This week's Tax Prof Spotlight continues a series of profiles of folks starting their careers this fall as law school tax professors. I hope the profiles will help introduce our newest colleagues to the tax community.
Sarah B. Lawsky (George Washington)
- A.B. 1994, Chicago
- J.D. 2001, Yale
- LL.M. (Tax) 2006, NYU
As my family tree demonstrates, my current job teaching tax law at George Washington University Law School, located at 20th and H Streets in Washington, D.C., may actually be genetically predetermined [click on diagram to enlarge]:
But let me back up. While my interests in writing and teaching appeared early, my interest in tax arrived late; I didn’t take a single tax class in law school. But the year after I graduated from law school, I read Marvin Chirelstein’s classic Federal Income Taxation and Michael Graetz’s The Federal Income Tax and fell in love with tax law.
I spent the next five years as a tax associate at New York law firms, the last three and a half at Hogan & Hartson’s New York office with an amazing group of lawyers. At night I studied for my LL.M. in tax law at NYU, where I had one great teacher after another, both practitioners and full-time professors. And at least once every semester, I was able to answer a question at work by referring to my class notes from the night before. (My personal favorite was when I was taking Taxation of Financial Instruments, which really was irrelevant to my practice, and a partner came into my office one morning wondering whether a 100-year bond would be treated as debt for tax purposes. “Well, funny you should ask that….”)
As much as I enjoyed practicing tax law, I wanted to have more time to think and write about the tax issues that really fascinated me, and I also liked the idea of introducing other people to a subject as exciting and pervasive as tax. So last year I took the plunge and entered the teaching job market. And that brings us back to the opening chart, and GW Law School.
Outside of my interest in tax, I’m pretty fond of my dog, Tonka. After five years of slacking, she finally, last year, obtained gainful employment as a therapy dog (not financially gainful, though, thus avoiding the question of whether she would have to file a separate tax return, which I believe would be a Form 1040-WOOF), which means that she and I now get to visit the local hospital, where Tonka invariably impresses everyone with her endless capacity for receiving head pats.
Each Saturday, TaxProf Blog shines the spotlight on one of the 700+ tax professors in America's law schools or on one of our international tax colleagues. 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.