Paul L. Caron

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spotlight_1_1Patricia C. Bradford (Marquette)

        • B.A. 1977, SUNY-Buffalo
        • J.D. 1981, Hastings



BradfordIf someone had told me when I entered law school that I would eventually spend my entire career as a tax professor, I would said, “Your crystal ball is broken.” First of all, when I entered law school, I had never done anything since leaving home for more than 2 years. I dropped out of college after a year and a half because I had completed enough credits for junior status (taking Spanish and Art as electives) and I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I moved from Northern California to Santa Barbara and got my first real job as the file clerk in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Before long, I moved again and became a court clerk in a small two judge county. That’s when I decided I wanted to become a lawyer. I went back to college and finished an English degree at SUNY-Buffalo a year and a half later. A year after that I started law school at Hastings. I was sure I would end up specializing in criminal law. (Every criminal case had a great story. The problem was, I couldn’t decide which side – prosecuting or defending – had the fewest ethical and moral dilemmas.)

When I was registering for my second year of law school, other students advised me that “everyone has to take at least the basic federal income tax class.” Convinced that I wouldn’t like the course, I decided to get it over with. At Hastings we had the option of taking a 3 credit or a 4 credit Federal Income Tax course. Since I didn’t want to learn much about tax, I opted for the 3 credit course. The first week of classes the professor would ask a question and numerous hands would go up. I had never been in a class where so many students volunteered. And their answers were all correct. I studied hard, still telling myself I was just getting tax out of the way. Then one day I discovered that I was doing my class preparation for tax before preparing for any other course. I discovered that I like tax! I didn’t even seem to mind carrying home the book, Code and the three volume set of regulations we had to have for the course. At the end of the semester when I was registering for classes, I read the description for the 3 credit course I enrolled in. I discovered that it was an “accelerated” course for students with a tax background. The second part of the course was offered in the Spring. It covered Partnership Tax and Corporate Tax at an accelerated 3 credit pace. I enrolled. After that I took every tax course Hastings offered.

After graduating in 1981, my first long-term job was with a local Milwaukee firm (14 members) that primarily focused on real estate development. It was bath by fire. When I wasn’t working on the tax section of private offerings, I was handling tax litigation for clients of other firms who had retained our firm after their deals got audited. Business was good – rapid ACRS deductions, no passive loss rules, no Section 704(b) or (c) regulations and high appreciation made the deals fairly easy for the dealers to sell. Occasionally, we had some exotic shelters that individual clients wanted us to assess involving reproductions of fine arts. Meanwhile, I taught a class occasionally for the partners who were adjunct professors at Marquette and UW Milwaukee (Masters of Tax program).

I started teaching fulltime at Marquette in Fall, 1983. (I had heard Marquette was looking for a tax professor and I called the chair of the Faculty Recruitment committee. Even though I only had two years of experience (and they usually required five), I was hired. I think the article I had co-authored with a partner in the Journal of Taxation, tipped the balance in my favor. (Back then it was unusual for a candidate to have any completed scholarship.)

I regularly teach Federal Income Taxation of Individuals, Taxation of Partnerships and S Corporations and Taxation of Corporations and S Corporations. I taught Law and Economics for a number of years, but now I teach Torts. Amazingly, I seems as though I keep a huge classroom full of Individual Income Tax students more fully engaged that a class of 1L Torts students. I owe this to the fantastic tax professors I had at Hastings who I’m sure benefited from the fact that I was taught to analyze and think critically by Profs Mary Kay Kane and William Crawford. Prof. William Hutton taught a course called “Tax Strategies for Personal Investment.” That class taught me how to make the individual income tax class relevant to my students – whether they are thinking about the clients they will one day advise or how to build and invest their own savings. As much as I like teaching income tax, my favorite subject is still Partnership Tax.

My personal life revolves around my kids and my husband. My son, Mike (12) and my husband, Tom (52) play hardball. Tom still pitches, he’s a lefty. My daughter, Sally (9) plays softball. That’s a lot of games to watch. The rest of the year, Sally plays soccer and Mike plays tackle football and basketball. We all play golf, but even Sally out drives me – with my driver! Maybe this will be the year that I finally break – I’m not telling.

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