TaxProf Blog

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

NCCU's Walter Nunnallee "Makes Tax Law Fun"

Nunnallee_2There is a wonderful article in the Herald Sun about Walter H. Nunnallee  (North Carolina Central (he also has taught tax as an adjunct at Duke and North Carolina)). Here is part of the opening of the article, NCCU Professor Making Tax Law Fun:

[T]o Walter Nunnallee and his students at NCCU's Law School, the set of IRS tax rules by which businesses may deduct depreciation is one more flower in a garden of wonkish delights.

NCCU Law has produced more seekers of an advanced law degree in taxation than usual for its size and ranking, Nunnallee said. Since 1988, when NCCU launched the first of what are now four courses in tax law, 44 students have gone on to obtain master of law degrees in taxation, he said. That may not seem like a lot out of about 100 law graduates a year, but it makes NCCU a powerhouse next to most larger law schools, including Duke and UNC.

As an arm of a historically black university, NCCU Law is better known for its graduates' contributions to civil rights and discrimination. Its part-time evening program is widely recognized as a bootstrap route to law as a second career. But its record in producing experts in taxation law is among the school's best-kept secrets, Nunnallee said. Its graduates include Nina Olson, who as the IRS's national taxpayer advocate reports directly to IRS Commissioner Mark Everson....

A professor at Duke Law School, Larry Zelenak, who also teaches tax law and has known Nunnallee for years, says he appreciates Nunnallee's infectious zeal for the subject. "He's truly remarkable in his ability to get students so enthusiastic about tax law. They not only take all the courses he offers but go on to take more," Zelenak said. "He's a real Pied Piper."

Between 25 and 30 law schools offer master's of law in taxation. Neither NCCU nor Duke nor UNC is among them. But NCCU law graduates go on to some of the nation's top law schools that do offer it, which Nunnallee said are New York University, Georgetown University and the University of Florida. The degree program is demanding, "like law school on steroids," Nunnallee said.

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