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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Spotlight_1_1

The Boston University Graduate Tax Program, established in 1959 as one of the first graduate tax programs in the nation, continues to be one of the best. It consistently ranks among the Top 10 tax programs. The program offers a broad and diverse curriculum, with five required courses and 33 electives and concentrations in three areas:

        • Business Tax
        • Estate Planning
        • International Tax   

Bu_logo_finalIn this five-part series, TaxProf Blog will profile Boston University's full-time Graduate Tax Faculty.

   

WalkerDavid I. Walker joined the BU faculty in 2002. He straddles the divide between corporate and tax law, teaching both and often doing research on topics that fall at the intersection of the two disciplines, such as executive compensation. Recent work has added a third leg to this stool - corporate accounting. For example, his paper Financial Accounting and Corporate Behavior, recently posted on SSRN and blogged here, examines the effect of accounting (and tax) on the behavior of managers and their firms. Other work in progress includes an empirical investigation of the interplay between tax, accounting, and corporate governance; an economic analysis of the stock option backdating phenomenon; and a study of regulatory tax penalties.

If forced to chose, David prefers teaching tax over corporate law because expectations are lower. But seriously, he finds that if he has a comparative teaching advantage (which he doubts) it lies in an ability to clarify complex transactions, concepts, and rules, and that this knack pays off most clearly in tax class. This skill isn’t innate; it’s largely due to the skillful teachers he had at Harvard, such as Al Warren and Dan Halperin. David’s baby tax class is shamelessly copied from Al Warren.

David came to the law fairly late and to tax even later. David entered Harvard Law School in 1995 after spending over a decade in the oil industry, including a couple of stints as an oil trader, which is less exciting than one might think. At Harvard he focused more on corporate law than tax, but when he took a firm job following graduation, a clerkship (for the marvelous Karen Nelson Moore of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals), and an Olin Fellowship back at Harvard, several mentors advised him that for a first or second year associate, tax work would be much more interesting than corporate. This turned out to be very good advice as David thoroughly enjoyed his two years in the tax department at Ropes & Gray in Boston and became a (partial, at least) Tax Prof as a result.

David’s scholarship and teaching have been vastly improved by advice from his extremely helpful and supportive colleagues at BU (and by no means just the tax faculty), Harvard, and BC, as well as from his old friends at Ropes & Gray. Boston, he says, is a great tax town. But he also feels extremely fortunate to have become part of the larger academic community and particularly values the relationships formed with junior faculty members across the country.

For prior BU Graduate Tax Faculty Profiles, see:

Each Saturday, TaxProf Blog shines the spotlight on one of the 700+ tax professors in America's law schools. We hope to help bring the many individual stories of scholarly achievements, teaching innovations, public service, and career moves within the tax professorate to the attention of the broader tax community. Please email me suggestions for future Tax Prof Profiles. For prior Tax Prof Profiles, see here.

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