TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, January 16, 2015

Who Are The Happiest Law Firm Associates? Tax Lawyers

Vault, Switch to Your Law Firm's Tax Group ASAP!:

Many factors contribute to overall satisfaction with a legal job—co-workers, commute time, the jerk level of the boss—but one of the most important factors may be the subject matter associates are required to stare at ALL DAY LONG and the type of work related to that subject matter. Switching practice groups may be the solution to unhappiness in the workplace—whether that is an available option is another question.

According to data collected from Vault’s 2014 Law Firm Associate Survey, a survey of nearly 17,000 associates from over 150 large and mid-sized law firms, out of the 20 practice areas surveyed, tax lawyers are the most satisfied with their jobs.

Associate Satisfaction

Tax law may be satisfying work because it is often described as solving a puzzle, allowing lawyers to find creative solutions to their clients’ problems. One Skadden associated noted, “We get to do incredibly interesting work in tax, and I think I am always learning new things.”

Because of the ever-changing landscape of tax regulation, those solutions are often implemented swiftly, so it may be easier for tax attorneys to see the fruits of their labor than for attorneys in other practice groups.  The work flow in tax groups may also be steadier than practice groups like litigation, ranking in the bottom for satisfaction, where associates hours are notoriously irregular and filing deadlines can lead to sleepless nights and weekends at the office. Additionally, tax lawyers may find satisfaction through pro bono work by helping new businesses and non-profits with their tax issues. Tax associates seem to know that have it good commenting, “the tax department generally has a better morale level than other departments.”

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

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Comments

No survey of practice areas should lump IP and IP litigation together. And within IP, patent attorneys should be separated out from trademark and copyright attorneys. If that were done, I would be very surprised if patent attorneys didn't have greater job satisfaction than tax attorneys.

Oh, yes, I am a patent attorney. Why do you ask?

Posted by: Rex | Jan 17, 2015 6:23:40 PM

One of my pet peeves are graphs that are formatted to deceive rather than inform. The use of a compressed scale like this is a classic example. I'm not sure what's being measured here, but the difference between the top number and the bottom number is only 0.5; if the max possible number was 10 (not evident here, but a valid assumption) then the entire range is only 5%.

Posted by: Ken Mitchell | Jan 17, 2015 7:25:36 PM

lol This made me crack up. I used to be a legal aid for tax lawyers. I'm telling you they are not happy at all.

Posted by: Paul Cowie | Jan 18, 2015 12:31:22 AM

They're just happy not to be in litigation!

Posted by: mike livingston | Jan 18, 2015 3:23:35 AM

The top three are basically "here-are-the-rules-you-must-follow-them" practices. Happy to help you fill out your official forms! Happy through pro bono? There cannot be a worse client than one not paying.

Posted by: jamesb.bkk | Jan 18, 2015 5:49:47 PM

jamesb clearly has no idea what is asked of a tax attorney. additionally all attorneys have rules to follow in their practice field. Being an attorney means determining how those rules apply or don't apply to your client. I will now wait for james to show us which practice area does not have rules to follow. And, what are these forms to complete? are you confusing tax preparation with tax law?

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 19, 2015 9:00:22 AM

jamesb - you obviously know nothing about tax work if you think it is "here are the rules.." you wouldnt need tax lawyers if that were the case, just CPAs

Posted by: jake | Jan 19, 2015 10:00:20 AM

Those are the guys who always got to go home and eat dinner with the family while us corporate deal jockeys were up late at night at the printer! No wonder they're so happy.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 19, 2015 11:47:52 AM