Paul L. Caron

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spotlight_1_1Kathryn L. Moore (Kentucky)

        • A.B. 1983, Michigan
        • J.D. 1988, Cornell 




I was exposed to tax at a very young age. When my brother and I were kids, my father would buy us ice cream. He never bought ice cream for himself, though. Instead, he charged us “tax” on our ice cream - at the notable rate of about 33 percent.

Due to this early exposure to tax and other unknown reasons, I entered law school expecting to like tax. I was not disappointed. Russell Osgood was a brilliant teacher. In his upper level tax classes, he would call on one student for the entire fifty minute class. It was both frightening and exhilarating to be on the hot spot in his class. (I tried to emulate his practice my first year of teaching but couldn’t pull it off.)

After graduating from law school, I spent a year clerking for Judge Fong in Honolulu, Hawaii. (It was a cold February in Ithaca, New York, when I had to decide where to apply for clerkships.) I didn’t have any tax cases that year, but I did work on three ERISA cases.

After finishing my clerkship and traveling for a few months, I became associated with the tax group of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan in Washington, D.C. One of my early assignments was helping to draft a petition for certiorari in a state tax case. Although cert was denied, I was labeled a state tax expert. Two years later, when the firm was asked to file a petition for certiorari in another state tax case, I was again drafted in light of my state tax “expertise.” This time, cert was granted, and after working on the case for over 1,000 hours, I did become an expert, at least in state tax discrimination under the dormant commerce clause. I also did a fair amount of employee benefits work while at Sutherland.

After practicing for about three years, I applied for a teaching job. Although I expressed a willingness to teach tax on my AALS form, I ended up at a school, the University of Kentucky, that actually did not need a full time tax professor. Instead, they needed a property professor. So, since joining the UK faculty in 1993, I have taught property and property-related courses in addition to employee benefits and state and local tax. Although it is not a typical teaching package, I have enjoyed it. (I tell my students that if they like future interests, they will probably like tax.)

My early scholarship focused on state and local tax law. Then, when seven of the thirteen members of the 1994-1996 Advisory Council on Social Security recommended that the Social Security system be fundamentally restructured to include some kind of individual or personal accounts, I started writing about Social Security. (I thought the proposed change was ill advised then, and I still do now.) Since 1997, most of my scholarship has focused on Social Security reform. In addition, I have co-authored an employee benefits casebook and written a few articles about the French retirement system. (I’ll leave my foray into the French retirement system for another day.)

All in all, it’s been a fun and fulfilling career and I wouldn’t trade it for another.

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