to say no to crazy ideas inside a bank than outside it. The ostensibly independent outside lawyers are dependent on the banks as clients, while the bank's internal lawyers can stop horrible things from seeing the light of day. No matter where you are, you're stuck with working for bankers, because the whole economy has been financialized.