Paul L. Caron

Monday, December 3, 2007

WSJ: Masters of the Universe First Mastered The Tax Code

Interesting post on today's Wall Street Journal Law Blog:  Wanna Master the Universe? First Master the Tax Code, by Peter Lattman:

For those young associates and law students out there interested in rising to the top ranks of an elite investment banks, we just want to say two words to you - just two words: tax law. Forget M&A or those burgeoning investment-management practices. If you want to become a Master of the Universe, young Jedi lawyer, master first the Internal Revenue Code!

  • Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs, is a former tax lawyer at Donovan Leisure in NYC
  • Erin Callan, CFO of Lehman Brothers, is a former tax lawyer at Simpson Thacher in NYC

(Hat Tip:  Elena Marty-Nelson.)

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Peter Lattman's article on Goldman CEO Blankfein and Lehman CFO Cellan is somewhat uninformed by jokingly implying tax law experience is valuable based on out-dated information.

Blankfein did tax work in the 1970's, the hay day of individual tax shelters, which ended in the 1980's. Callan did tax work in the hay day of corporate tax shelters, which ended in the late 1990's.

Congress put a stop to the shelters with more and more legislation and IRS enforcement, so tax law isn't that good a way to become a banker or fund manager. Representing big banks and funds in high-end M&A or capital markets work is a far better way to do that, and a very limited number of firms represent these clients in that sort of high-end work. Representing these clients in tax matters leads to in-house tax jobs that don't pay too well, not to business side jobs.

Posted by: anon | Dec 6, 2007 2:47:09 AM