Paul L. Caron

Saturday, October 6, 2007

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.

Spotlight_1_1Kristin Balding Gutting (Charleston)

        • B.S. 1997, Valparaiso University
        • J.D. 2000, St. Louis
        • LL.M. (Tax) 2001, Florida



Gutting_2 A tax lawyer was not the career I envisioned growing up. I always thought that I would be a FBI agent or some type of advertising executive. When I started college at Valparaiso University, I decided to major in marketing. I soon realized that marketing would require me to participate in several group projects a semester. Unfortunately, this was not something to which I would be able to give 100 percent, because I was on a softball scholarship and traveled throughout the Spring semester. I thought it would be unfair for me to receive a grade as a group that I was unable to attend a majority of the group meetings. So, instead, I decided that I would follow my other career path and major in accounting (a very common major for FBI agents). Throughout my undergraduate studies, I found myself really enjoying my tax classes. However, when I went to law school, I still had the idea of being an FBI agent.

In my second semester of law school, basic federal income tax was required. Once again, I found myself intrigued by my tax class (i.e. once again bit by the tax bug). Tax was a big puzzle that was always changing and which could be solved in many different ways. However, it was not until my internship with the Department of Justice – Criminal Tax Division that I realized that tax was not something that I just liked, but something I could spend the rest of my life exploring. Once it became clear that tax was the perfect fit for me, I took as many tax classes as I could during my third year of law school. Additionally, during my third year, I spent a semester teaching “Street Law” at an intercity high school in St. Louis. I discovered that while teaching I was the happiest that I had ever been. I cannot explain the feeling I felt when a light bulb would go off in one of my student’s heads, and he or she just got it. I knew from that point on that someday, I would want to be a law school professor, and what better subject than TAX. Thus, I decided to further my education (knowledge) in tax by attending University of Florida’s Graduate Tax Program. While at the University of Florida, I focused my studies primarily in the area of international tax.

After graduation, I moved to D.C., where I practiced for an accounting firm in international tax. However, I found myself reading tax opinions and wanting to make arguments that one of the parties did not make and being curious about areas other than international tax. When an old classmate called and said that she was leaving her firm where she was in the tax controversy group and wanted to know if I would be interested in interviewing, I jumped on the opportunity. As a result, in January of 2003, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where I began my practice in tax controversy at Chamberlain Hrdlicka.

Almost two years later, I moved to Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, where I worked in both the tax controversy and state and local tax groups. I enjoyed my practice (and the people I worked with) tremendously, but ultimately knew that I wanted to teach, mentor, and explore issues that were of interest to me rather than those based on my client’s current needs. Thus, when the opportunity arose to return to the University of Florida, this time as a Visiting Assistant Professor, I knew the time was right to pursue my academic interests. I had been called in past years, but just felt that I did not have enough experience to bring to the classroom until last year. However, when they called me regarding the 2005-06 school year, I jokingly asked if it would be okay if I took a maternity leave for the first three months of the fall semester, as I was due to have my first child in August of 2005 (his name is Jackson and he is now an inquisitive 14 month old little boy). Everything finally worked out, and I was able to accept the job (honor) to teach at the University of Florida for the 2006-07 school year.

After finishing my rookie year at Florida, I accepted a position at the Charleston School of Law. This fall I am teaching Federal Individual Income Taxn. In the spring, I look forward to teaching Partnership Tax and Advanced Federal Income Tax.

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.

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