In this five-part series, TaxProf Blog will profile SMU's full-time Graduate Tax Faculy.
I was reared in a small town in the abandoned coal fields of Western Pennsylvania during and in the aftermath of WWII. I went to college at Notre Dame and law school at Virginia, married Mary, a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia, and began practice at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. After having said "yes" when asked if I had any interest in wills, I became a wills and trusts lawyer by having so much to do that I never had the opportunity to try anything else.
Again, virtually by default, I returned to teach at Notre Dame law school. Our children were born while we were at Notre Dame and, so too, was the Notre Dame Tax & Estate Planning Institute, a continuing legal education program, now in its 33rd year, that I have chaired from inception. With a registration sometimes exceeding 1,000, it is one of the more successful programs of its kind. The written materials produced each year are supported by a more than 65 page comprehensive index of the materials distributed at previous sessions, making the cumulative materials accessible to current users. All this was leavened by a brief period as an Air Force enlisted man followed by a turn as a Navy Reserve JAGC officer.
In 1977, I came to visit at SMU and accepted an offer to join the permanent faculty as Professor of Law (I currently hold the Marilyn Jeanne Johnson Distinguished Law Faculty Fellowship). Giving up a tenured post at Notre Dame was difficult but SMU was, and is, an exciting place, with a great faculty, strong leadership (then Charles O. Galvin and now John B. Attanasio), good students—and my wife’s hometown. Moreover Dallas, and Texas as a whole, offered a wonderfully strong cadre of practicing lawyers specializing in trusts and estates and provide an invigorating professional climate with modern statutes and a strong Bar committed to their continuing evolution in the service of Texans. The supportive environment provided not only by SMU but also by my tax colleagues, Henry Lischer, Jack Mylan, Christopher Hanna, and our newest colleague, Josh Tate, make life here particularly satisfying. A highlight was a year at the University of Virginia as a visiting professor.
Professionally, among other interests, I am a Life Fellow of the American Law Institute, a past Regent of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel, a past member of the Council of the International Academy of Trust and Estate Law, a past chair of a committee of the Tax Section of the American Bar Association, and a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel. Of significant intellectual meaning to me is my membership, since 1978, in an invitational group known as the Estate Planning Study Group, a group of 34 practicing lawyers and one academic, representing virtually every major area of the country, who meet 2-3 times annually for a full day of debate and discussion immediately before the meetings of the ABA Tax Section. These professional associations have given me a perspective on developments in the law and practice and thus greatly enhanced my contribution to the learning environment that we provide students at SMU.
I have just published the 3rd edition of my Thomson-West casebook, Estate Planning & Drafting (which contains a full working copy of the Wealth Transfer Planning estate planning drafting software system, provided courtesy of its authors, Jonathan G. Blattmachr (New York City) and Michael L. Graham (Dallas, Texas) and their publisher, InterActive Legal Systems). In 2006, Martin Dickinson, William Turnier and I published the 23rd edition of our Thomson-West casebook, Taxation of Estates, Gifts, and Trusts.
Currently a member of the editorial group responsible for the Martin Dickinson-edited CCH volume, Federal Income Tax Code and Regulations -- Selected Sections, my publications range from law review articles dealing with concurrent ownership arrangements to BNA Tax Management Portfolios on revocable trusts and migrating clients.
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