Saturday, August 21, 2004
This week's Tax Prof Spotlight continues our series of profiles of folks starting their careers this fall as tenure-track tax professors at American law schools. We hope the profiles will help introduce our newest tax colleagues to the academic tax community.
Brad Myers came to tax law as a second career. After completing bachelors and masters degrees in Kinesiology at UCLA, he started the Ph.D. program in Animal Physiology at UC Davis, working with Dr. Ray Burger investigating ventilatory control in birds (Chicken Intrapulmonary and Cardiac Nerve Afferents Interact in Ventilatory Control, 98 Respiration Physiology 283 (1994)). When Dr. Burger passed away one year into the program, Brad decided to abandon the sciences and attend law school. "While I really enjoyed the teaching and research, being a scientist requires an endless pursuit of funding and I really did not enjoy that aspect of the career."
Brad began law school at the University of Oregon with the expectation of entering the environmental law field. "I believed that the disconnect between environmental laws and environmental science had to be because the lawyers and the scientists had trouble communicating with one another. Only when I took environmental law did I discover that the lawyers generally understood the science, they just viewed it as one more fact to be used in achieving their larger goals and not has something that should drive policy."
Searching for some new area in which to focus, Brad had the good fortune of working as a research assistant for Professor Leslie Harris and taking Federal Income Tax from Professor Nancy Shurtz. "I really took tax to fill out my course schedule with something I thought would be easy. I was good at math. That had to be an advantage, didn’t it?" Professors Harris and Shurtz also were part of the core faculty for a Certificate of Completion in Estate Planning offered by the University of Oregon, which he completed. "I found that I enjoyed the 'Where’s Waldo' aspects of researching tax law. You can usually find an answer if you stare at the resources enough. More importantly, the idea of practice that helped people plan to achieve results, rather than helping people who have suffered a calamity, appealed to me."
After law school, Brad traveled to NYU to complete an LL.M. in Taxation. His wife enrolled in the MSW program at the Columbia School of Social Work at the same time. "NYU was a wonderful experience, not only because of the faculty, but because of the high quality of the students. I know that reads like one of the sappy quotations from a school catalog, but I really feel the atmosphere helped me develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter."
After NYU, Brad worked for Hale Lane in Reno, Nevada. "I really looked hard for a firm that would give me the opportunity to do significant work in a number of different areas. Most of the firms with large tax departments did not seem to want their tax lawyers to do anything but tax work. At Hale Lane I mostly did tax, business, and estate planning, but I also had the opportunity to conduct some litigation research and even argued once in Bankruptcy Court." Eventually, Brad developed a specialization in housing development using Section 42 low-income housing tax credits and tax exempt bond financing.
So how did he come to teaching? "Although I gave up the sciences, I never really gave up the idea of returning to higher education. I just love the academic environment. My original plan was to work for a couple of years, publishing a couple of articles a year, and then moving into teaching. Apparently I had no idea how much work a law firm actually expects an associate to do." Finding time to publish actually required changing firms a couple of times, but he eventually got some work published:
• Tax Treatment of Investment in Infrastructure Agreements, 29 Real Estate Tax'n 81 (2002)
• Revisiting the Commerciality Doctrine, 10 J. of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law 2 (2001)
• Estate Planning and Probate for the Paralegal/Legal Assistant in Oregon (NBI, Inc., 1999)
• 8 Things Non-Estate Planning Attorneys Should Know About Estates, Oregon Bar Bulletin (Nov. 1999).
Brad got the opportunity to join the faculty at the University of North Dakota School of law in 2001. "The AALS Conference is the not the most fun I have ever had, but NYU really provides it graduates with a lot of support at the conference and made the process I lot less stressful than it could have been." The small size of the faculty allowed him the same variety in courses to teach as he sought out in practice. "They brought me in to cover Trusts and Estates, but I have also been able to teach Tax Policy, Intellectual Property, Estate Planning, International Law, and International Business Transactions, as well as working with the summer school program we offer in Oslo, Norway. This fall I am taking over the Income Taxation course and I expect to take over more of the tax courses in the future."
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, particularly for our series on new tax professors. For prior Tax Prof Profiles, see here.
August 21, 2004 in Tax Prof Spotlight | Permalink
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