Paul L. Caron

Saturday, May 19, 2007


The SMU Graduate Tax Program began more than 50 years ago and prospered under Dean Charles O. Galvin.  Today, U.S. News ranks SMU among the Top 20 law schools in tax and among the Top 10 graduate tax programs. In recent years, the SMU Law Review has published a special tax issue, including


In this five-part series, TaxProf Blog will profile SMU's full-time Graduate Tax Faculy. 


Lischer_2Henry J. Lischer, Jr.

        • B.B.A. (Accounting) 1967, Iowa
        • J.D. 1970, Iowa
        • LL.M. (Tax) 1974, NYU

Some of us end up as lawyers or law professors because we had, at a young age, a vision of what career to pursue. That was not my path to the tax professoriate. Being young (17) and uninformed when I headed off to the University of Iowa, I had no idea about what to study, so I followed my businessman father’s advice to study accounting. After one summer’s exposure to industrial accounting, I decided that I did not want to be a practicing accountant. My father, upon hearing that I did not want to be an accountant, said "Why don’t you go to law school?", and I again followed his advice and was admitted to the University of Iowa College of Law.

To my great good fortune, I found law school to be an extremely stimulating and satisfying experience, and I have been ever thankful for my father’s suggestion. During my second year of law school, I had Meade Emory as my tax teacher. Many of you know Meade or know of him, and I will not belabor his great skill as a classroom teacher. Suffice it to say that, from the first day of his highly entertaining and informative income tax class, I was hooked on tax. I took all of the tax courses that I could from Meade, and I cannot imagine a better foundation than the one Meade provided me.

I started law school in the fall of 1967 as the Vietnam war raged, shortly after President Johnson did away with graduate school deferments from the draft. LBJ did give my class a one-year deferment, so it was not likely that I would be able to finish law school without interruption. To avoid being drafted into the Army, I sought and obtained a slot in the Marine Corps Judge Advocate Corps. The advantage of the Marine Corps was that it would permit me to finish law school and then go on active duty. The disadvantage of the Marine Corps was that (1) I had to complete the regular Marine Corps 10-week OCS at Quantico, Virginia, after my first year of law school, (2) upon graduation from law school, I had to complete the Marine Corps 6-month infantry training at Quantico before attending Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island, and becoming a Judge Advocate, and (3) I had a three-year service commitment. I survived all of that, saw lots of the United States (including my last two years of military service living in Laguna Beach, California, defending the shores of California from the ravages of war), and my wife and I had our two children while on active duty.

Upon discharge from the Marine Corps, I attended NYU to get my tax LL.M. in 1973-74, so I had as teachers two of the historical greats of the NYU graduate tax program:  Gerald Wallace and Charles Lyon. Visiting at NYU that year was Jack Mylan, who taught one of my classes and eventually became my long-time colleague at SMU.

Upon completion of the NYU program, I headed back to California to practice in Los Angeles. When the law firm tax group disintegrated and a teaching position opened up at the University of Alabama, I took it. The move from Los Angeles to Tuscaloosa was a big adjustment for me and my family, but my ever-supportive wife (who was not invited on my interview trip to Tuscaloosa and had never set foot in the state of Alabama) was willing to go along with this change in my professional activities. It ended up that we loved Alabama, and I decided that being a tax law professor was a really satisfying career. While at Alabama, we started a part-time graduate tax program that sometimes took me to Birmingham to teach part of my load.

In 1977, after my second year at Alabama, I finished a draft of an article, and I tracked down my mentor Meade Emory to ask if he would review it. Meade had left the Joint Committee on Taxation staff, and he then was a visiting professor at SMU. After I delivered the article to Meade, he passed it on for the consideration of the tax faculty, and I was invited to SMU for an interview. The dean at that time was Charles Galvin, a highly respected and highly prominent tax lawyer, and the tax and related faculty included Bill Streng (now at the University of Houston), Scott Morris (now in practice), and Regis Campfield (still my colleague at SMU). I joined the SMU faculty during the fall of 1978, and I have been here since, with the exception of a year in Washington, D.C., at the IRS as Professor-in-Residence, and a return visit to the University of Alabama. I have enjoyed my colleagues at SMU, and SMU has been an excellent professional home for me.

Rather late in life, I discovered the joy of standing in a cold mountain stream with a fly rod in my hand, and my school teacher wife and I now spend our summers at our cabin in Montana, where I can (despite a painfully slow Internet connection) get lots of professional work done. I have written several articles, Tax Management Portfolios, and parts of books in Montana because (other than the call of the mountains and rivers) there are very few distractions. I fish less than I would like, but I hope to fish more after I retire.

Since the early 1980's, I have served as the Tax Court admission examiner for the non-attorney admission examination. In recent years, two other law professors have joined in that task, including Deborah Schenk of NYU. I have been active in ABA Tax Section, and am a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel and an Academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

For prior SMU Graduate Tax Faculty Profiles, see:

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. For prior Tax Prof Profiles, see here.

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