Saturday, December 2, 2006
Kimberly Stanley (Golden Gate)
- B.S. 1978, BYU
- J.D. 1985, George Washington
- LL.M. (Tax) 1989, Georgetown
One of the joys of teaching Federal Income Tax in our JD program is seeing a student who has no particular connection to tax law come to the realization of how fun it can be. That was my experience. As a first-semester 2L at George Washington University Law School, I enrolled in a tax class only because I had met a Tax Court judge, Steve Swift, who was SO enthusiastic about tax law that I became intrigued. Before law school I taught high school history and my only real exposure to tax law was filling out my annual Form 1040EZ. But as I sat in class that semester, I could hardly believe how interesting and topical the subject was, and how much I enjoyed it – once I got over the fear of not being able to “crunch the numbers,” I was hooked.
I was fortunate to clerk for Judge Swift during my second summer, part time during my third year of law school, and then full time for two years following my graduation from GW in 1985. What a fantastic and life-shaping experience! After a year, I started the LLM Tax program at Georgetown at night, learning from (and with) some of the best tax minds in the country. After a lot of thought, I declined the offers to enter private practice, and took a job with the Department of Justice Tax Division, Appellate Section, in 1987. With only two years of legal experience, I couldn’t believe they’d actually let me argue cases before appellate judges! It was a sharp learning curve, but a wonderful job. I remember one Tenth Circuit judge asking me, almost as an aside, “So tell me, counselor, exactly what is a tax shelter?” Try explaining the doctrine of economic substance in 10 minutes or less!
After five years of government service, I wanted to give private practice a try and return to my California roots. I joined Gray Cary in San Diego as a tax associate and soon became a fixture in the local and state tax bar associations. Some of my partners downplayed the benefit of bar association work because “that’s not where the clients are,” but I could not disagree more. After only two years, I left Gray Cary with a partner and opened a boutique tax firm in La Jolla. We had a great run for 6 years – I did primarily federal and state tax litigation and controversy resolution – but with IRS downsizing, restructuring, and lack of enforcement I switched gears and pursued my long-time goal of law teaching. Say what you will about the AALS meat market, but it matched me to my perfect job.
I started at Golden Gate School of Law in July 2003, as the Associate Dean of the Tax LLM program and as an Associate Professor in the law school. The graduate tax program at GGU has been a fixture in San Francisco for over 25 years, and it is my honor to be its current director. I teach both JD and LLM tax classes, and I have been teaching 1L Property as well. Early on, I was lucky to catch that same enthusiasm for tax law that Judge Swift had, and it has been a pleasure for me to pass that on to unsuspecting students here at Golden Gate.
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