Many lawyers fall into their fields, more often as a result of circumstance rather than planning. Take, for instance, Dan Simmons. "I came to law school your typical political science major. I had no economics background. I left law school expecting to be a litigator."
Working as a clerk for the California Supreme Court, Simmons discovered "litigation is 90 percent paperwork. When an opportunity arose to work for my tax teacher, I took it." Fifteen years later, as Congress rewrote the Internal Revenue Code, Simmons would occupy the prestigious position of professor in residence in the Office of the Chief Counsel of the IRS.
"You cannot practice law without understanding the income tax system," said the 1971 King Hall alumnus. "There's very little we can do in today's society that doesn't have income tax implications."
For this reason, the tax lawyer is both the ultimate specialist and ultimate generalist, practicing an esoteric brand of law that touches practically every transaction in American society. "Contracts, marital property, trusts, estate planning, immigration, corporations, partnerships, securities, torts, constitutional law, employment discrimination-the tax lawyer must be knowledgeable in all," said Simmons.